Nov 20, 2013, 1:20 PM EST
If there were any doubts Michael Del Zotto was in the doghouse, his head coach erased them on Wednesday.
“I have been told he is a much better player,” Alain Vigneault said of Del Zotto, as per the Rangers’ Twitter account. “I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis.
“We’ll see how he responds.”
Del Zotto, who has been a healthy scratch in three straight games, will likely draw back into the lineup for Thursday’s game in Dallas, which could be a showcase more than anything else. Trade speculation has heated up around the 23-year-old rearguard, with reports surfacing on Tuesday night linking Del Zotto to Ottawa.
This development marks a pretty quick fall from grace for Del Zotto. Last season, he signed a two-year, $5.1 million extension and proceeded to score 21 points in 46 games, leading all Rangers defensemen in scoring.
Through 16 games this year, he has just four points and is averaging a career-low 18:28 TOI per game.
Worth noting that it’s not uncommon for Vigneault to put defensemen in his doghouse. He routinely banished Keith Ballard to the press box during his time in Vancouver and, prior to Ballard, often made Shane O’Brien a healthy scratch (though to be fair, Ballard was used sparingly because he didn’t fit the Canucks’ scheme; O’Brien’s issues often stemmed from a lack of fitness and maturity.)
Del Zotto hasn’t said much in response to being a healthy scratch but, following his third straight game in the press box, admitted the situation was getting to him.
“Frustration,” he told Newsday. “It’s something you never want. You always work so hard to play and you always want to be playing. And that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
UPDATE: We do read the comments section on PHT and appreciate feedback, and it appears some have taken issue with this headline. I genuinely don’t think it’s an issue but, since some do, here is the entire quote (courtesy the Bergen Record).
“I can only speak for what I’ve seen so far, and what I’ve seen so far on our team as far as our defensive corps is playing, is he’s fighting for one of the regular six spots,” Vigneault said. “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 and get shots through. I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis for him to be able to say he’s going to be in the lineup every night. Some other Ds can have an off night, you’re going to throw them back in even though they have. Michael in the 20 some odd games that I’ve been here has not shown that consistently enough. We’ll see how he responds and we’ll go from there.
“He is supposed to be a skating defenseman that can beat the forecheck, that can join the rush and obviously has the ability to chip in on the power play,” Vigneault added. “That means he can get a shot through, he can see people that are open around the net. I’ve seen that throughout the span that I’ve been here but I haven’t seen it consistently enough to say he warrants a regular spot all the time. I can only go by what I’ve seen and with what my coaches are seeing. I wasn’t here in the past.”
As always, feel free to voice your opinions below.
Feb 28, 2015, 1:02 AM EST
L.A. played the night before.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:07 AM EST
Lost to Carolina on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
He was traded from Philadelphia to Chicago on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 10:34 PM EST
Meanwhile, Calgary’s playoff hopes take another hit.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:56 PM EST
Important win for Boston.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:37 PM EST
Feb 27, 2015, 9:19 PM EST
Should be interesting.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Another day, another trade.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EST
Pascal Dupuis recently opened up about his condition.
Feb 27, 2015, 7:30 PM EST
The Habs host the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:37 PM EST
That’s according to multiple reports.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:28 PM EST
Trade deadline is Monday, by the way.
Feb 27, 2015, 5:25 PM EST
Was aiming to play Saturday versus the Rangers.
Feb 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST
GM Doug Wilson has some decisions to make…
Feb 27, 2015, 3:17 PM EST
So says NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Feb 27, 2015, 3:04 PM EST
Some recommended reading to pass along.
Feb 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
Incident occurred during last night’s San Jose-Detroit game.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:53 PM EST
Were dominated by the Red Wings for the final two periods of last night’s loss.
Feb 27, 2015, 1:46 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Feb 27, 2015, 1:35 PM EST
Could it keep him from getting moved by Monday?
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 5
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 4
- Breaking: Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 21
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Burgled: Sens’ Hammond shuts out Kings 14
- Wild get important win vs. Preds (and some luck, too) 41
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs 66
- Panthers acquire Jagr from Devils 29
- Trotz doesn’t see a ‘big, sexy, difference-maker guy’ on the market 17
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- ‘I don’t know why we’re so comfortable,’ says Toews after loss to Avalanche (69)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)