Del Zotto on waiting for new contract: 'Season is two months away, there’s no rush yet'

by Jul 23, 11:22 PM

As the list of available free agents continues to dwindle, 24-year-old defenseman Michael Del Zotto remains without a new contract with an NHL club. While he appears somewhat frustrated with the lack of progress, he realizes there's plenty of time to find a new hockey home after the initial signing frenzy.

“Sure it’s a bit of a slow process. But it’s part of the business,” the former Nashville Predators and New York Rangers defenceman told the Stoufville Sun-Tribune. “The NHL season is still two months away and there’s no rush yet.”

Del Zotto also acknowledges he's responsible for being in this somewhat undesirable situation: “It definitely wasn’t the year that I wanted. But it's part of the game. It was unfortunate. Right now I just want to move forward. I’ve been training hard, skating and trying to prepare myself mentally and physically.”

After recording only three goals and 13 assists in 67 games last season, Del Zotto's value is most certainly at an all-time low. But there's always a market for young, mobile defenseman in today's NHL, meaning he's likely to sign somewhere soon.

Aug 8, 8:55 AM

Flyers GM Hextall: 'This summer has been a shocking experience' for Del Zotto

by Aug 8, 8:55 AM

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was interviewed on TSN 1050 on Thursday afternoon, during which he addressed the recent addition of Michael Del Zotto.

Hextall sees Del Zotto as a good fit for the Flyers and said he was surprised the defenseman was still available when it became apparent that the club needed to address the absence of defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who will be out of the lineup for an indefinite period of time:

I think he’s got a lot of attributes that a lot of people look for. We were certainly one of those teams that we’ve kind of looked at him from the start there. A little surprised he was out there on the market, and quite honestly surprised that someone didn’t step up sooner.

Hextall also believes Del Zotto's prolonged stay on the free-agent market will serve as a motivator for the 24-year-old:

I talked to him [Wednesday], he seems to understand that last year wasn’t a good year for him and he needs to bounce back. But he’s played some good hockey in this game and I think sometimes we all forget how young the kid is and, for Michael, everything came pretty easy for him and he’s living in New York City and he’s playing in the NHL and he’s making money. I think somehow from the outside he probably did like the rest of us did or would in his situation and got a little bit distracted. I think this summer has been a shocking experience for him. We look forward to big things from him. He’s got a lot of ability, he’s a great skater and I think he’s going to be a real good fit for us.

Del Zotto recorded 126 points (27 goals, 99 assists) in five seasons since entering the NHL, the bulk of which came in his first three seasons with the New York Rangers, who drafted him 20th overall in 2008. The one-year, $1.3-million deal in Philadelphia serves as a bit of a reboot on his career and he certainly appears to have the confidence of his new general manager.

Feature photo courtesy of Kevin Hoffman / USA TODAY Sports

Aug 6, 3:22 PM

Del Zotto signs 1-year contract with Flyers: Motivated to 'prove everyone wrong'

by Aug 6, 3:22 PM

The New York Rangers and Nashville Predators passed on giving Michael Del Zotto any more chances to help his game, but the Philadelphia Flyers signed him as a free agent Tuesday.

The young defenseman has been up and down in terms of production on the ice and saw his ice time dwindle as the season went on last year.

He's thankful for the opportunity and, during a conference call, reassured the media he's ready to take his game to the next level.

"I took two weeks off, started training right away last season [and it] didn't go as well as I liked. It was a bit of a humbling season and this off-season's been the most motivated I've ever been to get back and prove everyone wrong."

Del Zotto knows the Flyers need help on the blue-line, but he won't be given the spot due to the absence of Kimmo Timonen. He'll have to earn it in training camp.

"Nothing is given. Everything is earned. You need to earn every minute of ice [time] and improve yourself every single day," he said.

Del Zotto was asked where he fits in with the team and he seemed to know exactly where he thinks he belongs.

"I think that's where I can step in and move that puck up to those forwards that can make plays. Being able to join the rush and help out offensively, it's a very deep team. I'm just happy to be another piece of the puzzle."

The Flyers' one-year, $1.3-million contract with Del Zotto might turn out to be a steal if he does turn his game around.

Aug 5, 7:24 PM

Flyers sign Michael Del Zotto to a 1-year contract

by Aug 5, 7:24 PM

The Philadelphia Flyers have added depth to their defense, inking Michael Del Zotto to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $1.3-million.

Last season, Del Zotto notched three goals and 13 assists in 67 games with both the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators. In the 2011-12 season, the former first-round pick in the 2008 draft recorded 10 goals and 31 assists in 77 games.

