The Rangers announced this afternoon they have signed their first-round pick from the 2008 draft, defenseman Michael Del Zotto, to a contract.
Despite the contract, Del Zotto will return to juniors next season if he does not make the Rangers in training camp.
The text from the Rangers press release is below.
New York Rangers President and
General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms
with defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
Del Zotto, 18, skated in 62 games with the Oshawa Generals and London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season, registering 13 goals and 50 assists for 63 points, along with 78 penalty minutes. The two-time OHL All-Star finished the season ranked sixth among all OHL defensemen in scoring and assists, while his 50 assists tied for 11th in the league overall. He also ranked fifth in the league with 32 power play assists. Del Zotto recorded the sixth longest assist streak in the OHL this season, registering an assist in seven straight contests from February 1 at Ottawa to February 16 at Guelph (nine assists). In addition, he posted 14 multi-point games, including five, three-point efforts. In the postseason with London, Del Zotto led the team with 16 assists and tied for fourth on the Knights with 19 points in 14 games. His 16 assists ranked second among all OHL defensemen in the playoffs, while his 19 points finished third among league blueliners.
The 6-0, 195-pound defenseman has skated in 190 career OHL games with Oshawa and London, collecting 39 goals and 144 assists for 183 points, along with 238 penalty minutes. Last season, Del Zotto tied for third among all OHL defensemen in scoring with 63 points and ranked fourth with a career-high, 16 goals. He also tied for fifth in the league overall with five shorthanded goals. The second overall pick in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, Del Zotto was twice named OHL Defensemen of the Month – November 2006 and December 2007.
The native of Stouffville, Ontario was the Rangers’ first round choice, 20th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The selection marked the third time in four years the Rangers have chosen a defenseman in the first round, having drafted Marc Staal with the 12th overall pick in 2005 and Bobby Sanguinetti with the 21st overall pick in 2006.