Rangers prospect Michael Del Zotto
has a new home in the Ontario Hockey League after being involved in one of the biggest trades in major-junior hockey history on Thursday.
Del Zotto, a defenseman selected by the Blueshirts in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is going from the Oshawa Generals to the powerhouse London Knights as part of a deal involving six players and six draft picks.
The key player in the deal is Del Zotto's teammate, John Tavares, a strong candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Tavares, Del Zotto and backup goaltender Daryl Borden were dealt to the Knights to help Oshawa build for its future. The Generals received three players, including the son of former NHL star Steve Thomas, and a total of six picks in the deal.
In joining London, Del Zotto now has a great chance to become the first Rangers draft pick to win a Memorial Cup as a Canadian major-junior draft pick since Christian Dube did it with Hull in 1997. Current Blueshirts defenseman Dan Girardi
won the Memorial Cup with London in 2005, but he was an undrafted free agent who wasn't on the Rangers reserve list at that time. Nigel Dawes also won the Memorial Cup with Kootenay in 2002, but he was not drafted until the following year.
Del Zotto leaves a team that was third in its five-team division for a division leader with the second-best record in the league. At 30-8-1, the Knights are considered a top contender for their second Memorial Cup title under head coach Dale Hunter, who had a standout NHL career with Quebec, Washington and Colorado. The addition of Tavares and Del Zotto is likely to make them the overnight consensus favorite for this year's OHL championship.