I’m a little late on this, but Michael Del Zotto’s name was linked to the Senators once again courtesy of Darren Dreger who appeared on TSN radio this past Monday.
If you’ll recall, the TSN panel was the first to broach news back in November that the Senators were one of the teams at the forefront of discussions with the Rangers because of their need for a puck-moving defenceman.
Here’s what was said at the time…
Darren Dreger: "We are hearing some interesting names that are starting to surface. Two of them that come to mind are Brayden Schenn of the Phildadelphia Flyers and Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers. Now the Flyers aren't trying to push out Schenn – they may want to push out his brother Luke – but what they've told teams quietly is that if there is the right deal available, if they can find the right fit, then absolutely they would include Brayden Schenn in a trade scenario. And we know Paul Holmgren likes to make that big blockbuster deal. As for Del Zotto and the Rangers, he's not having a good year, playing well behind Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal on the left side, so he's a third-pairing defenceman. He could probably embrace a change and we're told that at least five or six teams have inquired about scenarios."
Pierre LeBrun: "I think one of those teams is the Ottawa Senators. They've had this mystifying start, they've been so inconsistent and I'm told one of their top priorities on the trade market between now and the trade deadline is to find another puck-moving defenceman and Del Zotto is on that list of players on their radar. But it's money in, money out with the Senators with the situation with ownership."
Eventually, Dreger would quell any concern that Ottawa would be acquiring Del Zotto.
No match between Sens and NYR on Del Zotto. Told Ott made Gryba, Greening and Condra available. Fit wasn't right for NYR.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 26, 2013
If you’re sage enough to examine everything that the organization spoon feeds its fans with a critical eye, you may disregard the organization’s insistence that if management can make this team better, ownership will allow an increase in payroll to accommodate such an acquisition. Or at the very least, you’ll ask the organization to put its money where its mouth is.
As inconsequential players, the leaking of these specific names could have simply been used as a mechanism to shake things up within the room or portray a situation in which management was exhausting its avenues without ever really having the financial flexibility to make this deal.
Or maybe this was simply a classic lowball offer that should only be seen as an indictment of Del Zotto’s play or as a reflection of how serious Ottawa’s level of interest was for management to offer up the likes of Gryba, Greening and/or Condra.
Whatever the case, Dreger has dragged up Del Zotto’s name again and it has created somewhat of a modest stir:
"Del Zotto obviously doesn’t mesh well with Alain Vigneault. (The Rangers) continue to look for defencemen. They continue to look for more size up front, so this is a team that is searching for answers. Management is looking for a quick fix and that just doesn’t happen, so I think that perhaps, perhaps, we’re seeing the real New York Ranger team here. A team that is definitely is in search of some change and in the New Year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised… not even in the New Year, when the roster freeze lifts guys, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make that trade and Del Zotto goes to Ottawa or somewhere else.”
On paper, the inclusion of Ottawa seems pretty significant, but if you listen to the actual clip, the inclusion sounds pretty innocuous. (Note: You can listen to the interview here. Tune in at the 6:00 mark to listen to Dreger's comments on Del Zotto.)
It’s no secret that the Senators’ play has rebounded nicely over the past 15 games or so, and as part of that process, the defensive corps has done a much better job of playing with the puck. Cody Ceci’s emergence and play has certainly suppressed the need for another puck-moving defenceman, but the play of Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch and Marc Methot has also helped shelve any trade discussions.
Moreover, if you assume Chris Phillips will sign an extension and include Mark Borowiecki because of his one-way contract for next season, the addition of Del Zotto would give the Senators six defencemen who shoot left.
Unless acquiring Del Zotto is part of some master plan that sees the organization parlay one of their defencemen for another forward, making that move now doesn’t make any sense.
Mind you, it wouldn’t be the first time the organization made a nonsensical move for a youngish blueliner who had fallen out of favor with a coach in New York. Say, where is Chris Campoli these days anyway?