Vancouver Canucks: Michael Del Zotto ready to lead

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Michael Del Zotto
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Michael Del Zotto /

In order to boost the blue line, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning signed defenceman Michael Del Zotto to a two-year deal. Del Zotto spoke with Sportsnet and is looking forward to being a leader for the young players.

The Vancouver Canucks will field a number of young players in 2017-18, so it was imperative for general manager Jim Benning to find some veterans that could lead the youth as they enter a rebuilding stage.

Benning did go bargain hunting this offseason, and found veteran defenceman Michael Del Zotto on a two-year deal worth a cheap $6 million.

With the likes of Erik Gudbranson (25), Troy Stecher (23), and Ben Hutton (23), on the blue line, it was crucial for Benning to bring experience on defence. The 27-year-old Del Zotto — a slick puck-moving defenceman who racks up over 100 hits a season — should be a linchpin on Vancouver’s blue line in 2018.

Del Zotto also spoked with Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair to discuss his upcoming tenure on the west coast, and seems extremely keen on being able to play for the Canucks. Here’s what he said about playing for his first team from the Great White North:

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"First time in a Canadian market for me, which I’m really excited about,.It doesn’t matter where you are, any time you come back to Canada it’s just a different feel when you play a game there. They just live and breathe hockey so I’m super excited for that."

Del Zotto is also more than eager to have an opportunity to play more of a “leadership” role.

That wasn’t something he wasn’t able to do on the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers — who consisted plenty of their own veterans.

Del Zotto discussed his excitement on being able to be a leader for the rebuilding Canucks in 2017-18:

"I think the biggest thing that I’m excited for there is embracing that leadership role. It’s something I’ve taken on in the last year or two and you know I’m not old by any means, but I’m not 19 anymore, I’m going into my ninth season… I love picking young guys’ brains and being there for them to talk to. Anyone who gets to know me personally knows that I’m a pretty open person, I’m an open book, love to joke around, love to have fun, tease the boys in the locker room. It’s very rare you see me without a smile on my face.”"

With the Sedins entering their age 37 seasons while also in contract years, the future of the Canucks leadership roles are bleak beyond 2018. If Del Zotto’s able to lead by example on and off the ice, then the $6 million could be a major bargain.

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2017-18 is a rebuilding year for the Vancouver Canucks, so it will provide an ample opportunity for Del Zotto to help mentor the younger players as they try to grow into the franchise stars of the future.