Remember Michael Del Zotto? He’s Struggling in Nashville

Quick! Think of one of the more polarizing Rangers’ players of the past few seasons? It’s a safe bet the name Michael Del Zotto comes up. Billed with promise, MDZ never quite panned out after his impressive ’09-10 rookie season and 41-point campaign back in ’11-12. The Rangers finally cut bait with the young defenseman in a January trade with Nashville for the veteran Kevin Klein.

Some viewed it as a bad move, as defenseman typically take longer to develop than any other position outside of goaltender. Down the road, it may come back to haunt New York that they cut bait on an offensive blueliner early in his career. However, in the short term, the Rangers have come out the beneficiaries of the trade.

Not very good numbers for Del Zotto, who the Preds were initially elated to acquire. What’s more, Del Zotto was scratched for the first time last night, leaving Nashville head coach Barry Trotz to explain the move. His words weren’t exactly the warmest.

“His game has slipped, and our coaching staff has talked to him about making solid decisions, solid plays and he has gotten away from that a little bit,” Trotz said. “We had some healthy people and we felt this would be a good time.”

“You’re always competing for a spot. He’s not veteran enough to not compete for a spot,” Trotz said. “Every night has to be about consistency for him and we have some people we can pull in and out.”

Oof. A frank assessment. But, haven’t we heard this before?

Judging from afar, the issues that plagued Del Zotto in New York (making ill-advised decisions, turning the puck over, blowing defensive coverages, not learning from past mistakes) have traveled with him to Tennessee. John Tortorella always spoke of MDZ needing to play with swagger, not arrogance, to have an effective game. He’s still struggling to find that balance on top of learning a new system on the fly.

It’s been a rough go of it for Michael Del Zotto. You hope he does find his game and some consistency, but the early returns after his trade out of New York aren’t promising.

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About James Wrabel, Jr.