Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is Sending Del Zotto Down The Right Move?; Marc-Andre Bergeron PP QB Answer?

Yesterday John Tortorella created a buzz concerning second year defenseman Michael Del Zotto when Jim Cerny’s twitter, Tortorella said he has not ruled out possibly sending Del Zotto down to the Connecticut Whale (AHL) for a stint in the minors.  Obviously with any move that the Rangers make with MDZ right now there are positives and negatives to them.  I want to take a look at what the good and bad of making the AHL move would be for Del Zotto along with if anyone from Connecticut could come up or if someone outside is the solution for the Rangers right now.

The reality is to be effective in the NHL the biggest factor even more than the obvious level of skill required is confidence.  Without confidence the level of skill will be rendered meaningless because you are left with a player who is thinking too much and second guessing everything they do which basically leaves them paralyzed as a player.  Del Zotto can say all the right things in interviews that he wants, but watch him play and it is clear he has no confidence to his game right now and is trying to force it to come back.

On the positive side if he is going to be a scratch consistently even for a short time frame whether healthy or the new mystery issue every few days then going down would allow him to play and play a lot.  Not only would he be able to get significant minutes, but he could do it with significantly less pressure from the coaches and scrutiny from fans and the media being in Connecticut as opposed to the biggest stage in the world.  What is going on right now is there is a sense of fear in every move that Del Zotto makes much like Gilroy had when he came back up last season that if he screws a play up, especially defensively, he could be out of the lineup the next time out.  Sending him down to Hartford would allow the pressure to release to some extent and let him get back to playing hockey in a freer flowing and natural way.  He could get back to doing things like rushing the puck and manning the power play while also working with a veteran like Wade Redden on how to make the simple plays instead of constantly aiming for the touchdown on every play. 

Say what you want about Redden’s play and time in New York, but what Wade has forgotten about the game of hockey and being exactly what the Rangers hope Del Zotto will become is more than most will ever know.  It also does not hurt that Redden can understand exactly where Del Zotto is right now in taking the brunt of the fans and the media in terms of his abilities and what the team should do with him as Redden went through in this pressure cooker and while his play on the ice never lived up to the contract his class on and off the ice remained in-tact.  There is no better example of that fact than the job Redden has done bringing along all the young defenders already down in Hartford as many of them are transitioning to becoming professionals for the first time.  If Redden can do what he has done in the transformation of the Whale defensive core from the beginning of the year until now I think he could certainly aid Del Zotto is his path back to where he was and where he can get to.  All of those things for me make sending him to Connecticut a more constructive message than just sitting him in the press box to watch and write essays.

The biggest concern in sending Del Zotto down to the AHL is one of the shock to his confidence level and not knowing how he would respond to it.  Would he take it in the Zuccarello fashion of this year and work on his game forcing the Rangers to bring him back or would he have more of the Gilroy reaction of last season where it basically shot his game the rest of the season.  If Del Zotto takes the Zuccarello approach to it he would be back in New York in relatively short order and everyone would be better for it.

In terms of the Rangers if they send Del Zotto down I do not see anyone on the Whale roster who is ready to come up right now and play though Kundratek, McDonagh and Valenteko are getting closer day by day and might be ready for at least spot duty by the end of the season.  The Rangers could elect to go with six defenders and then either bring Del Zotto back or call someone else up if they had an injury and needed another body on defense. 

For me there is also another option that the Rangers could pursue which is someone outside the organization like Marc-Andre Bergeron.  Bergeron certainly has his faults on defense, but as a free agent he costs nothing but money, and not a lot of it at that.  What he can bring to this club is a consistent power play quarterback, a veteran defender and another left handed defenseman to mix in with all the right handers the Rangers currently have, especially if Del Zotto went down to the AHL.  If and when the Rangers want to bring Del Zotto back up it would only create more options for the club similar to the situation they have up front and other guys can be traded to bring assets back to the club to make room as well.

As always hit me with your thoughts.