Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Flyers work quickly to bring in Del Zotto

The Philadelphia Flyers moved quickly to replace Kimmo Timonen on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto on a one-year contract.

Reports state it's worth $1.3 million.

Timonen was revealed earlier in the day to be dealing with multiple blood clots, a situation which puts his final NHL season in jeopardy before it begins. The need to bring in a veteran presence immediately led Ron Hextall to Del Zotto, who by and large went through the motions this season while suiting up for the Rangers and Predators.

Hextall has performed admirably in the three months since he was elevated to the GM post, handling the myriad curveballs thrown his way with sensible action. 

Never a favorite of former Blueshirts coach John Tortorella who found disfavor with new head coach Alain Vigneault, Del Zotto was dealt from New York to Nashville on January 22 in a straight-up swap for Kevin Kline

The Preds decided not to give Del Zotto, a restricted free agent at the end of last season, a qualifying offer by the June 30 deadline, and so the 24-year-old former first-round pick was free to sign with anyone who displayed interest.

If not for the Flyers' emergency situation, Del Zotto might have been waiting until training camp to receive an invite. There is a clear sentiment that he is in the "reclamation" phase of his career, despite having only played five NHL seasons. At this point, it would be unwise to predict how he fits into Craig Berube's defensive system, but I can trust that a fresh set of eyes in Hextall is on the correct track.

Over 67 regular-season games for two clubs in 2013-14, Del Zotto finished with three goals and 16 points. Since breaking into the NHL during the 2009-10 season, the native of the northern Toronto suburbs has compiled 27 goals and 99 assists over 317 appearances. He's added three goals and nine helpers over 32 postseason contests for the Rangers in 2012 and '13.

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