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Photo Credit: Vancouver Canucks / Twitter

CanucksArmy Roundtable: Handling the Michael Del Zotto Situation

In the season premiere of the CanucksArmy Roundtable, we discussed a happy topic, pondering the production of Canucks wunderkind Elias Pettersson. Well, Pettersson is on the sidelines, along with many of the team’s other high-minute players, and we’re left to debate less bright and sunny topics.

Those injuries did allow Michael Del Zotto back into the lineup after missing eight straight games. Contrary to S7’s tweet below, Del Zotto’s scratches were actually a coach’s decision.

One issue that has been presented with regard to Del Zotto is that he is a tradeable asset on an expiring contract. On a rebuilding team, the idea is typically to get something (a draft pick, and depth prospect) for players of that sort at the trade deadline.

On the other hand, Green and Benning have received much praise this season for their willingness to look past age and veteran status when building a roster and composing a lineup, as Del Zotto and the Toronto Marlies’ Sam Gagner can attest.

This is clearly a complex situation with arguments to be made on both sides, making it ideal for a friendly debate amongst our writing staff.

So here’s the question: did Travis Green do the right thing in sitting Del Zotto for eight games in a row? Is showing that veteran status isn’t enough to keep an underperforming player in the lineup an important point to make, or is he tanking the value of someone that the Canucks should be looking to trade?

Cory Hergott

Ideally, the club will be able to recoup an asset for MDZ at some point. I’m not sure what his trade value would be, honestly. That isn’t me knocking the player as much as it is me not having a foggy clue what the pending UFA defenceman market is. It changes depending on the time of year and how badly the acquiring team needs his services.

I think that if the team is going to play the players that deserve to play, throughout the organization, that it should apply to the vets as well. If that’s the culture that they want, and I think it is, players will have to keep competing for their jobs. Nothing wrong with a competitive working environment.

Janik Beichler

My prediction is the Canucks will not be able to recoup an asset for MDZ, and that is 100% me knocking the player (the player, not the person). His play has been awful this season, and I can’t see how a potential playoff team could look at him at the deadline and say “huh, this guy could help us win.” Plus, if the Canucks trade him for a late-round pick, they’re sending a message to the rest of the league that Canucks players can be had for cheap. Can’t do that.

So when it comes to the Canucks handling him properly, I’m not sure there’s much they can do. If he’s in the press box, he loses value. But so far, he hasn’t exactly upped his value during on-ice appearances either.

Disregarding trade value, I’ll much rather have MDZ in the press box than Ben Hutton, who’s once again proving he has a much bigger (positive) impact on the game than Del Zotto.

Harman Dayal

Michael Del Zotto didn’t have much trade value to begin with, so I’m not opposed to the idea of sitting him in the press box. For me, it’s a lot more important for the organization to send a message that veterans need to be accountable for their play and not just the rookies. It’s hard to preach the notion that the young players need to earn their stripes and then to show hypocrisy in gifting lineup spots to older players who’ve largely underperformed.

Del Zotto’s scratch coupled with Sam Gagner’s demotion and Tim Schiller’s early press box appearances give that assertion a lot more substance. At this point it’s a simple reality – if you’re not one of the top 6 defensemen or 12 forwards, you’re not going to be in the lineup and that’s exactly the way it should be.

Stephan Roget

I think that Michael Del Zotto has been around the league long enough to have pretty much established his value. Every coach and GM in the league will have seen him play on multiple occasions – if they’re thinking about acquiring him, they know what he can do.

As far as the press box duty goes, it’s hard to argue against MDZ being there. He hasn’t distinguished himself much at all from the other bottom-end defenders, and most fans would agree that a young player like Pouliot deserves more opportunities than Del Zotto at this point. The only real downside is the effect it may have on the dressing room, as Del Zotto seems to be a popular teammate.

Ryan Hank

Michael Del Zotto is a tricky one to me. He isn’t a smart option to put in the lineup and his stats back that up. If they are interested in shopping him, they have to play him but by playing him they suffer.

They did make their own bed with his deal, Gudbranson, Gagner, and yes sorry, Eriksson.

They have to put on their big boy pants and own it and whatever that looks like is the route they need to take. Scratch, waive, whatever!

