Still awaiting the official announcement, but Michael Del Zotto had been sent down to Connecticut of the AHL after being scratched for four straight games, and then sliding out of the play on Christopher Higgins’ goal Sunday in Sunrise, Fla.
Del Zotto had been scratched once earlier this season, and the feeling then was that a game in the pressbox, where he was told to take notes, might fix his struggling game.
Del Zotto, who worked hard with ex-NHLer Gary Roberts over the summer to try and add some muscle and avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump,” did not avoid it. Though coach John Tortorella has praised Del Zotto’s “arrogance” — his confidence and lack of fear while trying to make great plays — that apparently is exactly what got him a seat during games, and ultimately this move.
Del Zotto looked tentative and unsure in his return to the lineup Sunday, and perhaps this move is best for him — a move to the Whale (formerly the Wolf Pack), where he can try to get back his confidence and get his game in order. Also, he will be able to play and log big minutes instead of sitting out.
The Rangers recalled Ryan McDonagh, the touted rookie D-man they obtained in the Scott Gomez deal, which might mean that Matt Gilroy — who had been the regular scratch before Del Zotto, and who did a similar slide along the ice on the game-winning goal for Tampa Bay on Saturday, will return to street clothes Wednesday when the Rangers host Carolina.
Here’s the official announcement from the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS TRANSACTION UPDATE
New York, January 3, 2011 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that defenseman Ryan McDonagh has been recalled from the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League (AHL), while defenseman Michael Del Zotto has been assigned to Connecticut.
McDonagh, 21, has registered one goal and seven assists, along with 12 penalty minutes in 38 games with Connecticut this season. He ranks second among Whale defensemen in scoring with eight points, and is second with seven assists. McDonagh tallied five points (one goal, four assists) in an eight-game span from December 11 vs. Manchester to December 29 vs. Portland, ending the stretch with a three-game assist streak from December 21 at Manchester to December 29. He notched his first professional goal with a power play tally on December 11 vs. Manchester. McDonagh has posted a plus or even rating in 20 of his last 24 games, registering a plus-nine rating over the span. The former first round pick made his professional debut on October 9 vs. Charlotte, and registered his first career point with an assist on November 7 vs. Bridgeport.
Last season, the 6-1, 213-pounder established collegiate career-highs in games played (43), assists (14), points (18), and penalty minutes (73) while skating with the NCAA runner-up University of Wisconsin Badgers. He also ranked second on the team with a plus-22 rating. McDonagh registered an assist on the game-winning goal in the National Semifinal game vs. R.I.T. on April 8, 2010 to help Wisconsin advance to the National Championship game vs. Boston College. In three seasons with the Badgers, he registered 14 goals and 32 assists for 46 points, along with 174 penalty minutes in 119 career games.
The St. Paul, Minnesota native was originally Montreal’s first round choice, 12th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Rangers, along with forward Christopher Higgins and defenseman Pavel Valentenko, from Montreal in exchange for forwards Scott Gomez and Tom Pyatt, and defenseman Mike Busto on June 30, 2009.
Del Zotto, 20, has registered two goals and seven assists, along with 14 penalty minutes in 35 games this season. Five of his nine points have been recorded on the power play. He made his 100th career NHL appearance on November 19 at Colorado.
The Stouffville, Ontario native was originally the Rangers’ first round choice, 20th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The Rangers’ practice schedule for tomorrow, January 4, is 11:00 a.m. at the MSG Training Center.
EVENING UPDATE, 4:57 p.m.: According to several reports, John Tortorella said that McDonagh probably will not play on Wednesday or remain on the NHL roster.