Ducks reacquire Michael Del Zotto in 3-team deal with Red Wings, Panthers

Ducks reacquire Michael Del Zotto in 3-team deal with Red Wings, Panthers
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The NHL holiday roster freeze goes into effect at midnight, and the Ducks beat that deadline by several hours, acquiring defenseman Michael Del Zotto in a three-team trade on Monday with the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers.

Del Zotto, who will join the Ducks’ AHL team in San Diego, first went from the Panthers to the Red Wings for right wing Givani Smith. Then Del Zotto was flipped from the Red Wings to the Ducks for center Danny O’Regan.

While it is a trade involving three minor-leaguers, the move has some interesting storylines. First off, it is the first deal between Ducks GM Pat Verbeek and his one-time boss, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman. Verbeek not only worked for Yzerman in Detroit but was also on his staff in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Secondly, it is the third time Del Zotto has been in the Ducks’ organization. He was briefly a Duck during the 2018-19 season (a 12-game stint), was sent to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline and got his name on the Stanley Cup with St. Louis. His second run with the Ducks was a bit longer – 49 games during the 2019-20 season.

For the here and now, Del Zotto, 32, is an insurance policy, someone who could come in and fill an NHL roster spot if the Ducks have an injury. Or if – or when? – they move a defenseman at or before the trade deadline like they did last season when they sent Hampus Lindholm to Boston and Josh Manson to Colorado.

Del Zotto played 25 games this season with the AHL team in Charlotte but has 736 games of NHL experience, most recently 26 games with the Ottawa Senators in 2021-22.


The Ducks made the trade one day ahead of their first meeting this season against the Kings, which is at Arena. Both teams have won their past two games – the Kings beat Boston in a shootout, on the road, and then the visiting San Jose Sharks, also in a shootout. The Ducks, sparked by rookie goaltender Lukas Dostal, defeated Montreal and Edmonton on the road. The Oilers outshot the Ducks 49-17 and the Ducks held on to win, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon. Rookie Mason McTavish had two assists, Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist and defenseman John Klingberg had the game-winner in the third period.

“It’ll be cool playing there,” Ducks center Mason McTavish said of the game in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of history there with the Kings and the Lakers.”

The game often represents an excellent frame of reference.

“Just the rivalry alone – it doesn’t matter if one team is in first place and the other one is in last or both are even in the standings,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said on Saturday. “There’s going to be a good game there. No matter what year it is, you always measuring yourself against them.”

Said Sam Carrick: “It’s a little odd that we haven’t played them yet. But anytime we play them – just with the history between the two teams – they’re always big games. They’re always very competitive.

“I’m not sure it’s so much of a measuring stick, it’s more that both teams really want to win and don’t necessarily like each other. I’m sure it’ll be no different.”