After the most frustrating season of his NHL career, defenseman Michael Del Zotto will bring a resolute attitude to the Flyers.
"It was a bit of humbling season," said Del Zotto, who was traded from the New York Rangers to Nashville in January, and was spurned in the free-agent market this summer until the Flyers signed him to a one-year, $1.3 million deal Tuesday. "This off-season is the most motivated I've ever been to get back and prove people wrong - and get back to where I was before."
Del Zotto, 24, signed because veteran Kimmo Timonen is battling career-threatening blood clots, had 37 points as a rookie in 2009-10, and had his best season in 2011-12, when he had career highs in goals (10), points (41) and plus-minus rating (plus 20).
But he struggled mightily in two of his other three seasons, and was a healthy scratch in numerous games in the 2013-14 campaign.
Del Zotto, who said he was looking forward to facing the Rangers, has been pushing himself in the weight room and in on-ice workouts this summer, trying to get in the best shape of his life.
"Last year, it just seemed I lost my confidence early in the season, and it's a confidence game," Del Zotto said in a conference call with reporters. "If you don't believe in yourself and don't believe in your ability to make the plays you need to, it's tough to go on from there.
"I didn't really get much ice time after the first week of the season; we had a tough start to the year . . . and it just kind of spiraled from there and was a bit of a domino effect. But that's in the past. As I said, this is the most motivated I've ever been, and I'm excited to joining Philadelphia - a great team and a great opportunity for me. I just want to help out any way I can."
The Flyers are hoping a change of scenery helps Del Zotto like it did goalie Steve Mason, who had a brilliant rookie season in Columbus but then floundered until he was traded to the Orange and Black, reviving his career.
An offensive-minded defenseman, Del Zotto figures to be paired with Braydon Coburn or Luke Schenn. He said he likes the Flyers' attack. They have "a lot of offensive ability, and I think that's where I can step in and move the puck up to those forwards who can make plays, and be able to join the rush."
With Del Zotto in the fold, the Flyers are about 4.6 million over the $69 million cap. Teams can go 10 percent over the cap in the summer.
The Flyers will gain about $6.9 million in cap relief when Chris Pronger and Timonen are placed on the long-term injured reserve list.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.