Dan Girardi - What a roller coaster year Girardi just completed. He looked totally lost at the beginning of the season (like several Blueshirts), but quickly turned around his game and played like his old self during the second-half. Management was convinced that Girardi’s early-season hiccups were an anomaly and rewarded him with a six-year, $33 million contract, essentially choosing Girardi over captain Ryan Callahan. But Girardi again looked like a liability once the playoffs started, culminating in his train wreck performance (mixed with a healthy share of bad luck) during the Stanley Cup Final that left many fans calling for a trade. Girardi had no more than a dislocated finger during the playoffs, so his pylon-like play should raise eyebrows given the substantial financial commitment New York made to him just a few months prior. Nevertheless, Girardi has been a tremendous player for the Rangers during his eight-year career, and, just as Brad Richards did at the start of this year, Girardi seems likely to bounce-back from this most recent embarrassment in a big way. Grade: B-
Anton Stralman - For almost his entire tenure in blue, Stralman was the most underappreciated player on the team. But thanks to his particularly stellar play during the postseason and some gushing comments from talking heads and bloggers alike, Stralman is now viewed as a must-keep player by many fans. Advanced metrics make Stralman look like a true stud, but he’s been a very good second-pairing defender, not necessarily a $5 million a year blueliner. Stralman contributes next to nothing offensively – though some argue that his possession metrics suggest he was a victim of bad luck and believe Stralman actually does far more to help the attack than his point total indicates. Stralman has certainly emerged as a very good defender, but he seems like a guy that was underrated for so long, he’s now overrated. Grade: A-
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If a trade was judged purely on previous production there would have been a lot more complaints the day the Rangers traded away Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein. Luckily, the Ranger fan base is (on the whole) more informed than that.
Looking back at Glen Sather’s acquisition of Kevin Klein, it would be easy to assume Sather gave up on Del Zotto (which was true to an extent) but a more appropriate way of looking at it would be how Sather was able to BETTER balance his defense when he brought Klein on board.
While Klein’s 6 points, +4 rating and 36 hits are not jaw dropping numbers the good ol’ fashioned eye test helps to review his game. Klein has generally impressed with his decision making and ability to make a solid defensive play consistently. His positioning has been consistently good and his ability under pressure has been strong. Klein has no problem taking a hit to make a play and has been a solid addition for the Rangers. No longer do Ranger fans hold their collective breath like they did when Del Zotto wandered around his own zone.
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What does the future hold for McIlrath? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
When the Rangers made their Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein swap with the Predators, they gave up on a frustrating offensive talent and went with the less able but more reliable stay at home, physical type. What they also did was commit to a player whose size and physical ability is likely to be on the Rangers blue line for several seasons. They also committed to someone that inadvertently may be a road block for one of the franchise’s key draft picks, Dylan McIlrath.
While Klein doesn’t possess the same potential snarl or size as McIlrath, the additional four years (at $2.9 million per year) means the Rangers have solidified their third pairing with the type of player they’ve needed for what seems like generations. Is there still room for McIlrath? With his skating ability still his biggest question mark, Mcllrath’s future is at least partly dependent with how Klein acclimatises to New York, with the initial solid performances promising.
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Derek Dorsett could be a difference maker (Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)
The Rangers facd the toughest possible opponent tonight. When an elite team like the Blues head to town fresh off a mauling, they will be conscious of stopping the rot before it starts. This will be a great benchmark game for the Rangers. Can they go toe to toe with a contender? Can they put behind them their own disappointing game? Tonight’s game is the definition of a character test.
Kevin Klein’s arrival meant the end of Michael Del Zotto, but does it also signal the end of Anton Stralman? Stralman is reported to be looking for $3 million plus at season’s end, despite being distinctly average for the most of this year. Would the Rangers be willing to lock up what are essentially two third pair guys for what would be $3 million each?
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Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
As the dust settles after the trade of Michael Del Zotto, there were a lot of thoughts that ran through my head. There was a lot to process in this trade, and now that it’s been a day since the trade, I find myself thinking a little more level-headed.
First and foremost, this is a trade that confirms the Rangers are in win-now mode. If the Henrik Lundqvist extension wasn’t evidence enough, then this is. Del Zotto is a 23-year-old defenseman with a pair of 40 point (pace) seasons under his belt and what seems to be great potential. Klein is a 29-year-old defenseman who plays an incredibly physical game, but has also peaked. This is a trade that sacrifices potential long-term success (MDZ) for short-term needs (Klein).
Speaking of those short-term needs, Klein kills two birds with one stone. We had been wondering where the physicality and toughness on the blue line would come from, and Klein is just that. He is a rugged (6’1, 200 lbs) defensive defenseman that plays very disciplined hockey (21 PIMs) while dishing out punishment. He’s the guy that dropped Derek Dorsett at MSG when Nashville came to town. Slats compared him to Mike Sauer, and although I haven’t seen much of Klein, the comparison is pretty accurate.
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Per Darren Dreger, the Rangers have traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Kevin Klein, a 29-year-old right-handed defenseman, has a line of 1-2-3 in 47 games with the Preds. His peripherals aren’t spectacular (44% Corsi, -4.4% relative Corsi, 46.7% O/D St%, 28.0% ToTm%QoC) either.
Comparatively, MDZ had 2-9-11 in 42 games with better puck possession and much higher offensive zone starts (51.1% Corsi, -1.6% relative, 60.3% O/D St%, 27.8% ToTm%QoC). Klein is signed for four more years beyond this one at $2.9 milllion, while Del Zotto was set to be an RFA after the season ends.
Honestly, MDZ didn’t really get a fair shake in New York after his rough sophomore season and really needed a change of scenery. That said, the trade gives the Rangers a much-needed right handed shot on the third pairing to go with John Moore. MDZ was certainly a frustrating player to watch, and Klein will be a reliable –but unspectacular– third pairing guy.
According to Nashville bloggers section303.com, Klein was a huge part of the defense corps in Nashville and will be missed.
Suit’s Scouting Report on Klein:
I think Klein is a solid pickup. He kills penalties, blocks a lot of shots, and he isn’t afraid to mix it up. I think he brings some sorely needed grit to the bottom four pairings, and you all know what I thought about needing another right-handed shot.
Could Sather have gotten more for MDZ than a gritty stay-at-home guy? Maybe in another season, but his value has plummeted and ultimately we’re filling a big need. Think of this as an overdue replacement for Sauer and your expectations won’t be disappointed. Hopefully he’ll fit the system.