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Sather, AV on acquiring Kevin Klein in Del Zotto trade to Preds

 

 

             Coach Alain Vigneault called Klein, 29,  a stay-at-home defenseman with “a little bit of bite, solid defensively and can make a good first pass. He’s not an offensive-type D, he’s a good, two-way solid D.”

             Klein, who will arrive in New York tonight and skate in the morning, will begin his Rangers career with John Moore, 23, who can now switch back to his natural left side.

             “I see some good internal competition (with righty Anton Stralman) there," AV said. "He was obviously playing behind one of the best right-handed defensemen in the NHL (Shea Weber)  but he played some big minutes for that team and he played some hard minutes. I would say he’s like Anton, he’s fighting for that job (in the top four). He’ll make us a solid 1-2-3 defense pairs.”

            Here's some excerpts from Sather's conference call with New York writers:

            "Having a player of his (Klein's) experience and caliber under contract till he's 34  (through 17-18 at $2.9 million per year) made a lot of sense, and we needed to have a right-handed defenseman." 

               Del Zotto, 23, is eligible for salary arbitration this summer, and the writing was on the wall.  Sather had spoken with his Toronto-based agents several times, and also had talks with the Senators and Leafs.    

              Sather said he did not want to criticize Del Zotto. "He's had a couple great years, a couple interesting years. People change, the atmosphere changed. We're always evolving. Michael always tried his best."

              Del Zotto, who was the first-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2008, had his best season in 2011-12, when he scored 10 goals and 41 points but had not been in synch with coach Alain Vigneault, who had scratched him frequently, at one point for eight games in a 24-game stretch.

            My take: Del Zotto's market value had dropped, but Klein, who Nashville observers tell me is particularly effective on the penalty kill and a great skater, seems like a fair swap.  He is making $2.9 million this season and carries a $2.55 million cap hit, so the money's almost a wash.

            Yes, Sather sacrificed youth and offensive potential for solid, defensive experience. Klein has played 403 NHL games with 16 goals and 66 assists. But Del Zotto surely needed a change, and Klein was on a team with an excess of RH ds.

               Ever since the loss of Michael Sauer to a career-ending concussion in December., 2011, Sather said, "we've been short a right-handed shooting defenseman. They're hard to find."
 
             Sather said he hoped to re-sign unrestricted free agent defensemen Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, "before the season is over...but it does give us more insurance on that side."
        
              Klein should have no trouble fitting in, Sather said, because the deal didn't happen overnight. "The coaches know him (from playing against Nashville) and he plays 17 to 18 minutes a night."

           

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