The Flyers are looking for answers on their blue line.
The city of Philadelphia was caught by surprise earlier this week when it was announced Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen was undergoing treatment in a hospital in Finland for bloods clots in his lower right leg and both of his lungs. The 39-year-old re-signed in Philadelphia for one year to try to make a run at the elusive Stanley Cup.
With his current health status, it does not appear that Timonen will be on the ice any time soon.
With Timonen sidelined indefinitely, the Flyers were suddenly left with a gaping hole on their backend. General manager Ron Hextall announced the team has filled that hole signing former-Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year deal that TSN reports is worth $1.3 million.
Del Zotto, 24, spent last season split between the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers scoring three goals and adding 13 assists for 16 points in 67 games. The 6’0”, 195 lbs. defenseman has been known for his puck-moving abilities since he entered the league in 2009-10. In his rookie season in 2009-10, Del Zotto scored nine goals and dished out 28 assists for 37 points in 80 games as a 19-year-old.
After injuries cut his 2010-11 season short, Del Zotto really looked to be emerging as an offensive force on the Rangers blue line scoring 10 goals and adding 31 assists for 41 points in 77 games. The performance land Del Zotto in 12th place in the Norris Trophy voting.
Unfortunately, Del Zotto’s play deteriorated over the last two seasons. He struggled in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season scoring just three goals and adding 18 assists for 21 points in 46 games. Turnovers in his own zone seemed to be the real issue for Del Zotto and those issues carried over into 2013-14. New York soured on the once promising defenseman in January and shipped him off to Nashville. His play rebounded at the end of last season but not enough to warrant a contract offer.
Del Zotto made $2.55 million last season so signing him for one year at $1.3 million is definitely a low risk deal for a former-promising player who just turned 24 in June. This could be the perfect situation for Del Zotto to prove he can be a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL and it is a potential low-risk, high-reward signing. According to CapGeek.com, Del Zotto will still be a restricted free agent after this season which is another benefit for Philadelphia.