The calendar hasn't quite flipped over to August yet, but it will by the end of the week. That's enough for me to officially declare we're in the dog days of the offseason, that month before fans can really start getting ready for training camp and prospect tournaments, when the only news is the odd free agent signing, restricted or otherwise.
So the mere twitch of a rumor mill combined with amusing circumstantial evidence is really enough for discussion, which brings us to the case of Michael Del Zotto.
In the far reaches of the internet, there have been rumblings that the Dallas Stars might be interested in the 24-year-old defenseman, who became an unrestricted free agent when he was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Nashville Predators.
None of those are even strong enough to warrant being rumors at this point, honestly, but it is made a little more interesting by the fact that Del Zotto and Tyler Seguin are reportedly living together this summer (likely enjoying life in the way only young, wealthy athletes in the offseason can). Seguin and Del Zotto look like they've been buddies for a while, being good enough friends to spend part of the Olympic break together in Mexico and take adorable pictures.
So with two tiny whiffs of smoke in the vast abyss of the deep summer, it's worth a brief discussion of how, if at all,Del Zotto might fit in Dallas.
Well before the trade deadline, before the Stars spent much of that glorious cap space on Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky to bolster the offense, we briefly touched on Del Zotto as a possible trade or free agent target. The Predators weren't willing to qualify him with a $2.9 million offer after he put up a disappointing five points in 25 games after a trade from the New York Rangers, where he had put up 12 points in 42 games.
That's quite a disappointing season from the offensive defenseman who had a 41 points in 77 games in 2011-12 and 21 points in 46 games in the lockout-shortened following season. He never quite clicked with any of his coaching staffs, or at least that's what Larry Brooks thinks, and found himself on the outside looking in of what was a market that severely overpaid for defensemen who could put up points.
As the points declined, his defensive issues became more and more apparent. The question for Del Zotto is at 24, does he have the ability to rebuilt his confidence and become a serviceable, even if not elite, offensive defenseman who can get 30 points while staying out of the way in his own end? Someone eventually is going to take that risk. The question is just the cost.
So where would he slot in the Stars lineup if Dallas decided to take a shot at another reclamation project? The short answer is that he really doesn't, at least at the moment. With the eventual signing of restricted free agent Brenden Dillon and the almost certain full-time promotion of Patrik Nemeth, there are already seven defenseman penciled in for the Stars this year.
Additionally at 6-foot, 195 pounds, he would be yet another smallish, mobile defenseman who could contribute to the puck movement side of things but less so the play deep in the defensive zone. And the Stars cap situation is not scary quite yet, but with two important restricted free agents to sign, there is not very much wiggle room.
So if those tiny wisps of smoke actually mean something, if Seguin is actually enacting the Stars master play of using cute baby lions and fun summer activities to try and lure Del Zotto at a bargain price, it would almost certainly be the first in a series of moves to affect the Stars defense.
Of course, if they are able to trade a cap-heavy contract or two from somewhere, the picture starts looking a whole lot different. Del Zotto might have some issues, both in the traditional and advanced metrics, but he is a young kid with significantly more upside and NHL experience than some others at the back end of the defense. Should a hole open up somehow, he'd be a fairly attractive option, likely at a relatively affordable price.
But that will take other dominoes to fall to be a reasonable option. Still, at this time of the year, it's as interesting as anything else to ponder.