Scattered Clouds 45° Good Afternoon
Scattered Clouds 45° Good Afternoon

Michael Del Zotto gets a chance, but his Rangers future is hazy

Michael Del Zotto skates against the Toronto Maple

Michael Del Zotto skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period. (Dec. 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It appears that defenseman Michael Del Zotto isn't going anywhere right now.

The Rangers' brass has been listening to offers for Del Zotto, who was scratched for eight of the last 24 games before being given a start Saturday in Toronto, where the Rangers bagged the Leafs, 7-1.

Del Zotto played 17:38, including 1:25 on the power play, during which Brian Boyle redirected his point shot for a third-period goal. It was Del Zotto's first point in eight games and only his sixth assist of the season.

The game seemed to solidify Del Zotto's status, at least in the short term, because rookie Conor Allen was sent back to Hartford Sunday, leaving the Rangers with seven defensemen.

Allen, called up on Dec. 27 because of Anton Stralman's injured wrist, played three games and handled himself well. The Chicago native averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time and was a minus-1.

General manager Glen Sather appears unwilling to part with Del Zotto, who is in his fifth year with the club and is earning $2.9 million, for less than what he considers equal value. Coach Alain Vigneault is not enamored of Del Zotto's game, particularly his offensive contributions, and has called him "jittery" with the puck.

Unless Del Zotto can lift his game, his future in New York remains uncertain. An injury to one of the top four -- Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Stralman -- could elevate his status or prompt Sather to pull the trigger for a lesser return and bring Allen back into the mix.

Notes & quotes: Benoit Pouliot, who scored in Toronto and had another goal waved off on a goaltender-interference call, has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his last 14 games and eight goals overall . . . Backup goalie Cam Talbot, who made 25 saves Saturday and is 9-3 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage, could play again Monday night against the Blue Jackets. . . . Daniel Carcillo, acquired from Chicago on Saturday, is expected to join the team for the morning skate, but it is unclear whether he will dress.

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