Player: Kevin Klein
Cap Hit Outlook: $2.9 Million/year, signed through 2017-2018
Status: Under Contract, Top 4 Defensive Defenseman
2015-2016 G-A-P: 9-17-26 in 69 games
Kevin Klein has been a blessing in disguise ever since he was traded to the New York Rangers from the Nashville Predators on January 22, 2014 in exchange for struggling offensive minded defenseman, Michael Del Zotto. The summer before the trade, Klein signed a 5-year, $14.5 million-dollar contract with the Predators. With a cap hit just under $3 million dollars; Klein is a tremendous value on the blueline. What the Rangers couldn’t have realized before making the trade is that Klein would have his two best offensive years while wearing the red, white and blue.
Klein has made a career being a stay at home, shut down defenseman who very seldom makes a mistake in his defensive zone. Since emerging under the big spot light of Madison Square Garden, Klein has flourished offensively, more than doubling his career high in goals the last two seasons, with 9 genos. Klein’s consistency on the ice has allowed AV to rely on him to play big minutes during pivotal moments in a game. Ironically, his consistency also shows through his stats, posting identical lines of 9 goals and 17 assists during each of his first two years with the Rangers. Klein has also shown he can score a big goal at an opportune time recording 4 GWG during his two-year tenure
Klein may not be the flashiest player, which as a defenseman is often a good characteristic. He does, however, supply a stable defensive force on an otherwise old and aging defensive core on the Rangers roster. Assuming a Boyle retirement, and the good possibility that Yandle walks, this open up the door for Klein to move up on the depth chart and be a crucial player in the years to come. This obviously also opens the door to infuse some youth into the roster with young talents Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath.
The most striking aspect of Kevin Klein is his very undervalued cap hit. At $2.9 million dollars, Klein was the 5th most expensive “everyday” defenseman on the roster. Klein was only more expensive than Keith Yandle, who is going to have a large payday this summer, and in my opinion, should not be at the expense of Jeff Gorton. Klein is slated to be one of our best defenseman in the next two years coming in at an incredible value that cannot be replaced with any other defenseman around the league. Management would be wise to keep him around during the duration of his deal, and possibly look to extend his contract based on his performance and contract demands.
A D-man who is solid defensively, can show some offense, and has a relatively small cap hit is a rare entity. The Rangers should take full advantage of this deal. What the Rangers do have to be careful about is Klein’s 33-years of age when his contract expires. Management can’t afford to award another aging, skill deteriorating defenseman, a large money, long-term deal, with a no trade clause. Management needs to learn from their mistakes with the Dan Girardi and Marc Staal contracts and not make the same mistake with Klein for the third time.