32-Year-Old Defenseman – New York Rangers
Kevin Klein Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $14.5 million extension with Nashville in September of 2012.
Klein (back) is slated to return to the lineup Friday against the Penguins after missing Tuesday's game against the Sharks, the Rangers' official site reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Klein shocked the hockey world with an offensive breakout in 2014-15, setting career highs with nine goals (more than he'd scored in any other two seasons of his career combined) and 26 points to go with a sparkling plus-24 rating, making him a fantasy darling off the waiver wire. He was a darling to Rangers fans, too, as four of those goals proved to be game-winners, and if not for the broken arm he suffered down the stretch, Klein would almost certainly have cleared double-digit goals and 30-plus points. That said, the 30-year-old blueliner isn't a great bet to keep finding twine in the new campaign -- last year's 11.8 shooting percentage was more than double his career average, and he's still stuck on the Rangers' third defensive pairing with no expectation of power-play minutes. However, he did show both a much-improved shot and the willingness to use it, and by the end of last season, the coaching staff started letting Klein pinch deep into the offensive zone fairly often. Don't draft him with the expectation of last season's goal-scoring, but Klein should be a serviceable back-end defenseman, particularly in leagues that count hits and blocks.
Of the organization's acquisitions last season, the 29-year-old Kitchener native will probably remain the most overlooked. Received in a trade for the slumping Michael Del Zotto, the right-handed Klein quietly filled a void and solidified head coach Alain Vigneault's third defensive pairing. Although his exit from Nashville certainly helped clean up his minus-11 rating through 47 games, he's never going to be accused of pitching in offensively and will spend most of the fantasy season in the free agent pool. Should an injury to one or more of the team's right-handed defenseman occur, Klein could certainly see his fantasy status change, but it's not very likely.
Klein is a workhorse blueliner who eats a lot of minutes (third on the Preds in time-on-ice last year with 20:25 per game), but is more of a stay-at-home type whose specialties are killing penalties and blocking shots. That said, he can still contribute a little on the score sheet (53 points over the past three season), so he could be worth a look in deeper formats in the later rounds of your fantasy drafts.
Despite posting a career-high 21 points in 66 games last season, Klein was often overlooked as an important part of the Predators defense – not surprising when you play alongside the likes of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. However, Klein led the team with 151 blocked shots last season and was also strong in the playoffs with four points in 10 games – more than Weber and the same number as Suter. Klein also plays on Nashville’s top penalty killing unit and he stays out of the box, as evidenced by his four penalty minutes last season. With Suter now plying his trade in Minnesota, Klein may see an opportunity for an even bigger role this season.
Klein had a career year last season with two goals and 16 helpers, averaging over 20 minutes per night for the Preds. However, he is regarded as more of a stay-at-home defenseman rather than a scorer. His value lies in his ability to kill penalties and block shots, two stat categories that are not rewarded in the majority of fantasy leagues.
The good news is, Klein averaged 19:55 in ice time last season, an increase of more than seven minutes per game over last year's average (12:39). Unfortunately, Klein's offensive totals (1G, 10A) didn't see the same kind of jump, which isn't surprising considering he is more of a stay-at-home type of defenseman who is counted on more for keeping the puck out of his own net, rather than putting it in the other team's. He also had a team-worst minus-15 rating last year, which doesn't add to his fantasy attractiveness. Unless you're in a specialty league that awards for blocked shots (he led the team with 147 last season), Klein is a guy you want to stay away from.
Klein saw his first significant action in the NHL last season, playing 63 games and scoring 12 points. He's only 24, so there is still room for improvement for Klein. However, with the defensive talent that Nashville has, getting power play time is pretty unlikely and he probably won't be able to make significant contributions this season.
Klein was the odd-man-out in Nashville's defense corps last season. He appeared in only 13 games. Hopefully, that will change in 2008-09. Klein should have no problem nailing down a roster spot this season and playing his first full season with the Predators. His minor league resume suggests that a 25 to 30-point campaign is entirely possible.
Klein has been trying to secure a full-time roster spot with the Predators for the last couple seasons. He has managed to play a handful of games only in a relief role. Klein is a solid defenseman with decent offensive skills but the crowded blue line in Nashville will likely relegate him to another season of play at Milwaukee of the AHL.
Klein played in one NHL game last season during some injury relief for the Predators. We expect Klein to spend the full 2006-07 season at AHL affiliate Milwaukee and to only be possibly called upon for injury relief duty for the Predators this season.
Second-round choice in 2003 is still learning the pro game, but has shown flashes of his talent in the past -- including a tremendous 10 goal, 21 point effort for Guelph in the OHL playoffs the year he was drafted. He's probably a few seasons away from the NHL, however.