The Canucks appear to have the inside track on signing free agent defenceman Michael Del Zotto.
Been told, as of right now, the #Canucks are the leading candidates to land free agent UFA D Michael Del Zotto.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 30, 2017
News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal, who has been seemingly breaking every Canucks story lately, reported that “good talks” were held between the Canucks and Del Zotto.
Del Zotto, who has appeared 484 NHL games, played for the Philadelphia Flyers for the past three seasons.
All NHL teams can begin signing unrestricted free agents on July 1 at 9 am PT.
With Luca Sbisa being plucked from the Canucks in the expansion draft, Vancouver is in need of another veteran blueliner. They have just six NHL defencemen under contract next season, although Alex Biega could end up in the minors and Olli Juolevi could earn a spot.
Like Sbisa, Del Zotto is a left-shot, but that’s where the similarities end. Del Zotto has more offence to his game, as evidenced by 32 points (including 10 goals) in 64 games in 2014-15. He averaged 19:30 of ice time last season, which was down significantly from the 23:25 he averaged the season prior.
Looking at analytics, Del Zotto performed well, ranking fourth among Flyers defencemen in Corsi-for percentage (51.2%).
The native of Stouffville, Ontario can play the power play and penalty kill, and would be an upgrade on Vancouver’s defence. The question, as always with potential UFAs, is the cost.
The Canucks have cap space, but as a rebuilding team, they need to be mindful of latching on to long term contracts. Another Loui Eriksson six-year albatross is not the way to go.
Del Zotto is coming off a two-year contract that carried a $3.875 million cap hit. A one or even a two-year deal (given his age) could make sense for Vancouver, provided that the money is manageable.
If GM Jim Benning follows the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuilding playbook, he’ll look to sign free agents to one-year contracts and flip them at the trade deadline for draft picks. It’s a savvy strategy, because it’s a way to buy draft picks.
Other players the Canucks are said to be interested in to date include: