The Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Michael Del Zotto have avoided going to an arbitration hearing. The two parties agreed on a multi-year deal, reportedly worth $7.5 million with a cap hit of $3.875 million for the next two seasons.
Del Zotto signed with the Flyers as an unrestricted free agent last summer after the team received the news that defenseman Kimmo Timonen would miss most of the season due to blood clots. He signed a one year deal worth $1.3 million and proved that he could bounce back after a rough season. He started the 2013-14 season with the New York Rangers and was traded to the Nashville Predators. He only played in 67 total games during the 2013-14 season. The defenseman only registered three goals, 13 assists, 16 points and was a minus nine. He also wasn’t playing on special teams for the Predators.
In 64 games played last season, Del Zotto scored 10 goals, had 22 assists, 32 total points and was a minus five. The 10 goals led all Flyers defensemen and the 32 points came in second among Flyers defensemen behind Mark Streit’s 52. He played in all situations for the Flyers including the power play and penalty kill.
He set a career high in game-winning goals (4) and shots on goal (119). The 32 points were also the most Del Zotto had since the 2011-12 season when he was with the Rangers.
Del Zotto can skate and move the puck up the ice. He did a decent job of quarterbacking the second power play unit for the Flyers last season. He is especially good in the offensive zone and can put up some numbers. The defenseman scored a lot of his goals while joining the rush last season, which made him like a fourth forward on the ice. He isn’t afraid to block shots since he had 128 last season.
He was benched last season for a stretch because he was getting into trouble. Del Zotto was turning the puck over and trying to lead the rush, which would have him out of position in the defensive zone. He also needs to limit his mistakes in both the defensive and neutral zones. He tends to be out of position from time to time which can hurt his team. He is an offensive defenseman that at times can be caught out of position defensively.
Del Zotto joins a crowded Flyers blue line. The team currently has eight defensemen under contract for the upcoming season. He will join Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Yevgeni Medvedev, Nick Schultz, Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning. The Flyers have nearly $25 million of the $71.4 million salary cap wrapped up in its mediocre defensive crops.
In the meantime, the Flyers defensive prospects can take at least the next two years to develop in the minors or with their junior clubs.