Del Zotto down with another injury
PHILADELPHIA >> The regular season is a week away and already the Flyers are running up the injury score.
Key defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who missed the last three months of last season and a lost playoff round to the Washington Capitals with an injury, is down and out again.
Del Zotto seemed fine after playing in the Flyers’ 4-2 exhibition victory over the New York Rangers Thursday night. But he missed practice at the Skate Zone Friday and the Flyers later released a statement saying Del Zotto would miss four to five weeks with a “lower body injury.”
No other information was released from the Flyers’ crack medical information team.
The effect of the Del Zotto injury is twofold. For one, he’s a vital puck-mover in what now shapes up as one of the Atlantic Division’s most mobile blue line groups. Therefore, he will be missed. He scored four goals and 13 points in 52 games before the wrist injury last season, but is consistently one of the Flyers’ leaders in timeon-ice.
But with Del Zotto not in the fold, 19-yearold junior-eligible defender Ivan Provorov is essentially confirmed as a top-4 regular Flyers defenseman heading into the season.
Provorov had already appeared to win a spot for a general manager in Ron Hextall who has gained an executive reputation for giving players all the time they need to develop in the junior and minor league ranks. Provorov is clearly a step above.
Another effect of this injury is the probable temporary easement it gives Hextall in his fight to remain salary cap compliant. While he said he was hesitant to put Scott Laughton, who is also out for four to five weeks with an injury, on long-term injured reserve, that was because Laughton’s salary was relatively low ($863,333).
But Del Zotto’s $3.875 million is another matter altogether. Hextall will almost certainly put him on LTIR, keeping the Flyers easily below the $73 million payroll max at the start of the season, which for them commences Friday in Los Angeles.
In addition to Del Zotto’s and Laughton’s injuries, the Flyers are also missing defenseman Brandon Manning, who is listed as “week to week” with an upper body injury, believed to be a shoulder.
That would leave the Flyers with six healthy defenders as currently constituted, with Mark Streit and Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas and Nick Schultz. But Manning is still considered to be possible for duty in time for the season opener against the Kings.