The Nashville Predators and New York Rangers made a defensive swap Wednesday afternoon, prior to Thursday night's match in Vancouver against the Canucks. Nashville has acquired Michael Del Zotto from New York in exchange for Kevin Klein.
Del Zotto, 23, stands at 6'0", 195 lbs and has 292 career NHL games under his belt. So far this season in 42 games, Del Zotto has 2 goals, 9 assists and a -5 rating. Del Zotto found himself in Rangers' head coach Alain Vigneault's doghouse as of late, being a scratch as of late.
The acquisition of Del Zotto will complement the right handed shooters. Del Zotto, a lefty, replaced Klein, a righty, and could be paired with Ryan Ellis or Seth Jones. Trading for Del Zotto could actually be so Ellis and Jones can have a comfortable defense partner.
The 20th overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft will be available for Barry Trotz against the Canucks.
“Michael gives us another young, gifted left-handed shooting defenseman with significant offensive upside,” David Poile said in a press release. “We look forward to his presence on our already talented young blue line, further balancing our defensive corps.”
Poile on how he'll fit it:
"A lot of our offense comes from our defense and Del Zotto should slide right in." (Cellblock 303)
"A lot of our offense comes from our defense and Del Zotto should slide right in." (Predators)
From our friends at NYRangersBlog.com…
On Del Zotto:
"he's had a couple of interesting years…it didn't work out the way we planned." (Gross)
Alain Vigneault added this on Del Zotto:
"Michael was alright, played some good hockey. I was expecting a little more offensively … Lately he had been better." (Leonard)
If you were like me and really disliking this trade because Klein had to leave, you are not alone.
Klein, 29, has been the second most reliable defenseman on the Predators' roster, just behind captain Shea Weber. The 6'1", 199 lbs will do wonders in the Big Apple with an opportunity to expand his game.
For those who are unfamiliar with his game, Klein is not a risk and plays smart. His penalty killing abilities are on point. On most nights, Klein can log around 18 minutes, even as high as 24 on occasion. When an offensive opportunity presents itself to Klein, he isn't shy in taking advantage of it. Also, his play in the defensive end can be classified as "gritty", but gritty usually means physical. And I woud not classify Klein as physical, but he can be when he feels it is good opportunity to force a turnover. In
In my opinion, Klein may be the best 2nd line defenseman in the league.
However, Del Zotto will bring an offensive presence to the defense core, which is something Klein rarely brought. Klein has just 1 goal, 2 assists and is a -11 in 47 games.
After letting go of Matt Hendricks' four-year contract last week in exchange for Devan Dubnyk, it appears David Poile is unloading any contract he doesn't want to be stuck with any long-term contract. Klein, who was signed to a five-year deal worth $2.9 million annually this past summer, means that Dan Girardi or Anton Stralman's careers in MSG may be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, Poile has stated he wants to keep Del Zotto by signing him to a long-term contract. Del Zotto will be a restricted free agent and has arbitration rights this summer. Currently, he is set to make a $2.55 million cap hit. The trade will free up money for Poile to spend on potentially a scorer (?) prior to the trade deadline.