The New York Rangers on Wednesday traded the underachieving NHL player to Nashville in exchange for fellow defenceman Kevin Klein.
Del Zotto, a frequent healthy scratch earlier this season, had 11 points in 42 games in a reduced role for the Rangers this season.
Only 23, a change of scenery might serve the fifth-year NHLer well.
“Michael gives us another young, gifted left-handed shooting defenceman with significant offensive upside,” Predators general manager David Poile said in a statement. “We look forward to his presence on our already talented young blue line, further balancing our defensive corps.”
Del Zotto joins a Nashville blue-line that boasts offensively gifted players in Shea Weber, Roman Josi, and Seth Jones.
Two seasons ago, Del Zotto posted 10 goals, 41 points and a plus-20 rating in 77 regular-season games with the Rangers.
A restricted free agent this summer with salary arbitration rights, he is averaging just 17 minutes 44 seconds of ice time per game this season, compared to 23:10 last season.
Del Zotto was drafted 20th overall by the Rangers in 2008 and named to the NHL all-rookie team following the 2009-10 season in which he recorded 37 points in 80 contests.
Filling a need
Klein, 29, fills a need for a right-handed shot on New York’s blue-line.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said recently that the left-handed Del Zotto wasn’t comfortable playing the right side after being asked to do so earlier this season.
Klein is a stay-at-home rearguard who has one goal and three points in 47 games this season.
He ranked second on the Predators in blocked shots with 94 and hits with 75.
The six-foot-one, 200-pound Klein appeared in 403 NHL regular-season games over nine seasons with Nashville, compiling 16 goals and 66 assists for 82 points.
Klein’s most productive season was in 2011-12 when he established career highs in assists (17) and points (21) while matching his career best in goals with four.
He is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2018.
Del Zotto and Klein each have salary cap hits of $2.9 million US this season, according to capgeek.com.