New York Rangers trade upside for stability

Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers

New York Rangers defenceman Michael Del Zotto. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After months of rumour circulation regarding New York Rangers defenceman Michael Del Zotto’s trade status, the Blueshirts have finally shipped the 2008 first round pick to the Nashville Predators for defenceman Kevin Klein.

Kevin Klein: he’s the model of consistency, reliability, defensive acumen. Kevin Klein is a breath of fresh air in a league that is over-runned by twenty-something-year-old alleged puck movers trying to find their way. Kevin Klein is a defence first, stay-at-home blueliner with experience, and a thorough understanding of the concept: make the smart play, every time.

Kevin Klein will never wow you with offensive flair and finesse like Michael Del Zotto might, but then again, Michael Del Zotto hasn’t exactly figured out the defensive side of the game the way Klein has. Less flash isn’t always a bad thing.

Who wins this deal? Is it the Boston Bruins? It might be, because now the New York Rangers might be more comfortable taking that juicy offer Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli may have thrown on the table for defenceman Dan Girardi. Just speculation on my part.

Who actually wins this deal? The Predators win this deal. Upside is more valuable than stability, UNLESS, you’re real close to winning a championship. The Rangers probably aren’t real close to a Stanley Cup title; but you never know; the East is wide open if the Bruins have an off-playoff and the Penguins continue to cling to core players who haven’t had playoff success in half a decade (not talking about Crosby/Malkin).

In acquiring Michael Del Zotto the Nashville Predators – an organization that is a top tier college for defencemen – will insulate, isolate, and re-invigorate the promising puck-mover’s career. The Predators have a way with defencemen.

As is so usually the case when a team finally trades that young player who never quite found his way – that player, in this case Michael Del Zotto – often excels in their new environment. Look no further than the Philadelphia Flyers for evidence of this. The Flyers have a tendency to trade young players, thus, several examples of young player gets traded then becomes really good exist in Flyers history.

John Leclair: traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Flyers in February of ’95 – two years after playing a prominent role in the Habs’ 1993 Stanley Cup title. He joins the Flyers and becomes a superstar scoring fifty-plus in his first three full seasons in Philly.

But the Flyers have made their bad moves too (Sharp, Williams, JVR) – a different story for a different day. However, I imagine the Rangers will one day regret the trading of MDZ.

What has the NHL come to when a promising young player is traded for a good contract? These are financially aware times. Sather has seven UFAs to sign this summer. Today’s trade frees up a little bit of cap room for the Rangers’ GM moving forward. And there is stability in Klein’s contract; a valuable commodity this day and age. Glen Sather told the New York Post:

“Having a player of [Klein’s] caliber and experience under contract until he’s 34 makes a lot of sense to us, especially with the market and the way it’s going and seemingly the way people think it’s going to go. It made a lot of sense from a hockey point of view and financial point of view”

Quote courtesy of the New York Post. Read full article here.

The Rangers can take solace in the fact they have found a convenient replacement on the right-side in Kevin Klein. In the short term, this deal may even make the Rangers a better team. And with Ryan McDonagh’s development into one of the best defenceman in the league, maybe there is no room for Del Zotto in Manhattan. It’s not like he’s challenging the Karlssons and Subbans of the world for offensive defenceman of the year.