The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a two-year contract worth $3 million per year, as reported by TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 1, 2017
Del Zotto, a left-shooting defenseman who just turned 27, appeared in 51 games for the Philadelphia Flyers last season. He tallied 18 points (six goals and 12 assists) and had a minus-5 rating while battling injuries over the course of the year. Despite those underwhelming numbers, the blueliner was solid from a possession standpoint. He had a five-on-five Corsi-for percentage of 51.2 thanks in large part to his puck-moving abilities.
Del Zotto broke into the NHL as a well-regarded 19-year-old with the New York Rangers in the 2009-10 season. The Rangers had selected him in the first round (20th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He turned some heads in his rookie season when he compiled 37 points (nine goals and 28 assists) in 80 games.
Two years later, Del Zotto enjoyed his finest campaign to date. He potted 10 goals and added 31 assists for a total 0f 41 points from the back end. His plus-20 rating also spoke to his improved all-around game as he helped the Rangers finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, and it was Del Zotto’s third-period goal in Game 7 of the team’s second-round series against the Washington Capitals that held up to be the series-winner.
Eventually, though, Del Zotto had some struggles resurface in New York, and he fell out of favor with new head coach Alain Vigneault in 2013-14. He was traded to the Nashville Predators for Kevin Klein that season. After 25 unmemorable games with the Predators, Del Zotto signed with the Flyers after Nashville did not tender him a qualifying offer.
With the Flyers, Del Zotto experienced somewhat of a resurgence. In his first season with the club (2014-15), Del Zotto’s offensive talents re-emerged, as he tallied 10 goals and 22 assists in 64 games. Eight of his points came on the power play.
Over the last two seasons, Del Zotto has battled injuries and has fallen a bit on the Flyers’ depth chart. Now with the Canucks, Del Zotto is looking to rediscover his best hockey.
Del Zotto’s Role With Canucks
Del Zotto joins a team in Vancouver that has a lot of holes. The club’s 69 standings points were the second-fewest in the league, ahead of only the Colorado Avalanche’s 48 points. With a young blue line besides veterans Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev (who might or might not remain with the club long-term), Del Zotto figures to get meaningful minutes.
A good chunk of those minutes should come on the power play. The Canucks were the second-worst team in the NHL on the power play last season (again ahead of only the Avalanche) with a paltry 14.1 percent success rate. Del Zotto’s offensive abilities should help in that area.
Del Zotto also brings a bit of an edge to his game that will add a nice element to Vancouver’s defense. While experienced, he is still just 27, so he can help guide some of the Canucks’ younger players while relating to them as a relatively young player himself. More tangibly, the Canucks now have a player who could very well rediscover his game and be an effective defenseman once again.