Rangers Trade Del Zotto to Nashville for Kevin Klein

Michael Del Zotto Rangers
(Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)

The Rangers parted ways with defenseman Michael Del Zotto on Wednesday in a one-for-one trade that sent Del Zotto to the Nashville Predators in exchange for veteran defenseman Kevin Klein. The trade comes after months of speculation concerning Del Zotto’s future in New York.

Del Zotto played 42 games with the Rangers this season. He spent much of the start of the season watching games from the press box as a healthy scratch, as coach Alain Vigneault was experimenting with his team and sidelining different players in search of a winning lineup. Between the scratches and his subpar play, Del Zotto’s future with the team was uncertain from the start of the season. He has been struggling to produce offensively, and has looked shaky in his own end of the ice for some time now. He has tallied 11 points with the Rangers this season, with 2 goals and 9 assists. His inconsistent play in recent years had caused some to start wondering not if he would be traded, but when.

While the Rangers could no longer spend time waiting for Del Zotto to find his game, the Predators must figure that his game is not lost forever. The Preds know that they are getting a young blueliner with a lot of offensive upside. Del Zotto has the ability to be a puck-moving defenseman, a power play specialist. He is a smooth skater who can jump into odd man rushes and create scoring opportunities. He has a lot of potential, but the reality is that he was no longer reaching his true potential, or meeting expectations, in New York. Perhaps a new city and change in scenery will do Del Zotto good.

Welcome Kevin Klein

In Kevin Klein, the Rangers have acquired a defenseman whose game is more well-known (and consistent) in the eyes of Rangers management. While Klein played in the western conference, coach Vigneault had the opportunity to see him play throughout the regular season and post-season. The 29 year old adds another layer of stability to the blueline, along with a much needed right-handed shot that will replace Del Zotto’s left.


Klein’s move from The Music City to The Big Apple is the first he will make in his career. He was drafted by the Predators in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft, and played five full seasons with the Predators before the trade. While in Nashville he had the opportunity to watch from ice level when Shea Weber and Ryan Suter played together and formed one of the top defensive pairings in the league. He has seen rookie Seth Jones develop into a true NHL defenseman. He has played in front of an elite goaltender in Pekka Rinne. Safe to say, through observation and experience, he knows how to play defense.

In addition to his right-handed shot, strength, and smarts, Klein is not afraid to drop the gloves. He is a welcome addition to a team in need of another physical player who will not shy away from a spirited bout when the time is right.

Another plus-side of Klein’s play is his history of success in the playoffs. He has played in 28 playoff games over the course of three post-season runs with the Predators, posting 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in those games with one game-winning-goal. In fact, Detroit Red Wings fans may remember Klein for his stellar play at both ends of the ice in game 3 of the western conference semi-final matchup between the Red Wings and Predators in 2012.

In the same playoff game, Klein demonstrated his ability to play strong defense:

And his ability to contribute offensively:

Klein will fit in well with the Rangers defensive system, with the ability to jump into plays and pose an offensive threat while also playing solid, smart hockey in his own end of the rink. By and large, this straight-up trade that exchanged D-man for D-man looks to be one that will work out well for both teams.