The start to this season hasn’t been a great one for Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. He suffered a knee injury in training camp that caused him to miss the first month of the season and since then, he has been a healthy scratch on several occasions with head coach Dave Hakstol looking for a better compete level. Despite that, he still feels good about his play, writes Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post.
Through 19 games this season, the 26 year old has four goals and five assists which is pretty good production for a blueliner. However, his ice time has been scaled back significantly as he is playing 18 minutes a night compared to 23:25 last season.
Being sat down while having your minutes cut is hardly a desirable spot for anyone to be in but the timing is particularly poor for Del Zotto, a pending unrestricted free agent in a market that isn’t all that strong when it comes to defensemen. He told Isaac that his UFA status isn’t in his mind at the moment:
“I know I can contribute offensively and I’ve proven over the last couple of years that I can be a No. 1 defender and I have the ability to shut the other team’s top lines down. I think at this point whatever happens, happens. It is a business. I’m not too worried about it. I’m comfortable with my game. I know I can contribute and help the team win every night.”
While free agency may not be something Del Zotto is currently concerned with, he has to realize that a strong second half of the season would go a lot way towards cementing himself as one of the top free agent blueliners available. Between that and being sat down at times, he’ll have plenty of motivation the rest of the way.
More news from Philadelphia:
- Del Zotto is far from the only blueliner to make an impact offensively this season. Mark Streit, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Ivan Provorov are all in the top-35 league-wide for points by a defender, a byproduct of Hakstol’s request to have the back end get more involved at the offensive end, writes Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The decision to have them take more chances offensively certainly has worked so far as the Flyers lead the league in points by defensemen.
- Left winger Michael Raffl is set to miss the next one-to-two weeks with a lower body injury that’s believed to be a knee sprain, notes CSN Philly’s Jordan Hall. This is the second time this season that the 28 year Austrian will be on the shelf as he also missed eight games with an abdominal injury sustained in mid-October. In 27 games this season, he has seven goals and two assists and has frequently been up and down the lineup.