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 2009 Prospects: Q&A with Michael Del Zotto Allow Anonymous Users Reply to This Topic...
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Posted - 04/24/2009 :  17:51:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The New York Rangers had only one pick in the first two rounds of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and when it came up, they opted for OHL defenseman Michael Del Zotto with the 20th overall selection.

Michael Del Zotto
Class of 2008 Ė 1st round (20th overall)
Born: June 24, 1990 in Stouffville, Ontario
Height: 5-11
Weight: 200 lbs

NHL Translation: Offensive Defenseman
NHL Comparable: Scott Niedermayer

Averaging close to a point per game, Del Zotto is on his way to an impressive career in the NHL as an offensively savvy defenseman. The one fault critics have found in his game is a deficiency in his own zone, but even these defensive issues have cleared up since joining the Knights. He has greatly improved his defensive numbers and benefited from strong team play (putting a plus-9 in 28 games). With his sights firmly set on a Memorial Cup in what could be his last full season of Major Junior.

SYPís Jordan Birch sits down with New York Rangers prospect, Michael Del Zotto:

Jordan: You have been described as a prototypical offensive defenseman. Is this how you see your game?

Michael: Yes, definitely. Thatís going to be my go-to once I get to the next level and thatís what theyíre looking for from me, but I obviously canít be a defensive liability.

Jordan: You wear the number 4 on the back of your jersey in tribute of Bobby Orr. Have you tried to style your game in the mold of Orr?

Michael: Iíve tried as best I can to, but I donít think anyone really can. When he came up he was a new type of defensemen and set the mold for the typical offensive defensemen. I try to play that style but heís one of the best ever and I donít think anyone can really be compared to him.

Jordan: You played some of your earliest hockey with exceptionally gifted players like Steven Stamkos and Cody Hodgson on the Markham Waxers. How exciting was it for all three of you to be drafted in the top 20 of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft?

Michael: I got pretty lucky to play with guys like that and seeing them have success and going that early in the NHL Draft. They deserve it, they worked hard and they are having great seasons thus far.

Jordan: Have you been keeping an eye on Stamkosí play this season? What do you think of his progress?

Michael: Heís improved a lot since the coaching change. Even though he went through some rough patches, heís had a chance to earn more playing time and has thrived off the opportunity.

Jordan: Being familiar with the 2008 first overall selection (Stamkos) and playing much of your OHL career with the projected 2009 first overall selection John Tavares, can you describe the differences and similarities in their respective games?

Michael: Itís pretty hard to pick apart guys who are going first overall. Theyíre both great all-around players. Iíve just been lucky to play with such high profile guys who make the game easier for me.

Jordan: The Rangers also selected an offensive defenseman in the first round of the 2006 Entry Draft in Bobby Sanguinetti. The year before that (2005), they selected Marc Staal as their first round pick. Can you see the possibilities of a blue line that features you alongside either of these two?

Michael: Yeah, that would be unbelievable. Theyíre two young great defensemen and I got a chance to know them; Marc Staal in my first year playing in the All-Star game and I hung out with Sangs [Bobby Sanguinetti] quite a bit when I was over in New York. Theyíre both great players and great people off the ice. It would be unbelievable playing with them some time in the near future.

Jordan: Youíve mentioned that one of your favourite players is Scott Niedermayer, have there been any other influences to speak of?

Michael: Yeah him [Niedermayer] and most recently would be Mike Green from Washington. Just how he [Green] plays and his ability to control the play and create offense from the back end is unbelievable.

Jordan: You finished the regular season with the Knights worst +/- rating at -3 (-12 in Oshawa, +9 in London). While a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that you see tremendous ice time with the man advantage and there was that one minus-6 game in Oshawa, do you feel any pressure to find a balance between offense and defense?

Michael: Well I played a lot of ice time over in Oshawa and we struggled a bit this year so itís something I have to deal with. Since Iíve been here, Iíve been a plus player and thatís something I really want to work on, my defensive game.

Jordan: Have you ever participated in a fantasy hockey draft or pool?

Michael: No, I havenít

Jordan: If you were to participate who would you be selecting first overall and why?

Michael: Alex Ovechkin, heís just so talented.

Jordan: Having grown up in the hockey rich province of Ontario and skated with so many talented players, is there anyone that may be flying under the radar that will find success at the NHL level?

Michael: Not really, Iíve played with a lot of really great players and theyíre all really talented.

Jordan: As an offensive player, your first NHL goal is inevitable. Where is that puck going to be kept?

Michael: Iíd give it to my parents as soon as I got the puck.

Jordan Birch writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!

Get your Playoff Fantasy Guide for only $9.99 at http://www.pickuphockey.com/hp/hp_fantasyguide.aspx

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