With Marc Staal's most recent concussion, the thought was Michael Del Zotto would get a real opportunity to prove himself one last time before the Rangers finally ship him out of town.
However, with the recall of Dylan McIlrath, it looks like Del Zotto's opportunity might have lasted all of two games as he or Justin Falk will likely come out of the lineup for the Undertaker.
It's no secret that Vigneault hasn't been enamored with Del Zotto since his arrival as evidenced by his decision to make the defenseman a healthy scratch seven times in the first 32 games as well as this statement earlier in the season (via Pro Hockey Talk)…
“I’ve been told his strengths are his ability to beat the forecheck, join the rush, help out on the power play and get shots through. I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis for him to be able to say he’s going to be in the lineup every night.”
Now it looks like the two are in disagreement about Del Zotto's recent performance (via Bergen Record)…
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get back to where I want to be, I felt that I made steps in the right direction the last couple of games and obviously the more minutes the more comfortable you get. It’s a matter of moving forward."
Meanwhile, Vigneault painted a very different picture:
“Yeah, he’s been all right. He’s had his moments where he’s jumped up in the attack and made the right plays. On their second goal, we’ve got three forwards deep and he decides to stay in and test the waters a little bit. We came back, we had even numbers but their guys made a real good play on that play. Sometimes those are the ones you might be better off being a little bit on the defensive side if you see three guys caught in deep in that situation. He probably thought he could keep the puck in and he didn’t.”
…Del Zotto may have been a little bit better the last two games, but not being as atrocious isn't good enough. Del Zotto is on this team to provide offense from the blueline and quarterback the power play, so if he remains unable to deliver, I have to assume Vigneault is going to push Sather to move his 23-year old defenseman. If he hasn't already.
…i was really douped into thinking Del Zotto would be able to figure it out under a more offensive-minded coach. I bought into the fact that Tortorella had possibly put the shackles on the Toronto native and once unchained he would thrive in a system that allowed him to showcase a great outlet pass and finally lead a successful Rangers power play. But if he can't produce under either regime, I have to wonder if he'll ever succeed in the NHL.
…and don't get me started on his defensive deficiencies. It makes me yearn for the days when Marek Malik roamed the blueline for the Rangers.
…add in having a guy like John Moore, who essentially has the same skill set as Del Zotto, on the roster and it makes the embattled defenseman that much more expendable.
…plus if McIlrath offers even a semblance of being able to handle the NHL game, Del Zotto will be out of New York quicker than a teenage boy losing his virginity.