After 12 seasons in the NHL, Kevin Klein officially announced his retirement from the league this morning.
New York Rangers Defenseman Kevin Klein Officially Retires from NHL
As speculated, veteran defenseman Kevin Klein will no longer suit up for the Blueshirts blue line come fall. A 2003 Nashville Predators draft pick, Klein spent the majority of his professional career with Predators. He came to the New York Rangers in a 2013 trade for Michael Del Zotto. The right-side D-man played an integral part in the Rangers’ 2014 Stanley Cup Final run.
“I would like to thank both the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers organizations for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing in the NHL,” Klein said in a statement released by the Rangers. “Thank you to the fans of both cities for their appreciation. I couldn’t have been happier to play in front of you. I will miss all the friends I’ve made along the way, from the staff to the guys I’ve played with.”
Despite being sidelined with back spasms several games last season, Klein earned 14 points, including three goals in 60 games played. After being eliminated from the post-season after two rounds, Klein made it clear to Rangers’ management that he was strongly considering retirement. Klein played 627 games earning 38 goals and 154 points throughout his NHL tenure.
What’s Next for the Blueshirts
Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton has been hard at work filling the gaps in the Blueshirts blue line, including Klein’s spot on the right. Throughout the draft and free agency, Gorton fist acquired right-sided Anthony DeAngelo from the Arizona Coyotes. Shortly after he re-signed Brendan Smith and scored big with the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk, filling the right side completely.
With Klein’s retirement, the Rangers free up approximately $2.9 million in additional cap space. The Rangers need to be thoughtful about distributing their dollar signs as October approaches. Since trading Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona, the Rangers have put plugs in their places. However, those seem to be only temporary. Most desirable centers are off the table now so the intelligent move for the Rangers is upping Mika Zibanejad‘s salary. Zibanejad filed for salary arbitration and New York can’t afford to lose the Scandinavian center.