The Nashville Predators are shopping young defenseman Michael Del Zotto before he hits restricted free agency on July 1, reports Renaud Lavoie of TVA.
Del Zotto, 24, was acquired by Nashville from the New York Rangers in a midseason trade earlier this year. A former first-round pick, he struggled during his time with the Predators and even got called out by the team’s coaching staff after being a healthy scratch during the season.
During 25 games with Nashville, Del Zotto recorded just one goal and five points. Two years after finishing 12th in Norris Trophy voting with 41 points in 77 games as a 21-year-old, it’s becoming unclear whether he’ll ever take another significant step forward.
The news continues a busy offseason for Nashville, which acquired high-scoring wing James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and looks to be gearing up for a playoff run. The Predators are one of the rising teams in the league, and not only were they hoping to land Neal, but they agreed to acquire Jason Spezza before the Ottawa forward vetoed the trade.
So we know Nashville is looking to win soon, but that plan may not include Del Zotto for now. As a restricted free agent, the Predators still have some leverage and he can’t simply sign elsewhere, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that January’s trade hasn’t worked out for either side.
Trading a young guy like Del Zotto just months after acquiring him would be somewhat unusual, even if it’s somewhat understandable in this case. Maybe the team just doesn’t like the fit.