Many fans of the Dallas Stars have been wowed by the offensive improvements made by general manager Jim Nill, yet one area that has fans somewhat perplexed is the lack of change on the Dallas blue line. While Nill has stated publicly that he likes his defensemen, many fans are still skeptical about the defense corps and would still like to see improvements there. Recently Josh Clark wrote about the potential discontent between P.K. Subban and Montreal, and how that translated to the possibility of him joining the Dallas Stars in the near future. Saturday Subban signed an eight year, $72 million dollar contract with the Canadiens, cementing him as a Montreal fixture for years to come. For Stars fans, the thought of Subban in victory green was fun while it lasted.
Another more realistic option is Michael Del Zotto who is yet to find a team this summer, and who sparks some debate over whether or not he would be a fit in Dallas. For those unfamiliar with Del Zotto, he is a former late first round draft pick of the New York Rangers. He broke into the league at 19 years of age and immediately showed signs of offensive potential, finishing his rookie season scoring 37 points in 80 games. During his sophomore season, he was cut by Evgeni Malkin’s skate and missed around 30 games with the injury. In 2011-12 he had his best season, putting up 41 points in 77 games and a plus/minus rating of plus 20. From there, his stats have continually trended in the wrong direction. His goals, assists and point totals have decreased over three consecutive seasons, and he has been a minus player during that span.
Defensively he has never been great, but when offensive defensemen are producing offensively, the defensive miscues can be overlooked. Some argue that his decline is due to the systems he has been placed in, others due to coaching differences, while some speculate he has never been that good.
Would MDZ be a fit on the Dallas blue line? I previously wrote that there is already both depth and a logjam of sorts in terms of the Stars defensive group. In that respect, he would have to offer a significant upgrade over one of the defenders on the roster to earn a spot. MDZ is listed at six feet and 195 pounds, putting him roughly the same size as Trevor Daley. For a defensive group that is already undersized by NHL standards, MDZ doesn’t do anything to help Dallas in that respect. Plus the Stars already have offensive style defensemen in Daley, Alex Goligoski, and Sergei Gonchar, not to mention the offensive potential of the prospects aiming to crack the roster. Do they really need another from the same mold?
There is also the salary cap situation. Dallas still has to sign Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin, and need to leave some wiggle room for those two contracts. Despite that, when an unrestricted free agent gets into August, the price seems to come down significantly. The Stars could move one of their heavier cap hits, and replace it with a cheaper, higher ceiling option like Del Zotto, provided they find a team willing to take on a contract.
When you add it all up, Del Zotto certainly has the upside but there doesn’t seem to be a fit for him in Dallas, at least at the present moment. They really don’t have a need for another smaller offensively slanted defender, and there are already plenty of defenders fighting for a limited number of roster spots. Del Zotto would come cheap, but Dallas needs to be careful with their $5.3 million cap space until Dillon and Eakin are signed, just in case they need it for them. Things could change, but at this point, it appears there is no room in Dallas for Del Zotto.
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading and go Stars!