Rangers, Del Zotto agree to terms
Defenseman sticking with Blueshirts after 41-point season last year
• Gilroy Returns to the Blueshirts
|Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, a 2008 first-round draft pick, is coming off the best of his three pro seasons having just turned 22 last June.|
Del Zotto, 22, established career-highs with 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points, along with 36 penalty minutes and a career-best, plus-20 rating in 77 games last season. He also set career-highs in blocked shots (95), shorthanded goals (one), shorthanded assists (two), shorthanded points (three), game-winning goals (two), and shots on goal (113). Del Zotto led all team defensemen in goals, assists and points, and ranked fifth on the team overall in points and power play points (14), fourth in assists, and second in power play assists (13).
The Stouffville, Ontario native reached the 10-goal/40-point marks for the first time with a career-high, three-point performance (two goals, one assist), while skating in his 200th career NHL game on March 30 against Montreal. He notched both goals in the third period of the contest to become the first Rangers defenseman to accomplish the feat since James Patrick in 1988.
Selected as the Rangers’ first round choice, 20th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Del Zotto made his playoff debut last season, finishing fourth among NHL defensemen in points (10), tied for fourth in assists (eight), sixth in goals (two), third in power play assists (three) and second in power play points (four). He tied for fourth on the team in points, third in assists, second in power play assists and second in power play points. Del Zotto notched the series-clinching goal at 10:05 of the third period, and added an assist, on May 12 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Washington.
The 6-0, 195-pounder has skated in 204 career NHL games in three seasons with the Rangers, registering 21 goals and 68 assists for 89 points, along with 88 penalty minutes. Del Zotto was named to the 2010 NHL All-Rookie Team after leading all NHL rookies in power play assists (18), and finishing second in power play points (22), tied for fifth in power play goals (four) and seventh in points (37) during the 2009-10 season. He was named NHL Rookie of the Month for October that season, registering 12 points and three power play goals in 14 games.
Del Zotto notched the game-winning goal while making his NHL debut on October 3, 2009 against Ottawa to become the first teenager to tally a goal for the Rangers since Manny Malhotra in 1998-99, and the second youngest defensemen in team history to accomplish the feat behind Red Garrett.