Del Zotto has missed the team’s last four games with a wrist injury and is now projected to require surgery to repair ligament damage in his wrist. The recovery timeline is projected to be three-to-four months.
The 25-year-old defender spent the last few seasons bouncing between teams. He wasn’t living up to lofty expectations following a 20th overall selection by the New York Rangers in the 2008 draft. But he has started to show signs of being a solid top-four defenseman this season. Losing him will make it difficult for the Flyers to put together the kind of run they would need to make the postseason.
Projected to be a very offensive-minded defenseman, Del Zotto has looked comfortable in Philadelphia with less pressure to be that guy. He’s been able to play a well-rounded game and allow others to take the mantle of the puck-moving power play pilot type of d-man. In particular, rookie Shayne Gostisbehere has been able to take on that role quite handily.
So while his points are down, Del Zotto’s 3.23% CF%Rel ranks third among team defensemen, he’s logging the most minutes by a defender on the team and he’s started to play a significant role as a penalty killer.
The Flyers are in a position where they could make a push for the postseason, but the Del Zotto injury may be a tipping point, as they have only one week until the trade deadline and have four UFAs on expiring contracts, including Michael Raffl, Evgeny Medvedev and Sam Gagner.
Featured photo by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers.