After being bought out on Tuesday, veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto has found a new landing spot. The Florida Panthers have announced that they have signed Del Zotto to a one-year, two-way contract. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Del Zotto is the latest former Ottawa Senator to head to the Sunshine State, joining recent Panthers signings Colin White, Chris Tierney, and Rudolfs Balcers.
Del Zotto, 32, is a veteran of over 700 NHL games, and he is now on the ninth team of his NHL career. Del Zotto split time between the NHL and AHL levels in 2021-22, finding great success at the AHL level with the Belleville Senators while struggling to live up to his $2MM cap hit in Ottawa. Del Zotto had 27 points in 26 games in Belleville and 13 points in 26 games in Ottawa.
Del Zotto’s calling card has always been his ability to move the puck, and that’s what he’s being signed by Florida in order to provide. As it’s a two-way deal, Del Zotto will likely see time in both the AHL and NHL next season, although he could be a top-priority injury fill-in should one of the more talented Panthers defenders get injured.
As a cheap depth signing, Del Zotto is a wise add for a team that wants to improve on last season’s campaign, a year that resulted in both a President’s Trophy as well as a mightily disappointing second-round exit. Del Zotto will compete for opportunities against Marc Staal, Lucas Carlsson, and Anthony Bitetto, among others.