TORONTO- New York Rangers Defenceman Michael Del Zotto didn’t pay too much attention to all the Rick Nash to New York trade speculation that took place this past season.
He did, however, recognize that his name was brought up in discussions on more than one occasion regarding what it could potentially take to get the 28-year-old All Star away from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“I heard about it as soon as January came, then again at trade deadline,” said Del Zotto about his name being tossed around. “You realize it’s a business and whatever happens, happens. All I can control is my work on the ice and the rest is out of my hands.”
In the end, it didn’t cost New York their young blue liner to acquire the seven-time 30-goal scorer and, with the Nash saga in Columbus finished, Del Zotto is more than pleased to see the way everything turned out.
“Adding an extra piece like that, a pretty lethal offensive talent, it definitely makes our team more dangerous upfront,” he said about the addition of Nash. “All situations he will help, five-on-five, power play. He adds another line to our team and will make it tough for other teams to shut us down.”
Last season the New York Rangers led the Eastern Conference with 109 points, just two points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the President’s Trophy, however that came in large part to Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist and a defence that allowed the third least amount of goals in the entire NHL.
Their offence struggled at times, finishing the regular season 13th in scoring, and the inconsistency continued into the playoffs. Even though New York made it to the Eastern Conference Final, they were the lowest scoring team remaining of the final four clubs and eventually bowed out to the New Jersey Devils.
“Expectations were high last year and we didn’t live up to them,” said Del Zotto. “I think scoring in general will be higher this year because that was one of our biggest problems last season. As a whole, we’re going to have to be better putting the puck in the net.”
On Tuesday, Del Zotto was in Toronto working with skating consultant Barbara Underhill. While he was taking part in an hour of drills, preparing for the upcoming season, his agent Don Meehan was working on getting the restricted free agent a new contract with the Rangers.
“We’re in negotiations right now,” said Del Zotto about not having a deal set. “My job is on the ice and now it’s up to management and my agency to do the rest.”
The 22-year-old is coming off an entry-level contract that paid him $875 000 annually and after finishing his third NHL season with career bests in goals, points and plus/minus, it’s expected he’ll be looking for more money. While his full intentions are to re-sign with the Rangers, he won’t give a timeline as to when it will happen.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. It never comes that easy,” he said. “I’m just going about my business, preparing for training camp and whatever happens, happens.”
Someone who the Rangers do have locked up for the next two seasons is head coach John Tortorella. The 2012 Jack Adams trophy candidate led the Rangers to 51 wins last year and Del Zotto says there is more to his coach than just a post-game audio clip.
“He’s passionate and gets the most out of you every night,” he said. “Everyone sees him on TV, and how hard he is on us, but you only see one side of him. He’s a great coach. Wants to win and that’s a quality you want in your coach.”
Del Zotto will be back on the ice again later this week with Underhill and expects to stick around the Toronto area for now as his family lives just north of the city.