We discussed the potential of signing Del Zotto in a post just a few hours ago, and here's basically what we settled on:
MDZ had a rough year last season and just didn't fit in with the Predators after the trade. He was a third-pairing defenseman at best in Nashville, and while he fit in the same with the Rangers at even strength, he at least had a power play role there. He's just two years removed from being a second-pairing defenseman in New York, though, and his rookie season with the Rangers was quite good.
He's fallen off since, as the stats show, and there's no telling if he'll ever get back his early career form or if he'll ever become anything more than a third pairing depth defenseman in the NHL, but he could be a really cheap bet.
MDZ earned $2.55 million against the cap on his last deal, signed with the Rangers two years ago. The $1.3 million is considerably less because he didn't get any other offers from NHL teams in free agency. He's just 24 years old.
Teams didn't want to take a chance on a defenseman who has certainly been declining in recent years after a breakout rookie campaign in 2009-10. The Flyers didn't take a chance on him either back in early July, but now that Kimmo Timonen's status for the upcoming season is up in the air, and the Flyers don't plan to use any of their young prospect defensemen in the NHL this year, MDZ is a pretty okay back up plan.
That's not to say he's going to be good. Not by any stretch. But he's shown in the past that he can play and that he can be a capable top-four defenseman, and given the Flyers current situation on D -- Kimmo being hurt or otherwise -- taking a chance on this guy isn't really the worst thing in the world. As we said earlier, it is low-risk, hopefully high-reward.
At worst, he's awful and he doesn't play. At best, the Flyers put him in a position to succeed and he takes full advantage, surprising us and the rest of the league by regaining some of that promise he had earlier in his career.