Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 6/29/12

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 05: Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 5, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The player review you've all been waiting for. Michael Del Zotto was and still is one of the more debated names on the New York Rangers roster amongst fans. His offensive smarts that are sometimes hidden by his defensive blunders have the fan base split when it comes to the 22-year-old from Ontario, Canada. As a current restricted free agent, he's a name we will be hearing a lot from now until September. Unless, of course, he is gone by then. 

The Good: Michael Del Zotto made great strides this season as compared to his last, finishing fifth on the team in scoring with ten goals and 41 points. His offensive game has improved majorly and even grew stronger as the year progressed. From that standpoint, Michael was great, helping to lead the rush and create offense. Also overlooked was his plus-20 overall rating, which is fantastic for an offensive-minded defenseman in today's NHL. 

As compared to 2010-11, Del Zotto made tremendous progress in his game to prove that he belongs at the NHL level this past season. He's no longer a player who will borderline the NHL and AHL, possibly having to start over from the beginning. He's finally found his game, or at least half of it, and gained some trust out of the coaching staff and fans. He's dynamic when it comes to the offensive side of things. 

The Bad: On defense, however, that is not so much the case with DZ. While his offensive game greatly improved, his defensive game remained the same, if not grew worse. He's fortunate that his assists outweigh the number of goals against he was out for this season, otherwise he'd have some ugly numbers up on the board. And the frustrating part of it is that a majority of Michael's mistakes on D are the result of mental failures. Whether it is pinching at the wrong time, getting caught in no-man's land or not protecting the crease, it's all preventable with a little thinking. 

Oh, and the postseason was a complete disaster for Michael. He was clearly nervous, he was constantly coughing up the puck and lacked any sort of confidence that could've helped him fight through it. Again, the Rangers cannot afford to have top contributors during the regular season suddenly fall off into nothing when the playoffs roll around. That is far too costly, especially on defense. 

Oh, and he tweets wayyyy too much. He thinks 'Ja Rule' is still a relevant music artist. Just saying. 

Highlight of the Year:

 

Overall Assessment: With Del Zotto, you must take the good with the bad. He'll give you offense from the back-end, but he is not the most reliable player when it comes to defending. At this point, he isn't expected to give the team strong defense, but rather contribute on the scoreboard and help to create scoring chances off the rush - which he has shown that he can do quite well. Del Zotto is a restricted free agent and just this past week was qualified by the team. We'll see where negotiations go from here, but if the Rangers somehow land this Schultz kid, that likely means the end of DZ on Broadway. 

Report Card Grade: B

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