Jeremy Davis

This one had me tied up in knots a little bit, being a firm believer in asset management and whatnot. But I have to side with it being the right call. The Canucks are clearly making a concerted effort to redefine their “culture”, as they say, and having veterans underperform and be exempt from repercussion severely undermines the whole idea of a meritocracy. The Canucks have talked a big game on this front for years, and they’ve dipped their toe in these waters from time to time (see the reassignments of Higgins, Christopher and Prust, Brandon), but they haven’t always been consistent with it. This year, they seem to mean business.

As for his trade value, I have to wonder, like my colleagues above, what his value would have been in the first place. In this day and age, it’s not so easy to pull the wool over the eyes of NHL executives, who are perfectly aware of what Michael Del Zotto is and isn’t. He was a routine healthy scratch two years ago in Philadelphia, and one season of 82 games can’t overcome the results that he puts up in those games.

Nevertheless, I hope the Canucks do whatever they can to get something for Del Zotto before his contract expires, whatever that may be. I understood (though didn’t entirely agree) with their hesitancy to move Hamhuis in 2016 for less than asking price, but Del Zotto isn’t nearly in that class of player. Del Zotto is the type of player that you take anything for, even the 217th overall pick in the next draft, and run with it.

And now, once again, we’ll turn it over to the readers. What do you think about Del Zotto’s performance as a Canuck until now? And the Canucks handling this situation as well as they could be?

  • Del Zotto, as a player, seems to be a decent puck mover, a good teammate, but a bad defenseman. Maybe a playoff-bound team, after scrapping the barrel of options to add to depth, figures it can use such a puck mover while somehow mitigating his defensive liabilities.

    But then his AAV smacks you over the head like an angry Old Testament God. I do not see any playoff team being able to absorb that, even w/ maximal salary retention.

    • Around two thirds of the teams in the league would be able to easily acquire Del Zotto *now*, without factoring in LTIR relief, pro-rating, and salary retention. Factor those in come February, and taking on about a million in salary will not be an issue for anyone.

  • I think Del Zotto will start seeing more playing time now that the injuries have started. Without the injuries, I expect he would be inserted into the next game after Pouliot’s back to back give away goals. Lets hope Del Zotto’s play can lead to a trade for a late round pick. I don’t want any low end prospects in return as that may prevent them from being able to sign NCAA free agents.

  • Seems like MDZ’s value is higher if he can pass through waivers and become waiver exempt for the remainder of the season. That way, other teams can stash him in the AHL and call him up to be available to them for playoffs if the need arises for that extra insurance.

  • As for his value, it is minimal. I would try for a late round pick.
    Getting someone else’s ‘maybe prospect’ just plugs up our system. I hold our scouting in the highest regard so any pick that we make has at least some potential (even if it is to fill out an AHL roster…..).
    Play him when you have to, sit him when you can, see what happens…..

  • His value is, what a buyer is willing to pay.

    If his service is no longer required here in Van, the prudent thing to do would be to offer him to the market place. Put the for sale sign out, see what happens, which I’m sure has happened already.
    His highest value is probably at the trade deadline.

  • Remember when TD assured us Benning made out like a bandit bringing in Del Zotto? TD predicted 45/50 pt seasons and 1st powerplay duty and then Del Zotto would be flipped for a first rounder. A win all the way around!

    • Haha yeah TD stands for Total Dunce – this is the same clown who predicted Eriksson was going to pot 40 goals a season and was worth 8 mill US per… TD – Total Dreamer, Total Dweeb.

  • I’ve never really understood why NHL coaches tend to deploy their rosters the same way night after night, only making a tweak when a line runs into a slump. Has MDZ deserved to sit out 8 games in a row? Assuming that there is no character issue in play, given the composition and prospects for the team this season it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to leave him fresh watching all those games while other guys clearly run into fatigue then injury issues.

  • Michael del Zotto is here for now and in the line up presently because of injuries. He’ll just have to show Green and Benning he’s the professional D they thought they would get when signing him. MDZ is not finished in the NHL but can’t see him being here in the long run. Whatever they can get for him is impossible to predict. Deep down I truly hope he steps up and soon.

  • No offence to Del Zotto, but no team is trading for him. The best they can hope is to waive him and hope someone bites. I’d way rather see Chatfield, Brisebois, Julolevi or Sautner in the lineup at this point. Or Biega, who had a solid game last night. MDZ is the Gagner of the Canucks defense. If he’s in the lineup, it means a young guy is being deprived of a chance to play. Cut bait.