The team learned Tuesday they would be without defenseman Kimmo Timonen indefinitely after he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and leg. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was quoted as saying 'I'd be surprised if he was in training camp'.

Aug 5, 6:56 PM

Report: 'Lots of interest' in UFA Michael Del Zotto, could sign with a club shortly

by Aug 5, 6:56 PM

Arguably the most high-profile player to not be tendered a qualifying offer this June, puck-moving defenseman Michael Del Zotto, 24, entered August without an NHL contract. That could change shortly though, according to a report from TSN's Darren Dreger:

Selected with the 20th overall pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Del Zotto notched 37 points in a promising campaign as a rookie, and followed up on that success with a 10 goal, 40 point season as a 22-year-old during the 2011-12 campaign. 

Del Zotto has the skill level to be a productive offensive presence on the back-end, and is young enough that he may have some room to improve as an NHL player going forward. That said, the underlying numbers would suggest that Del Zotto's two-way play is somewhat suspect - all four of the defenseman with whom Del Zotto has partnered with for at least 400 even-strength minutes did better by Corsi For percentage without Del Zotto, than they did alongside him.

Jul 18, 11:42 AM

Michael Del Zotto says he's waiting for the right opportunity to prove himself

by Jul 18, 11:42 AM

A rookie revelation just five years ago, Michael Del Zotto remains without an employer through mid-July. 

The 24-year-old unrestricted free agent failed to receive a qualifying offer from the Nashville Predators after being discarded by the New York Rangers last season. 

A point-a-game contributor in junior, Del Zotto is working on both his game and his mentality as he continues to angle for the right fit on the open market. 

"It’s a confidence game. So I'm just trying to get it back this summer," Del Zotto told Sportsnet's Luke Fox. "I know what I can do and can provide a team. I've done it in the past; I'm just trying to get there again."

Having had his offensive capabilities reduced to just 16 points last season, Del Zotto is eager to rediscover the aspect of his game that made him the 20th-overall pick in 2008.

"This summer is the hardest I've ever worked. I've shown I can play both ends of the ice," he said. "Obviously the strength of my game is the offensive side, so putting up numbers for me is going to be key. Just trying to find the best fit for me to come in and play my game."

Del Zotto admitted that he's been in conversation with "a bunch" of teams, but wouldn't reveal any specifics with regards to who he has negotiated with. 

Jun 30, 4:53 PM

Predators' Del Zotto will not receive qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent

by Jun 30, 4:53 PM

The Nashville Predators tried to move the rights to defenseman Michael Del Zotto right up until the last minute, but ultimately have decided not to extend the underachieving puck-moving defenseman a qualifying offer before Monday's 5 p.m. deadline per TSN's Bob McKenzie. Del Zotto will become an unrestricted free agent. 

It's quite the fall from grace for a power-play specialist who managed 37 points as teenager, and put together a 40-point season as a 20-year-old. Del Zotto's expensive qualifying offer (the Predators would have had to offer him the equivalent of a one-year, one-way $2.9-million contract to retain their right of first refusal) is likely the major reason Del Zotto was non-tendered. 

Though Del Zotto "didn't fit" with the Predators, the 24-year-old is sure to prove an intriguing reclamation project for a team in need of some additional speed on the back-end. 

Jun 29, 6:32 PM

General manager David Poile: Del Zotto 'not a fit' with Predators

by Jun 29, 6:32 PM

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile offered a blunt assessment of why the team is not offering a qualifying offer to restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Nashville is reportedly exploring all options aside from committing $2.9 million in a qualifying offer. Without an offer, the 24-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and it seems likely a team will offer him a deal worth significantly less than his qualifying sum.

Jun 28, 2:31 PM

Report: Predators attempting to trade Michael Del Zotto

by Jun 28, 2:31 PM

The Nashville Predators are trying to trade former New York Rangers power-play ace Michael Del Zotto, according to a report from TVA's Renaud Lavoie.

Del Zotto's stock has fallen enormously over the past few years and it appears that he might be a non-tender candidate this week. If Del Zotto doesn't receive a $2.9 million qualifying offer from the Predators by June 30, he'll hit the unrestricted free agent market. If the Predators don't value Del Zotto as a top-four defender, which seems likely at this point, then that $2.9 million minimum price tag is prohibitive.

So it makes sense that the Predators would be shopping the underachieving Del Zotto and it also makes sense that there isn't much of a market for his services. After all, it seems likely that clubs will be able to offer Del Zotto a contract for significantly less than $2.9 million next week.