Florida Panthers Sign Free Agent Defenceman

Florida Panthers Sign Free Agent

The Florida Panthers have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a  one-year, two-way contract that carries an NHL cap hit of $750,000. Del Zotto will once again be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Del Zotto Signs Deal: Florida Panthers Add Free Agent

The Florida Panthers have signed the 32-year-old defenseman after a successful 2021-22 season split between the AHL with the Belleville Senators and the NHL with Ottawa. This will be Del Zotto’s 14th professional season, playing that time with the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Colombus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators. In 26 AHL games this past season, Del Zotto scored 10 goals and added 17 assists for 27 points. Equally, in 26 NHL games, he had three goals and 10 assists for 13 points. The New York Rangers drafted Del Zotto 20th overall in the 2008 NHL entry draft.

Del Zotto’s two-year contract with Ottawa, which carried an annual average value of $2,000,000 was bought out Tuesday, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Stouffville, Ontario native had difficulty defining a spot on Ottawa’s young defensive corps, despite playing exceptionally at the AHL level.

What This Means

The 32-year-old veteran brings a plethora of experience to Florida’s roster, having played in 736 NHL games throughout his career. He has equally played in 32 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The defenseman’s offensive stats have improved throughout his career, and he will be a strong seventh defenseman option for Florida. Having lost important pieces in Mason Marchment and Claude Giroux, he will equally play a leadership role on the roster compromised mainly of young stars.

With Florida riding the cap ceiling, Del Zotto is a cost-efficient option who can still make an impact at the NHL level. However, his two-way contract can equally pay him $200,000 at the AHL level.

Although he may no longer be in his prime, Del Zotto’s quick skating and agility make him efficient all over the ice. His intelligent playmaking ability allows his teammates to focus on more defensive aspects of the game, where his game has deteriorated the most. Del Zotto can equally have an impact on the power play, using his athleticism to drive play.


Del Zotto won’t be the type of player to decide a game, however, his offensive abilities still make him an NHL option. If the NHL fit isn’t there, he will be a fantastic addition to Florida’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers. Either way, Del Zotto was a no-risk signing for the 2021-22 Presidents Trophy Winners.