The Nashville Predators already had plenty of offensive defensemen. Besides cornerstone player Shea Weber, they had Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Mattias Ekholm and power-play specialist Ryan Ellis coming along nicely.
So why did they add still another young offensive defenseman in Michael Del Zotto? The team moved the older and less-skilled Kevin Klein to get him, which makes sense for a team needing to retool.
But when is this team going to fill its glaring need for offensive forwards?
Del Zotto is a pending restricted free agent. He didn’t click with Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, so he wasn’t going to get another big contract in New York.
That forced GM Glen Sather to shop Del Zotto around the league. Klein should be a solid short-term fit for the Blue Shirts, adding some shot-blocking and defensive sturdiness to their mix.
By acquiring Del Zotto, the Predators will also have to commit some long-term money to him to make the trade work. If he becomes a top four defenseman in Nashville and assumes a big power play role, that will stunt the growth of at least one of the other young D-men.
But Predators GM David Poile offered reporters this explanation:
“We’re a team that struggles a little bit offensively. A lot of our offense comes from our defense, and I think Del Zotto will be another piece that will help us in that area. This is a trade that we made for today believing that in this push to get back into the playoff race that he can help us. Most importantly, we think this is a trade more for the long term.”
And . . .
“We really felt with the drafting of Seth Jones and his play and with Ryan Ellis seeming to get better and better with every game that this was getting to be more of an inevitable situation with our team in terms of the ice time and in terms of the fit. We’re really comfortable going forward with the right side of Shea Weber, Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis. So Del Zotto fits in nicely on the left side where he’s going to play. It gives the coach a lot of flexibility there.”
OK, great, you added another offensive defenseman. Now get back to us when you’ve added a half-dozen capable forwards.