    • MDZ is LHD depth at this stage.
      Chatfield and Biega: RHD’s
      Sautner was waived and sits lowest on LHD depth chart.
      GM RJ has stated they want OJ to remain in Utica until he’s NHL ready.
      Brisebois has been recalled but didn’t play over MDZ so MDZ will be played until a trade happens and then it looks like Olli’s spot.

      • With a long Edler absence, very sure Brise will get in some games, mixed in with MDZ. As a second-year pro, you want him to start getting in some experience, and not just sit. Expect similar approach to last year’s Goldy.

  • Del Zotto had two seasons last year. In the first half he was dreadful. In the second half, he was one of the Canucks better defenseman, earning public praise from Green.

    I was wondering which Del Zotto would show up this year. Now I know.

    • No offence but Green has been publicly praising Little Things Loui the past 7 days so praise from the coach really cant be relied on now can it?

  • Look at this list of defencemen Benning has acquired through trades or free agency in his tenure:

    Sbisa, Clendening, Bartowski, Biega, Pedan, Del Zotto, Pouliot, Stetcher, Gudbranson, Sautner, Holm….think thats it?

    Stetcher he should get credit for but that is beyond bad. We’re talking bottom of the league type defencemen that he’s spent millions on, not to mention assets for (about a years worth of draft picks/prospects).

    But please keep supporting him as GM.

    • You’re right Dirk, instead of spending millions on defencemen to fill out the team, Benning should have not paid anyone and we’ll just ice 3 forwards and a goalie every game…pffft who needs defenders eh?

      • Druken Lout. That is just a dumb comment. Is it not obvious that Dirk implies that they could have allocated their money to target some other defenseman through trades or the FA market?

        • Talking of obvious, you must have missed the satire in my comment!
          If it were as easy as you suggest then do you not think management would have done so? Players normally go to FA for a reason and you may have noticed that the team hasn’t had much talent to trade away. And before you mention Guddy, yes I know there’s no defending that.

      • Not sure, but I think Dirk was getting at the point that in light of how crappy all of those players have been, he could have just iced 10 Jordan Subbans or similar AHL lifers all on ELCs and most likely have gotte similar production out of them and allocated the $ he did spend on better forwards. But again, this all goes back to his complete lack of pro scouting skills.

      • Ryan Kesler and Gustav Forsling are not nothing. There’s also opportunity cost – by trading for or signing inferior defensemen, he’s missed out on the opportunity to sign or trade for better defensemen.

        It’s a bit shocking that the Canucks haven’t completely cleaned house on their pro scouting department.

        • Like he had any leverage in the Kesler trade. And he did get more than Sbisa for him. Gustav Forsling can’t even crack a crappy Hawks line-up. As for the scouting department, they got the best player in the draft with the 5th pick (Petterssen), Boeser with the 23rd pick, Gaudette in the 5th round, Rathbone in the 4th round, Demo in the 2nd, DiPietro in the 3rd, Palmu in the 6th. I’d say their record has been decent. Bennings free agent signings are another matter.

      • Uh….may want to check on that again. a 19 year old 1st (McCann) and a high 2nd for Guddy, a 3rd for Pedan, a 4th for Pouliot, a 5th for Holm and another ‘5th’ in Forsling for Clendening. Not to mention the extra 3rd thrown in to get Sbisa…

        Looks like a years worth of picks/prospects to me

  • MDZ is what he is, being 28 and playing on 4 teams in the last 4 years says it all. He is best suited to be on 1 year deals as the 7th or 8th D-man making the league minimum, if he is even playing NHL next year. He is only useful for fill in spot duties at this point for the Canucks then he is gone so no big deal.

  • Beichler wrote, in part: “Plus, if the Canucks trade him for a late-round pick, they’re sending a message to the rest of the league that Canucks players can be had for cheap. Can’t do that.”

    I see a different message if the Canucks trade MDZ for a late round pick-that the Canucks will trade assets that are at best worth late round picks for late round picks.

    Taking over the MDZ contract isn’t worth more than a late round pick. This wouldn’t be giving up good assets cheaply.

    Otoh, since all he’s worth is a late round pick, there is some benefit to keeping him. I’m inclined to think MDZ has some value just in allowing the Comets, who don’t have a strong defence, to avoid weakening it even further. Imo it will be next preseason, after MDZ is gone from the organization via free agency if not traded, before the defence prospects in Utica will be threatening for regular NHL duty.

    I’d keep him for the season, but without any thought of extending him, unless offered more than the late-round pick some of us are expecting.