The New York Islanders are hurting on defense. Lubomir Visnovsky remains out of the lineup with a concussion. Brian Strait has missed over half of the season with an upper-body injury. Thomas Hickey left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia with a lower-body injury, and a timetable for his return is expected to be announced later today.
The team’s defensive unit has been devastated early on into the 2013-14 season, and the group of players the team has been forced to go to war with has been manhandled on the ice, as a result.
For a few days now, Arthur Staple has reported that Garth Snow, the team’s General Manager, has been working the phones to find help – a defenseman who “a) is more than just a spare part; and b) won’t cost him a prime player or prospect.” Obviously, that’s not easy to come by –Staple mentioned that a whopping total of zero (0) top defensemen have been moved this season – however, the Islanders’ beat writer offered a suggestion: the team could go after Michael Del Zotto, the New York Rangers’ young, but available, defenseman.
Lay down your arms, Isles fans. Sure, it would mean a trade between two cross-town rivals. It would mean the Islanders and Rangers would have to communicate beyond their game-day “compliments.” As Staple also suggests, though, it should be kicked around and discussed, especially if it makes sense. It makes a lot of sense.
The fit is there. The Islanders are ailing on the defensive side of the ice. The Rangers are hurting on the offensive side of the ice. The Islanders are struggling mightily in their own zone. The Rangers are struggling mightily in the opposition’s zone. The Islanders can’t keep the puck out of their net, and the Rangers can’t put the puck in anybody else’s.
You get the point.
Del Zotto, 23, has struggled this season, but he also fits the criteria of what the Islanders are currently lacking. The Rangers defenseman is an offensive defenseman with the ability to man the power play (the Islanders power play has fell off the map since Visnovsky’s injury) and move the puck, specifically out of the defensive zone. The Islanders defensemen have been giveaway-machines this season, but Del Zotto would be able to improve the team’s transition game, especially with play moving away from the Islanders side of the ice.
He also fits the Islanders recent mold of talent – former first-round picks looking for a new start. Del Zotto was the 20th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft that has already succeeded at the NHL-level (he recorded 37 points in 2009-10, and 41 points in 2011-12).
He’s also “tight” with Islanders captain John Tavares – Staple also mentions how they played three seasons together for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
Of course, the trade would mean the Islanders would have to move one of their forwards, but that shouldn’t be a problem considering the team’s abundance of them. Most likely, the Rangers would have their choosing of a limited group – my guess would be Michael Grabner or Pierre-Marc Bouchard – but that would be left up to Snow and Co.
While nothing is certain, a Del Zotto trade is certainly worth kicking the tires on from an Islanders perspective.
Thoughts on a Del Zotto trade?