The Growth Of Michael Del Zotto

The New York Rangers have gone through many transformations from last season, and one of the biggest has been the play of Michael Del Zotto. The former first round pick, who spend half of last season in the AHL, make the team out of camp despite many thinking he needed more time in Connecticut.

Let's just say that after 13 games he's proving them all wrong.

Del Zotto has two goals and four assists for six points in those 13 games. That puts him roughly on pace for the 37-point season he had his rookie season. But it's not just the numbers Del Zotto is notching that has made his play so impressive.

His confidence is back. He looks dangerous in the offensive zone, he's making smart decisions with the puck in the neutral zone and he's tied for the team-lead with a +6. His play has also earned him the confidence of John Tortorella.

Join me after the jump to find out what that means.

Currently Del Zotto is fourth on the team with just under 22 minutes of ice time a game. That includes 4:53 of power play time a game (second only to Brad Richards' 5:09) and a surprising 1:16 of shorthanded time a game. That's a far cry from what he was doing last year.

Richards has been mentoring Del Zotto, and it's shown. His passes on the power play are smart and effective and he's no longer trying to throw the puck up the ice with no regard for opposing defenders. His instincts are back, and that includes the defensive zone as well. Del Zotto has been much more effective in his own zone this season, and has even started laying the boom and helping clear the crease when opposing teams get on his goaltender.

The kid is growing, and showing all the potential the Rangers saw when they drafted him. Which is also helping the Rangers find their offensive game.