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.
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.