Mar
18

Is this the beginning of the end for Kevin Klein?

March 18, 2017, by

kevin klein

One of the big storylines this season for the Rangers has been injuries. Throughout the season, skaters all across the lineup have endured some form of injury or another, with even the perennially healthy Henrik Lundqvist falling victim to the injury bug. We’ve already covered the Jesper Fast angle of the injury story, so I thought I’d probe one of the more interesting questions raised by a fully healthy lineup: what happens with Kevin Klein.

Most everyone can acknowledge that Klein has had a down year. He’s never been much more than a low-end second pair, more appropriately third pair guy, but in years past his offensive production has masked his shortcomings. This year not so much, with the play of red hot rookie Brady Skjei compensating for his errors at best and those same errors on full display at worst.

Klein is an interesting case because while Dan Girardi or Marc Staal have seen similar struggles, both of them have long histories with the New York Rangers and have built up something of a reputation. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dan Girardi, for better or for worse, will wind up right back with Ryan McDonagh on the top pair once fully healthy (or at least healthy enough to play). Klein doesn’t really have that working for him on this team, and given the emergence of both Adam Clendening and Steve Kampfer he may soon find himself on the outside looking in when it comes to a roster spot.

Time to get what some might call obvious bias out of the way: Adam Clendening is better than Steve Kampfer. For whatever reason however, AV doesn’t seem to think so, preferring the steady/reliable/solid/whatever Kampfer over Clendening. This could be the subject of its own post, so I’ll spare you, but the point is that the two players directly competing with Klein are Clendening and Kampfer, with Kampfer probably more likely to draw into the lineup should Klein get benched.

Looking at the stats gives a slightly clearer view of the situation, although it should be said at the outset that the three players’ icetime varies widely, with Klein playing the most minutes at 837.59, Clendening playing 374.78, and Kampfer playing just 87.16. With Kampfer especially, these numbers need to be taken with a large grain of salt. Still, with raw CF% Clendening and Kampfer both lead Klein, posting a 56.36 and 53.06 respectively to Klein’s 48.85.

Looking at xGF%, and SCF% in order to gauge how much the three defensemen limit high danger chances muddies things a little bit, with Clendening still coming in first at 56.47 and 59.09, Klein at 50.32 and 53.15, and Kampfer at 48.49 and (woof) 42.11. What this tells us is essentially this: Clendening has been better than both of them by a good measure, but Kampfer and Klein are relatively close with the exception of scoring chances (I like xGF% better than SCF% for a few reasons, but that too could be its own post, although Manny over at corsica.hockey has a great one all about his xG model).

So is this the beginning of the end for Kevin Klein? He certainly hasn’t had a great season to start, and both Clendening and Kampfer have emerged as legitimate competition for his roster spot. Given that Klein doesn’t have quite the same stock of loyalty points that Dan Girardi or Tanner Glass have with AV, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of the reasonable for him to remain benched when healthy, at least until the coach decides to shake things up.

Looking at the bigger picture, this poses the problem of Klein being a relatively expensive third pairing defenseman who now might be a potential healthy scratch. If I’m Jeff Gorton I’d take the cheaper options any day of the week, and especially given the defensive remodel that’s likely to take place this summer, Klein’s days as a Ranger could be limited.

 

"Is this the beginning of the end for Kevin Klein?", 3 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Players

35 comments

  1. John B says:

    Pat,

    I’m sorry I have to respectfully disagree. You did not factor in that the TRUE measure of a defenseman is how many shots they block and how many hits they make. You can only quantify and evaluate a defenseman based upon the amount of time they’d spend in the defensive zone chasing the puck.

    Therefore your order is in complete reverse. Klein has far out preformed both KampFire and Clendening. When you have defenseman who spend too much time driving and moving the puck to the offensive zone, they are not REAL defenseman.

    • Evan M says:

      So you can evaluate defensemen only by how much time they spend chasing the puck in the D-zone? Put me out there then because I’d wind up chasing after that puck for a full 60 minutes and thereby be the best REAL d-man in the game.

      • LoosMoose says:

        It is time for Klein to move on down the bench and let the younger guys play. His play has been weak at best and this was supposed to be a “bounce back” year and it has been a flop. I hate to see anyone benched or cut, it sucks but for the good of the team you have to admit that the day is coming when you won’t have it anymore. Klein didn’t have that much to start with. Girardi, at $500,000 a MONTH…. think what the Rangers could do with a D-man that was worth that money. Time to go. Take all the stats and then something I never see mentioned… Clendening and Kampfer BOTH have legs… and they leave Klein in the dust. Their batteries charge back WAY faster… and Klein is faster than GIRARDI…. ouch !

