26-Year-Old Defenseman – Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $7.75 million contract extension with the Flyers in July 2015.
Del Zotto picked up a goal and an assist in Thursday's 6-2 loss to the Devils.
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Michael Del Zotto: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Cast off by the Rangers and then the Predators, Del Zotto landed in Philadelphia with a one-year contract and minimal expectations, and it seems that was just the ticket to revive his career. The 24-year-old delivered a campaign nearly as strong as his 2011-12 "career year," tallying 10 goals and dishing out 22 assists in 64 games, and he blocked an easily career-high 128 shots. Perhaps not coincidentally, injury-shortened campaigns are nothing new to Del Zotto, who seems to find a way to get banged up and miss time just about every year. Nonetheless, he returns as a top-pairing defenseman for the Flyers -- now the question is whether he'll be able to flourish under the weight of expectations this time.
This 24-year old puck-moving defenseman is looking to Philly to regain his swagger and prove his critics wrong. After a pair of bad seasons split between Nashville and New York, MDZ became a free agent when Nashville decided it wouldn't tender him a contract. Then his ego took a hit when he sat on the market until August, when the Flyers got desperate enough to sign him following news of Kimmo Timonen's blood clots. He has talent -- there's no doubt about it. After all, his star was on the rise when he recorded a career-best 41 points in 77 games on Broadway just three seasons ago and was widely regarded as a can't-miss offensive-minded rearguard. He still has a ton of potential in the opponent's end of the ice, but is often a defensive liability in his own end. He could be very valuable if he gets paired with a defensive stalwart like Luke Schenn or Braydon Coburn, and is able to pick up a fair share of Kimmo Timonen's void. Otherwise, he'll just end up hurting your plus-minus in a fairly serious way. Be aware of what you're getting with MDZ. #riskreward
It's no surprise Del Zotto was a streaky contributor from the blue line last season, lockout shortened or not. After opening the campaign with two goals and four assists in his first five games, MDZ cooled off, totaling three goals and 18 assists in the remaining 39 regular season games. Entering his fourth NHL season and coming off sports hernia surgery, the former first round pick (2008) is likely a second line defensemen for a very deep Rangers defensive unit. Del Zotto is still fairly high on most draft boards and will likely be chosen in the mid-rounds of your draft.
Del Zotto had a major breakout season in 2011-12 in posting career-highs of 10 goals and 31 assists to go along with a fantastic plus-20 rating. The 22-year-old blueliner also increased his average time on ice, 22:26, by a full three minutes above his previous career numbers skating alongside Anton Stralman. Del Zotto has been labeled as an inconsistent player in his three-year career, but he won't be the value this season that he was last year. His poor plus-minus rating and inconsistencies scared owners away, but those looking to get Del Zotto this season will have to be prepared to spend a higher round pick on him, especially in keeper leagues.
In a season that saw plenty of young Ranger players taking good steps forward in their deveolpment, Del Zotto was one of the few to actually regress. After an impressive 37-point rookie campaign, Del Zotto had problems with his breakout passes and getting shots to the net last year. This led to his demotion halfway through the season, and he ended the year with a broken finger and sports hernia. Fortunately, Del Zotto said and did all the right things since his demotion, so the Rangers still have high hopes for him. The 21-year-old could be a late-round sleeper pick as he has power-play quarterback written all over him, just don't expect miracles.
Del Zotto was one of the few bright spots for the Rangers last season. He led all defensemen on the team with nine goals, four power-play markers and 37 points. Not only was Del Zotto productive for the Rangers, but he also finished second among all NHL rookie defensemen in points (only Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers had more). However, one glaring error in Del Zotto’s game was his defensive awareness – he was a team-worst minus-20. If MDZ wants to take his game to the next level this season, he’ll have to improve his defense. On the plus side, the former first-round draft pick will continue to run the Rangers’ top power play unit, where he posted 22 of his 37 points. Del Zotto has a bright future ahead of him and if he continues to utilize his great on-ice vision, he could put up close to 50 points.
Del Zotto has another year of junior eligibility remaining, so the Rangers aren't likely to rush him through the system and onto their roster. He'll get a look at camp, but the best bet is to see him with the team in a year or two. There's still a lot of room for growth for the 19-year-old, but he has the skill set to be a contributor eventually. Just don't expect to see him in New York during the 2009-10 campaign.
Had 18 goals and 71 points for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. Great stats, but Del Zotto is still at least two years away from playing in the NHL. He could however be promoted to the AHL for this season.