Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/6/14
If this doesn’t represent a wake-up call for Michael Del Zotto, 24 and unemployed, then nothing will. For this isn’t Del Zotto being sent to the AHL midway through his second NHL (and pro) season by the Rangers and John Tortorella, or Del Zotto being scratched nine times by Alain Vigneault, or Del Zotto being kept out of the lineup in Nashville by Barry Trotz, or even David Poile passing on the Predators’ $2.9 million qualifier. This is, rather, Del Zotto still searching for someone willing to buy low on him during an early summer in which the market for defensemen — serviceable and otherwise — has resembled the Dow Jones and even people like Deryk Engelland and Nikita Nikitin were treated as blue-chip stocks. Remember last summer when it appeared Del Zotto, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello would be the biggest beneficiaries of the Rangers’ coaching change from Tortorella to Vigneault? Well, two out of three isn’t bad. Del Zotto, given all sorts of freedom on the ice, couldn’t take advantage of the clean slate; never was able to play to his perceived offensive strengths; never quite clicked with upbeat, positive-thinking assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson any more than he had previously with the dour and sour Mike Sullivan. My goodness, by December Del Zotto had somehow fallen behind Justin (Hell No, I Won’t Go … to Hartford… for Conditioning!) Falk on the depth chart. A new start with Vigneault ended with a trade for Kevin Klein. A fresh start in Nashville under Trotz ended without an invite to return for newly hired Peter Laviolette. At some point, it is not on the coaches. Some point is at this point. Other than Martin Brodeur, who is a unique case, Del Zotto is the most intriguing free agent remaining on the market. He simply is too young with too much ability to already have landed in the overstock bin.
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