  2. paulronty says:

    ” When you have defenseman who spend too much time driving and moving the puck to the offensive zone, they are not REAL defenseman.”– Ya, these are called forwards.

    As for Cledo,Mein Kampf & Klein—they all suck & so does Holden,Mr. let me stand there in the D-zone & watch the puck go in, but I’m great at penetrating the O-zone & scoring the odd goal, just like Kleiner did. The Rangers should have traded Klein 2 years ago when thewy could have got more than a bag of pucks.

    • John B says:

      So Erik Karlsson is a forward? Brett Burns? Letang? Subban? McDonagh? Skjei? Trouba? Barrie? Dougherty? Larrson in Ari? Hedman? Stralman?

      The Rangers could field every single one of them in as a group of six, and there’d be a huge vocal segment of fans who’d complain that they aren’t “gritty” enough, they don’t hit, they don’t block shots.

      Conversely we could field all the so called “real defenseman” like Kris Russell, Girardi, Staal, etc and those same fans would crucify Hank because we couldn’t get out of our own zone and would bleed shots against because they’re “gritty” warriors and they run around and hit people.

      The game has changed. The definition of defense is not the same as it was up to Lockout #1. That era of hockey is over. Within 15 years fighting will be extinct, shot blocking will be phased out, and I see the nets getting 1 to 1.5 inches bigger. The game is now about speed, puck movement and what you do with the puck. The sooner we build to that the faster we’ll remain relevant. Or, we can build to a theory of “defense” from 1990-2000 and become irrelevant. Either way, not my cash intake that results from product they chose.

      • paulronty says:

        Most of those guys you mentioned can defend as well as move the puck smartly, esp. Burns & Doughty who are elite D. Karlsson is a hybrid of sorts, more like a forward playing D & he is a poor defender in his own zone, although he puts up points like a forward. Bobby Orr was the ultimate hybrid because he could do it all, and I haven’t seen a D like that since. Then you exaggerate your argument by using G, Staal & Russell. As a matter of fact G & Staal were really good D-men in their prime, but injuries have taken their toll. In fact, G was a great defenceman for a period of time as he & Mac were impenterable in the D-zone.
        I assume you are a younger man because your narrative about how the game has changed comes from the young generation & is directed at us older guys. You say the game is about speed, puck movement & what you do with the puck, As I’ve said before the game has always been about speed, puck movement & what you do with the puck because that is what the game of hockey is. The greatest teams ever had all those qualities–the 70s Canadians, the 80s Oilers, the Islanders, the Hawks of recent. The outlier was the Broad Street bullies of the 70s, but make no mistake those guys were not plodders, Guys like Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, they were intense, fearsome players. The game is faster because of the evolution of equipment, as are many games like golf, etc. Shot blocking will never be phased out, I don’t know where you get that idea, and the nets should be bigger right now, but the NHL is run by dinosaurs with very little vision. Actually having watched hockey over a span of 65 years, there is no doubt the players skate faster are bigger, but that doesn’t mean the hockey is better in the creative sense. Today’s hockey is like a track meet with the evolution of the stretch pass & the D strategy of chipping it out off the boards, & forwards striving to outrace a pinching D-man.
        Here are two interesting perspectives from two great, retired NHLers:

        • paulronty says:

          impenetrable that should be

        • John B says:

          Girardi’s was great? Wow. Words can not begin to describe. Anyway, I said sarcastically, that there is a segment of RAngers fans that do not view defenseman who drivee offense as real defenseman. You said that would be forwards. I preceded to list multiple defenseman, including two of our own who drive offense.

          To say that the game is exactly the same now as it was even in 2000, is at best an attempt to be dishonest to advance a proven fact. Attempt to clutch and grab to the extent that they did then and it won’t end well. By attempting to strawman arguement it over to my age, which is 100% irrelevant and i won’t engage in because it isn’t irrelevant, further proves that.

          Lastly, the GMs are beginning to devise ways to eliminate shot blocking. From just a few weeks ago: “The GMs brought up concepts that initially wuere suggested years ago that haven’t come to fruition, such as Bob Gainey’s idea of making it illegal for players to block a shot while falling down or sliding on the ice.

