“A player like Michael has to play to his strengths. I’ve been told his strengths are his ability to beat the forecheck, join the rush, help out on the power play, get his shots through,” Vigneault said after the benching. “I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis for him to be able to say that he’s going to be in the lineup every night…I’ve been told that Michael Del Zotto is a much better player than I’ve seen so far.”
With that in mind, the Rangers finally moved Del Zotto on Wednesday. They traded the blueliner to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenceman Kevin Klein.
For the Rangers, Klein should be a nice fit. He played with Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan in Guelph and fills in a gap for the Blueshirts on the right side.
“Michael gives us another young, gifted left-handed shooting defenceman with significant offensive upside,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “We look forward to his presence on our already talented young blue line, further balancing our defensive corps.”
Del Zotto is restricted free agent set for a contract extension this summer, which could open them up to a little rewiring. Klein’s contract sat at $14.5 million over the course of five years, so perhaps some of that weight could be offloaded.
The Predators also have a wealth of right-handed shooting defenceman, with Shea Weber and Seth Jones making it hard to compete for a slot on the right side. As Poile notes, options are good.
This isn’t a blockbuster deal by any means, but it does fill needs for both squads and it does help the Rangers unload a player that they weren’t happy with. I’d call that a win-win.