That was fast: Flyers sign Del Zotto to one-year, $1.3M deal


It didn’t take long for Ron Hextall to find Kimmo Timonen’s replacement.

Just hours after losing Timonen’s services to a blood clotting issue, the Flyers inked former Rangers and Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year deal. Del Zotto, 24, split last season between New York and Nashville and had a nightmarish time in both cities, landing in both Alain Vigneault’s and Barry Trotz’s doghouses.

A former first-round pick, Del Zotto was at one point considered an up-and-coming young blueliner. He finished eighth in Calder voting on the strength of a 37-point campaign in 2009-10 and had a banner year in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 10 goals and 41 points to finish 12th in Norris voting (ahead of Duncan Keith, if you can imagine that.)

But that feels like a long time ago.

Last season was so bad that, according to the New York Post, one NHL club claimed Del Zotto’s reputation was “in tatters.” Nashville didn’t even bother giving him a qualifying offer after he scored just one goal and five points in 25 games, occasionally sitting as a healthy scratch.

In Philadelphia, though, he’ll certainly have a chance to revive his career.

Philly’s new projected top-six defense is Mark Streit, Braydon Coburn, Andrew MacDonald, Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn and Nick Schultz — hardly an impenetrable unit, and one that should provide Del Zotto an opportunity to find minutes. What’s more, he’s an offensive defenseman and Philly is looking to replace some of what Timonen brought to the table — namely on the power play. Timonen was second on the team in PP TOI last season (3:25 per game), and led all Flyer rearguards with 20 power play points.

UPDATE: Per TSN, the deal is for $1.3 million. Assuming Timonen’s $2 million cap hit goes on LTIR, the Flyers get Del Zotto and an additional $700k of relief, which isn’t too shabby.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.