          Gainey first made that suggestion at the GM meetings in 2008 when he was with the Montreal Canadiens.

          “At the time, people are like, really?” Treliving said. “Now you look back at it, it had some merit.”” from https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-general-managers-look-to-future/c-287441518

          The game in 1990 wasn’t the same as the early 80s. The 2000s different from the 90s to etc.

        • CTfan says:

          Calling Weasel Bettman a dinosaur is a massive insult to dinosaurs.

        • Walt says:

          As you recall Doc, the game got extremely fast when they did away with the two line passes. The new material sticks has changed the speed of the puck coming at you from the point, or where ever, and the guys are stronger, that’s why they call it evolution!!! Yes, we are dinosaurs, but we had the luxury of seeing some of the greats, Orr being one of them!!!!!!!

        • John B says:

          Since this is awaiting moderation because of the link, I’ll post it again without the link.

          Girardi’s was great? Wow. Words can not begin to describe. Anyway, I said sarcastically, that there is a segment of RAngers fans that do not view defenseman who drivee offense as real defenseman. You said that would be forwards. I preceded to list multiple defenseman, including two of our own who drive offense.

          To say that the game is exactly the same now as it was even in 2000, is at best an attempt to be dishonest to advance a proven fact. Attempt to clutch and grab to the extent that they did then and it won’t end well. By attempting to strawman arguement it over to my age, which is 100% irrelevant and i won’t engage in because it isn’t irrelevant, further proves that.

          Lastly, the GMs are beginning to devise ways to eliminate shot blocking. From just a few weeks ago: “The GMs brought up concepts that initially wuere suggested years ago that haven’t come to fruition, such as Bob Gainey’s idea of making it illegal for players to block a shot while falling down or sliding on the ice.

          Gainey first made that suggestion at the GM meetings in 2008 when he was with the Montreal Canadiens.

          “At the time, people are like, really?” Treliving said. “Now you look back at it, it had some merit.””

          The game in 1990 wasn’t the same as the early 80s. The 2000s different from the 90s to etc.

          • paulronty says:

            I didn’t say the game was EXACTLY the same John, I said the principles you espoused are the same. There are different types of D. Take Brendan Smith, not the flashiest D I’ve ever seen, but he’s been solid so far in the D-zone & plays with some snarl. In Ottawa they play Methot(or at least they used to) with Karlsson because he’s good in the D-zone & not the offensive juggernaut like Karlsson. They don’t all have to be puck moving wizards. The league is concerned about how the game sometimes comes to a standstill because no one is forechecking & the D are just standing there with oodles of time to pass, but no stretch pass available. Teams like Ottawa use the neutral zone trap to stifle offence to great effect.

      • Walt says:

        And they will call it flag hockey!!!!!!!! This would be right up Marv’s ally, he loves noncontact players anyway………….

  3. Peter says:

    I don’t think AV is going to play Clen-Doh! no matter what even though he skates better, outlets better and hits the net regularly with his shots and has been better than Klein in those areas. Clen-Doh!, although improving in the defense zone, is still subject to misadventures there. He is taking the body more and had a string of some good games, but he had a bad one along with the rest of the team the last game he played. AV wants someone better in their own end and Klein is better in the Dzone, so Clen-Doh! Is going to sit when Klein comes back and Kamfur probably will too.

  4. Chris C says:

    You guys are all wrong.when G comes back he will go in for Kampfer.With B Smith here,Klein is the odd man.Klein will be the 7,Kampfer the 8 and Adam C will be 9th on the depth chart.Believe me Klein is not the problem,Hank needs to get healthy and play like the KING.They need to take Glass out,put Grabner & Fast on the 4th line with OL,The 2 kids Vesey & Buch needs to be in the top 9.Personally I think AV gives Vesey too much of the benefit of the doubt..He scored most of his goals back in 2016.I think Buch has a better upside,plus he played in the KHL,while JV was 22 playing against 18-19 year olds.

    • Tom O Hawk says:

      Totally agree. I can’t believe some of the ideas and thoughts I see from fans on here. I seen beauties about Clendenig or should I just call him. bobby Orr now. Crazy stuff

    • paulronty says:

      “They need to take Glass out,put Grabner & Fast on the 4th line with OL,The 2 kids Vesey & Buch needs to be in the top 9.”

