Part of the offseason, besides engaging in the NHL free-agent frenzy, is for GMs to examine their teams and determine which restricted free agents are key for future success and warrant new contracts.
Del Zotto finished his third NHL campaign with career numbers (10 goals, 31 assists in 77 games) and a belief his horrific sophomore season was in the past. He came into training camp last season prepared and willing to do what was necessary to convince the coaching staff he belonged in the mix on the back line.
His 2011-12 season proved he belonged.
The season didn't finish as well as he's liked as Del Zotto struggled through the Devils' playoff series (mostly due to losing his grandmother), but, on the whole, it was a great sight witnessing the former 20th overall pick of the 2008 NHL draft shine once again on Broadway.
Locking up such a young piece to New York's defense is key, and there are a few reasons why.