A change of scenery may be just what Michael Del Zotto
needs to regain his confidence. (David Hahn/Icon SMI)
By Allan Muir
Well, now we know why it took so long for the Rangers to move disaffected defenseman Michael Del Zotto: There was no market for him.
It's hard to take away anything else from today's deal that sent the former first rounder to the Predators for nothing more than a depth defender such as rapid-fire artist Kevin Klein.
As much of a beauty as he was in that tilt, Klein hasn't been particularly effective this season for Nashville. The 29-year old is a limited defensive player whose stats, both standard (one goal, three points) and fancy (44 percent Corsi, -4.4 percent relative Corsi), don't paint a very pretty picture.
What might have made Klein appealing to New York is that he is locked down. He's signed through 2018 at a cap hit of $2.9 million per season, which gives GM Glen Sather some cost certainty moving forward. That's not much value here, though, and Klein is clearly a significant downgrade from what Sather originally hoped to get in return.
As for Del Zotto, he doesn't have ideal size, but he's a terrific skater whose bread and butter has always been his offensive skills. He's a lefty, too, which has been a pressing blueline need for the Predators.
Del Zotto's been a disaster in his own zone for a while now, and the toll it took on his confidence was apparent. His mistakes tended to snowball, and games quickly got away from him. But he clearly has some offensive upside. If he can move the puck efficiently in five-on-five situations, he could be a good addition for a team that's saddled with the NHL's 24th-best offense. He's a long way from the player who chipped in 41 points in 78 games back in 2011-12, but whether he regains that form or not, this deal still has the look of a win for Nashville GM David Poile.
Del Zotto, after all, is an RFA this summer and can be sent packing if things don't work out. No muss, no fuss, no mess.
And that might be the real key to this deal. For the second time in a week, Poile has rid himself of a long-term commitment to a player who wasn't part of the team's future plans. Critics who questioned what Poile was thinking when he handed out that five-year, $14.5 million deal to a depth player like Klein last summer (or the four-year, $7.4 million contract he gave to the recently traded Matt Hendricks) have to be impressed with how quickly and efficiently he's cleared those mistakes off the books.