      Now that is an astute observation if there ever was one. And for all those crying about Grabner, Zucchie would be perfect with Hayes & Miller. Wasn’t it Dave or somebody that wrote an article about putting people in a position to succeed. Buch should be with Z & Kreider where he was comfortable & played very well. He can communicate with those guys & play relaxed without overthinking the game. Vesey was comfortable with Nash & Stepan as well. It’s like social psychology, where they measured people’s affinity towards each other, and then made teams out of compatibles & got better performance. If I was the Rangers team psychologist(do they even have one?), I would be all over AV about that.

      • Walt says:

        Doc

        That would mean that Marv couldn’t screw around with the line changes every 30 seconds, the makeup of the lines that is!!!!!!!!

  5. jerry maley says:

    SITTING HERE WATCJING CBJ BUST THEIR ASSES ON EVERY SHIFT. UNLIKE THE SOFTSHIRTS WHO PLAY 20 MINUTES EVERY GAME EFFING DISGRACE…ALL THE STATISTICAL BS ABOVE DOESN’T ANSWER THE LACK OF TOTAL EFFORT ON RANGERS PART. AND GET STEPAN AWAY FROM ZUC AND NASH HE’S KILLING THEM FOURTH LINE CENTER WHO SKATES LIKE HE HAS 4 SPEEDS. SLOW STOP NEUTRTAL AND REVERSE. GOD FORBID HE THROW AN EFFIG BODY CHECK.

    • Tom O Hawk says:

      Stepan is killing Zucc’s Nash? With all the struggles he’s had this past month or more he’s still only 3 points from the lead in the team so how is that killing them. I know he’s not fast but he’s smarter then most of the rest and plays much better defensively then them all except Nash. I think you may be going a bit over board on your assessment of Stepan

    • Will says:

      Agreed.
      See ya next year.
      Hopefully without AV.

    • paulronty says:

      That’s because Torts will hold them accountable if they don’t unlike AV who is chewing gum like a man racked with anxiety. Actually chewing gum does help reduce anxiety studies show. I used to chew gum when I was curling competitively.

  6. Richter1994 says:

    Is this the beginning of the end for Kevin Klein?
    March 18, 2017, by Pat

    That happened a month ago.

  7. joe K says:

    Whoever wrote this article better start watching the games closer. Clendening is not better then Kempfer, an Klein has nothing to worry about. Where you guys come up with this stuff. An Tom O Hawk is watching the same game I am. Stepan must go. He is not the skater way to soft an hits no one. We don’t need to spend $6.5 million for a real soft center. Lose him in the expansion draft.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Kempfer is not the one that should come out. G should never go in. There’s the problem.

  8. Robert Skettini says:

    Clenndening isn’t better then anybody. He was good in preseason. A few flashes of good offense when called upon.

    But a LOT of bad defense.

    Kampfer has been solid at the #6, and will be better at #7

  9. Richter1994 says:

    So I’m actually wondering with all these people bashing Clendening, I’m very curious about how they feel about the other D men on the team. Because it’s making me wonder what people are watching. Not only for this year, but the last 3 years.

    • John B says:

      He doesn’t do defenseman things. He doesn’t run around and chase the puck his entire shift. He’s too competent at moving the puck in the other direction. He had one bad game. He’s given up 16 5×5 goals in his time, 25% came in one game where no one showed up, but he was scapegoated.

      I said it earlier, there is a LARGE segement of Ranger fans who are stuck on the notion that a defenseman has to hit people and block shots. That’s not what defense is anymore.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Correct John. As Travis Yost says, show me a “shut down” D man and I’ll show you a D man that can’t skate.

        Fans don’t get it. yeah, Clendening has warts but where are these fans that give the numbskulls that have been deployed in the top 4 a pass game after game? I mean, do people actually see the gaffes they commit time and time again?

        Holden sucks, he really does. It was the points that masked his awful defensive play. Well now the points have stopped. I hope the Knights pick him. Graves would be a better choice.

        McD-Smith
        Skjei-Clendening
        Graves-Holden

        And that’s the best of the bunch.

  10. craig says:

    I think Kampher has adopted to his position pretty well. He seems more smooth in the defensive zone then Clendening, though not as good rushing the puck. Right now, the Rangers need more solid play in their defensive zone, so I would take Kampher over Clendening as AV has.

  11. Peter says:

    Haha, Clen-Doh! Is playing, and having a nice game thus far!

    Oscar is having a huge game.

  12. Joe Walton says:

    Don’t forget – We are getting Shattenkirk in July.