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.
#Canucks injuries strike again…
Sven Baertschi (upper body)
Alex Edler (lower body)
Brock Boeser (groin)
Michael Del Zotto (bad)
Elias Pettersson (concussion)
— S7 (@S7Dsn) October 25, 2018
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?