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 USA TODAY Sports/Kevin Hoffman