Del Zotto down with an­other in­jury

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

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.

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