No matter what moves they do or do not make, the Rangers will put a positive spin on it. It would be dumb not to otherwise people will not get excited about what they are doing.
Take signing 2008 First Round Pick Michael Del Zotto as an example; the Rangers are not going to say "well we signed Michael now but he has no shot at earning a roster spot at the next training camp"
If they did then the first thing both fans and the media will ask is why sign him then? Very few with the Rangers will say a negative thing about a Ranger prospect knowing that it will find it's way to the eyes of Ranger fans.
The Rangers are many things but they are not dumb enough to give Ranger fans more ammo to trash a management team that has a track record of more bad prospects than good ones. As it is whichever decisions they make about players like Redden and Zherdev is going to provide fodder as it is.
The off-season is about selling Ranger fans hope for next year; it is about being positive so fans will keep spending their money (they will anyway but this way makes the pain easier to accept)
Take the signing of Michael Del Zotto as a great example; of course the Rangers are going to say right after signing him that they expect him to compete for a job at training camp. Del Zotto and the 700 others that get invited to training camp (thanks for the idea Ray C) are going to compete for jobs but not all will be with the Rangers.
Look signing Del Zotto was nothing more than a traditional move that the Rangers make at this time of the year nothing more. Under Sather the Rangers have waited until the year after selecting their first rounder to sign him.
There is nothing big about the signings because the CBA basically dictates how much and how long the first entry level contract is supposed to be for. It is a feel good move that helps both sides while giving the fans something to talk about.
If the Rangers would have signed Del Zotto say last July then that would have been big news since they just do not do that. Instead of trying to read deep into this just accept that this is standard business for the Rangers nothing more.
The signing allows Del Zotto to focus himself now on the next season, he does not have to worry if he is going to be signed or not. He can now go out play hockey, work on the areas that he needs improvement on in order to become a Ranger and most importantly enjoy what is expected to be his final season in the OHL.
To see those with the Rangers saying that Del Zotto has a shot at making the team out of next training camp is not fair to the Ranger fans because Del Zotto still needs a lot of work. Yes Del Zotto is a real special talent on offense but you have to also be able to play defense too.
Unless Del Zotto makes some very major improvements to his defensive side then he will be wearing the number 4 for the London Knights next season. It is not a failure on anyone's part but rather a sound decision with regards to Del Zotto's development.
DZ is just 19 so the Rangers are not going to want to start the clock on his free agency until they are 100% sure he would be able to handle the NHL. Before people start the "Staal made the direct jump to the Rangers" stuff we need to point out some key differences.
When Staal made the jump from the OHL to the Rangers it was because he was NHL ready in the first place. Staal had extensive international experience, experience at Hartford and more important of them all; 2 training camps with the Rangers.
Staal made the Rangers after carrying a 6th seeded Sudbury team on his back to an OHL final, he was both the physical and emotional leader of that team. Del Zotto has not done any of those things in the OHL.
Del Zotto only has the one camp as well this upcoming one under his belt. Sending him back to London where he can develop under Dale Hunter would pay major dividends. Again Del Zotto is only 19 so why rush him to the Rangers?
The answer from a Ranger point of view is to appease angry fans who watched Wade Redden be a walking disaster last season. As much as Redden needs to go it should not be at the expense of Del Zotto's development.
Let Del Zotto go back to London and give him a chance to fine tune his game; let him have a chance to make Team Canada and win a gold medal. Let him get as much experience playing in pressure games like the World Under-20 Championships as well as the OHL playoffs.
Sending him back to London where there will be a very good core of a team will allow Del Zotto to step out and away from the shadows of others. There is no question that Del Zotto is one of the best defenseman in the OHL but because he has been in the shadow of others; Del Zotto has played second fiddle.
Let Del Zotto spread his wings so to speak; let him become the leader for the younger London players as giving him more responsibility will help his maturing process. Yes Del Zotto is coming to the Rangers but it will not hurt if it does not happen until 2010.
There are also a couple more factors to take into account why to keep Del Zotto in the OHL for another season. The Rangers we expect will once again try to spend their way back into playoff contention by adding more free agents.
If they were rebuilding then sure let Del Zotto get his NHL experience in but rebuilding is just a fantasy that will not happen until the Rangers totally collaspe.
Second is Matt Gilroy as the Rangers are not looking to pay him 2 way money to play in Hartford when he is on a 2 year deal. Gilroy is older, more mature physically but also closer to being NHL ready.
Gilroy is going to be expected to compete for a job with the Rangers this training camp. The Rangers it is just about impossible to think that they would be willing to go with any more than 2 rookies on the blueline. With Michael Sauer, Corey Potter and 2006 First Round Pick Bobby Sanguinetti all competing for a roster spot then Del Zotto is just about a given to be sent back to the OHL.
Speaking of Sanguinetti it seems that the Rangers and their fans are writing him off before he has even gotten to wear a Ranger uniform. Friendly advice but just like those who said Dubinsky and Callahan would never be Rangers they were wrong then as they will be here.
Sanguinetti was born a Ranger fan, he wants nothing more than to earn that Ranger uniform and play in front of friends and family. We know Sanguinetti from his OHL days and when it is all said and done, Sanguinetti is going to prove the critics wrong.
Right now it is a good bet that Bobby Sanguinetti is working his butt off trying to make his dream come true and we have learned never to bet against him.
Del Zotto we will see wearing Broadway Blue soon enough but for now let him develop and become a better player.
(Del Zotto courtesy of Getty Images)