New York Rangers: Potential Trade Targets for Michael Del Zotto

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New York Rangers: Potential Trade Targets for Michael Del Zotto

MDZ
Brad Penner - USA TODAY Sports

Let's begin by stating the obvious; Michael Del Zotto's days with the New York Rangers are severely numbered. He was a healthy scratch in Saturday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens, and is a healthy scratch again tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. He has fallen completely out of favor with head coach Alain Vigneault, and may not see much ice time under his watch again.

It is really a sad state of affairs for Del Zotto. He made the NHL at age 19, a year after being the Rangers' No. 1 draft pick. There were very high hopes for him; some called him the next Brian Leetch, others said he would be an elite power play quarterback in the league. Neither has materialized, and he has regressed every season since his rookie year. His defensive zone coverage is atrocious, and his point shot is one of the most inaccurate in the league.

If he does play again soon, it may be his last chance to prove himself to Vigneault. The same trick was pulled when Mats Zuccarello was scratched earlier this season. Since then, he has been a new, more improved player. If Del Zotto wants to stay in New York, he will have to use his scratch as pure motivation to prove his most important doubter, his coach, wrong.

Should Del Zotto be moving on, however, the Rangers will have a hole to fill, whether by replacing him with another defenseman or adding more scoring depth. Here's a look at some potential targets for the Rangers to fill Del Zotto's spot on the roster.

Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattNYR12, "like" him on Facebook, and connect with him on Google Plus for all NYR news and notes!

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5. Nail Yakupov

Nail
Perry Nelson - USA TODAY Sports

Here's a familiar name. The Rangers and Edmonton Oilers were rumored to be in talks for a deal for Yakupov as early as a week ago. Could it still happen?

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4. Ryan Whitney

Whitney
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers defenseman Ryan Whitney is an unrestricted free agent following the season, and the Panthers appear to be ready to rebuild. He was recently sent down to the AHL as he has gotten off to a nightmarish start in Florida. Perhaps a change of scenery in a contract year will rejuvenate him.

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3. Mark Stuart

Stuart
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Another defenseman in a contract year, the Winnipeg Jets' Mark Stuart has two points and is a plus-2. His physicality is something the Rangers could use improvement on at the blue line, which would greatly benefit Henrik Lundqvist.

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2. Henrik Tallinder

Henrik Tallinder
Tom Szczerbowski - USA TODAY Sports

It's fire sale time in Buffalo! The Buffalo Sabres are rebuilding, and look to trade anyone with an expiring contract. They've already done with Thomas Vanek, and will do so again with Ryan Miller. But here's a dark horse: Henrik Tallinder. Like Stuart, Tallinder is large-bodied stay-at-home defenseman who plays a physical game and is unafraid to mix it up. He will provide the experience and blue-line stability the Rangers need.

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1. Matt Moulson

Moulson
Tom Szczerbowski - USA TODAY Sports

Matt Moulson was dealt to the Sabres from the New York Islanders in exchange for Thomas Vanek. The thought here is that he will be dealt again, and the Rangers could not only use his scoring touch but his intangibles as well.

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