[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
Right behind the Voracek and Couturier signings, Michael Del Zotto is the third biggest resigning of this offseason.
Hextall finally came to terms with Del Zotto on a two-year, $7.75 million contract after months of negotiating with the Del Zotto camp. And they avoided arbitration. This is an important fact that might be overlooked. With the current market for defensemen who can move the puck, and what those defensemen make salary wise, Del Zotto could’ve been in line for more money than Hextall offered.
It was rumored that Del Zotto was looking for a longer deal but I think the two years hits right in the sweet spot. Yes, Del Zotto is young. And, yes, he can move the puck. And, yes, while he’s moving the puck he can score. But he only put his talents on display for the last half of the season. Now, is it Berube’s fault he wasn’t playing him? Or was Del Zotto not earning his playing time for the first half of the season? We’ll probably never know the true answer. And saying that Del Zotto was the best defenseman on the Flyers post all-star break last year isn’t saying much. With the loss of TImonen, and eventually Coburn, the Flyers were scrambling to find suitable replacements (although Schultz did slot in nicely).
So, where does the two-year contract leave the Flyers? If Del Zotto continues where he left off, his offense should spark the power play and they’ll have a choice between Streit and Del Zotto when they need a quarterback on the power play. The Flyers get a defenseman who can skate, score, and have the wherewithal to shoot on the powerplay. If he puts up solid offense for the next two years, Hextall will have snuck in under market value (most likely, because who knows what defensemen will be worth by next year?) and locked up a solid guy that can bring some experience to the new crop of rookies.
And if he stinks it up then there’s little to no downside. His contract runs its course and the Flyers and him part amicably.
I’m sure it’s what Hextall would prefer to do with the likes of Vinny Lecavalier and Andy MacDonald right now.
** Contract terms pulled from http://www.phillyvoice.com/flyers-ink-defenseman-michael-del-zotto-extension/