Another PTO has resulted in a contract for the coming season. Veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto, in camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets on a tryout basis, is now under contract, the team announced. It is a one-year, two-way contract for Del Zotto, who is set to play a depth role for Columbus. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline adds that the deal carries the minimum $700K NHL salary and a $400K AHL salary.
As Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen states in the team’s release, “the blue line is a real strength for our team, but you can never have enough good defensemen.” Although Columbus appears set with their top six, the off-season departures of Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara clearly left the team wanting to recoup some of their depth. Del Zotto will likely compete for a roster spot with the likes of Andrew Peeke (who is waiver-exempt), Gavin Bayreuther, Gabriel Carlsson, and Adam Clendening. If Del Zotto does not crack the 23-man group, he is an ideal candidate for the Blue Jackets’ taxi squad.
Del Zotto, who previously played under Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella when the pair were with the New York Rangers, is entering his 12th NHL season and officially joining his seventh NHL team. A short-term hired gun for much of his career, Del Zotto is set to play the same role in Columbus. Although he no longer plays with the same offensive prowess he displayed early in his career, Del Zotto is still a solid two-way option who can skate and check. Del Zotto led the Anaheim Ducks in plus/minus last season and finished third among Ducks defensemen in scoring, showing that he is still capable of playing significant minutes and making a positive impact. The 30-year-old should have no problem stepping into the Blue Jackets’ starting lineup if called upon and could be an asset on the power play in a pinch as well. Del Zotto should work out nicely as a depth option for Columbus in 2020-21.