by Patrick Hoffman on 08/31/11 at 12:26 PM ET
That could end up being the understatement of the season for the New York Rangers’ 21-year-old defenseman.
After bursting onto the scene with a 37-point rookie campaign in 2009-10, Del Zotto’s play regressed mightily last season. Del Zotto struggled with both inconsistent play and injuries that ultimately led to his demotion to the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League.
There is no doubt that Del Zotto has offensive ability. He has a great shot, he knows how to find the open man and he can rush the puck. With that said, however, he does none of those good things on a consistent basis, which leads him to missing the net, turning over the puck or leaving himself out of position on the backend.
Looking at this upcoming season, one has to wonder where/if Del Zotto will fit in with the Rangers’ young defensive corps. The team already has the top four spots locked up with Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer. Obviously, none of those spots will be up for grabs.
For the fifth and sixth spot, one has to think Steve Eminger will be one of the guys to grab it while the sixth spot could become a competition between Del Zotto and highly-touted prospect Tim Erixon.
Del Zotto will have to do everything he possibly can to show the organization that he can play at the NHL level and that his rookie season was not a fluke. He will have to show the coaching staff that he has improved in the areas that they told him to work on and that he is ready to be a consistent player.
If Del Zotto cannot do any of those things, he may become expendable and for a very young defenseman, the Rangers’ need to hope that it does not come down to that.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
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