Jan 22, 2014
With Kevin Klein traded to the New York Rangers for Michael Del Zotto, Nashville’s defense lost a stay-at-home defenseman that’s been with the team near a decade in exchange for an offensive defenseman who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Is this a win or a loss for Nashville? Personally, there is definitely more than meets the eye with this trade.
Klein, who was part of the 2003 Entry Draft class for the Predators that also produced Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Alexander Sulzer, is a right-handed shot, a true “defensive defenseman”, and has a contract signed through the 2017-2018 season. Del Zotto, on the other hand, is a left-handed shot, an “offensive defenseman”, and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Klein’s departure from the Predators gives Nashville a balance on the top four of their blueline with Shea Weber and Seth Jones being right-handed shots and Roman Josi being a left-handed shot.
Balance is crucial for a Nashville team that had initial problems finding balance with Jones. Now with Del Zotto in the mix, that balance is complete. What does that do to Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, and Victor Bartley? Nothing. Nashville’s third defensive pairing will be fluid, but that’s been the case for quite some time with this franchise. Their top four took a big hit with the loss of Ryan Suter, but if Del Zotto can develop as the Predators are hoping he can, Nashville could easily come out on top of this trade. With Predators assistant coach Phil Housley in the mix, it could turn Del Zotto into a dynamic defenseman.
The Predators average age on defense drops to 23.4 years old after the trade, but don’t let the age fool you. Del Zotto has plenty of experience with the New York Rangers and Nashville’s current youthful defensive corp is coming along very well, even though the team isn’t where they intended to be at this point in the season.
Klein’s departure from the Predators, a veteran of over 400 NHL games, will be felt, there’s no question of that. Will Del Zotto shore up Nashville’s blue line. Not initially, no, but he has a chance to be a really key piece of the puzzle for the Predators if he so chooses to be.
Having Weber, Josi, Jones, and possibly Del Zotto locked up long term? That’s a strong defensive top four, in my opinion.
Are the Predators done? On a completely different note, I don’t think that Nashville is finished trading. As most know, once one domino falls, so do the rest. If the Predators are looking to make any more trades, my feeling is they’ll happen sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit: Kristen Jerkins