The Michael Del Zotto chapter is over. Wednesday afternoon the New York Rangers announced they acquired right-handed defenseman Kevin Klein from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Del Zotto.
Personal note before I get into the analysis of the deal. There aren't many trying moments being the managing editor of this website. For the most part, I love all of you and I love your opinions and your comments. But the comments section often deteriorated quickly when people started talking about Del Zotto. Like, really quickly. Nothing would annoy me more than a story about not Del Zotto turning into a 400-comment monster section about Del Zotto. That's no fault of his, but it's over now and I'm thankful for that. I wish Del Zotto nothing but the best in Nashville. By all accounts he was a great teammate and a great person.
Anyway, this was a move that we all saw coming from a mile away. There were rumors, then more rumors, then even more rumors before the official trade. It happened a little slower than I expected, but the end result was pretty much the writing we all saw on the wall: Del Zotto was not going to turn a corner in New York and both parties agreed a split was needed.
So Glen Sather made a savvy move -- as he usually does on the trade front -- to upgrade the Rangers' defense. Klein doesn't have offensive numbers that blow you away, or really at all. He has just a single goal and two assists in 47 games this year. Instead, the 29-year-old defenseman's calling card is his defense, and his ability to play in his own end without taking penalties.
The two major notes in this move? Klein is a righty, something the Rangers have lacked since they lost Michael Sauer (as noted by Glen Sather on the team's official conference call) and he's locked up for the next five years (including this one) at $2.9-million a season. Cost certainty is a word that's going to be thrown around a lot as the salary cap continues to rise, and Klein is the perfect example of a cost certain player. His cap hit is very, very reasonable, and the Rangers now have a solid stay-at-home defenseman locked in cheaply for the next five years. Don't discount how important that will be when the cap rises and the Rangers now have a few extra millions to play with.
On the flip side, some will be upset at the age difference between the two defenseman. Del Zotto is over five years younger than Klein, and still growing as a player. Here's the problem with Del Zotto, though: The consistency. Del Zotto's offense (to this point) hasn't blossomed enough to cover up for his defensive mistakes. And the 40-point season we saw in 2011-2012 never really returned. The Rangers were patient with Del Zotto (note: not the fans) but it never panned out. It's also worth mentioning that it wouldn't shock me if he broke out in Nashville. He has the tools to be an offensive player, but he's going to be far more expensive than Klein (another contract negotiation upcoming this summer) and he's far more volatile as a player.
So who won this deal? I've seen a lot of people call this a hockey deal, and I agree. The Rangers grab the defensive stability they badly need, while Nashville is taking a flier on a young player with upside. And for an added bonus, as a righty Klein will allow John Moore to move back to his natural left side (which should help him immensely).
This also gives the Rangers some added insurance in case Sather does decide to deal Girardi at the deadline, or if the two sides can't come to an agreement.
There's not much more to say on this. For both sides this is the end of a chapter.
Thoughts on this?
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