Rangers defender Michael Del Zotto is seen on the ice.

Rangers defender Michael Del Zotto is seen on the ice. Credit: Getty Images

The Islanders are in trouble on defense -- bigger trouble now that Thomas Hickey, one of the few remaining reliable defensemen, is likely out.

The Rangers need to make a change and want Michael Del Zotto to be the one moving out.

Here is a not-so-modest, but sensible, proposal: A real trade between the Isles and Rangers.

Garth Snow has been working the phones to find a defenseman who a) is more than just a spare part; and b) won’t cost him a prime player or prospect. That’s a tall order -- see how many teams need top-four defensemen and how many deals have been made for one so far this season.

The answer is zero, at least since the season began.

So players like Del Zotto aren’t available much. He’s struggled now under two Rangers coaches and needs a change of scenery. His contract expires at the end of the season and is a reasonable $2.55 million; it isn’t bound to go up much considering what he’s done this season and last.

He can skate, he’s a power-play guy, he fits with what the Islanders want to do and, perhaps a big factor, he’s very tight with John Tavares -- they played three seasons of junior hockey together.

Now, this is supposing Glen Sather and Snow could agree on a return. The Rangers need a defenseman back and the Isles don’t have any to offer. Maybe the Rangers would flip Del Zotto for one of the Isles forwards, then find another D somewhere else?

There would be plenty of moving parts to this. But the fit is there -- Del Zotto is the type of player who would thrive helping run an Isles system that relies on puck-moving defensemen and puck possession, two things they do not have the horses to do right now on defense.

If the impediment is a big gamble between the two local rivals, well, that is ludicrous. You have a chance to make a deal, you make it, no matter who it’s with.

The Isles are doing school visits Monday morning, then practicing at noon. Will Sammon will have updates later from there, including details on how long Hickey could be out.

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