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Rangers-Predators Deal: Del Zotto, Klein...Swapping Cities

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From NHL.com




I've heard the rumors often enough "Del Zotto is on the block", but I honestly thought that not only would he go to offensive oriented team, but he would go for MORE than just a steady (if somewhat standard) stay-at-home defenseman.


That said, I have a couple thoughts on this.


The Alain Vigneault effect is in full transformation mode.

It was no secret that since Vigneault's and Tortorella's coaching style are vastly different, that the team each coaches would have to suit them, their systems, and their personalities. That, of course, usually means big changes in personnel.


Del Zotto, like many offense oriented D-men, WILL give up scoring chances the other way. That is just a given when you have defensemen of his ilk...see Erik Karlsson, Dan Boyle, Mike Green, and Brent Burns when he was a D-man with both Minnesota and San Jose, before becoming a winger.

Problem in NY for Del Zotto was, Vigneault seems to be transforming the forward lines into more all out offense (which is a good thing actually), which means, he simply cannot have D-men like Del Zotto being a defensive liability.


Under the former coach, perhaps it didn't stick out so much (not that Del Zotto got a ton of time under Torts), because the overall team was more defensive minded. Also, if you are going to have a D-man like Del Zotto play lots of offense, he at least best put up some crazy numbers, right? Well, that wasn't happening, for whatever reason, in New York.

Thus why I believe he became and expendable, yet sought after by others, piece of the Rangers puzzle.

Not to mention that as a soon-to-be RFA, Del Zotto's financial asking price may be more than what the Rangers would be willing to give, taking into account what he provides vs. what he has given away with his time in New York.

Enter Kevin Klein from the Predators.


Klein will look to provide the Rangers a stable presense at their blue line while their forwards are tasked to do more offensive pressuring. I am sure goalie Henrik Lundquist will appreciate having a steady, sturdy D-man nearby him almost all of the time, as it should make his job a bit easier as well.

Also doesn't hurt any that Klein is under team control for the next 4 seasons after this one, at a VERY reasonable 2.5'ish mil per rate.


Nashville. A team that just seems to churn out defenseman after defenseman year after year.

Problem with their D-men usually is, they are all of the, well, DEFENSE, mentality.

A natural and logical thing to be sure, however, the Preds as a franchise, simply need offense...period.


I believe the team has enough defense, both in the form of their D-men and forwards, that they can afford to have a guy go nuts from the blue line, like Del Zotto no doubt will.

Del Zotto will certainly  have his opportunity to shine, even in a defense-first system like Nashville, simply because the Preds will most likely WANT him to do what he does.

At only 23 years old, the ceiling is still quite high for the former Ranger D-man, and the Predators will live with his defensive liabilities, as they are pretty sure they can cover that up most of the time with their overall team defense and goaltending...well, with Pekka Rinne in net they could on the goaltending, but that is a whole other topic for another thread.


Bottom line here is, initially, it looks as if Nashville made out better here talent-wise, but the Rangers made out better financially.

Like any other trade, it will take time to see who really did better here (or both accomplished what they wanted?), but still, somehow, I just got the feeling that if the Rangers were going to unload Del Zotto, that they probably could have gotten more for him then they did here....no offense to Kevin Klein.


Any other thoughts from the HF crowd?

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Great analysis. You beat me to it, lol I especially agree that Lundquist has to be the happiest player on the ice from this trade.


  That said, I am really surprised the Rangers were unable to acquire more for Del Zotto and if I had to pick a winner right now in the deal it would have to be Predators. No offense to Klein, a solid 2nd or 3rd pair presence but Del Zotto has already at a very young age shown himself to have a certain offensive acumen from the blue line. Colorado for one could have used him and it would appear at first glance they could have given more than a good defensive d-man. Same with the Wings. I love the deal from the view of the Predators, they now have Josi, Jones, Weber and Del Zotto capable of moving the puck from the blue line, it seems to be the final piece for them back there and is another small market attempt to stay competitive this year, same as the pickup of Dubnyk. Frankly I am a bit disappointed for the Rangers in what they got back  but my days of trying to figure out what Slats is doing are long behind me.

  Essentially TFG I think I agree with every single thing you said. 

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@yave1964  The Preds now have Weber, Josi, Jones, Del Zotto and Ellis....all of them not known for defense except Weber. This tells me the Preds are not done dealing. I don't see there being room for all of them, to many pp type guys, not enough grit, except Weber of course, again.


 The NYR were shopping him for quite a while, the fact they could only get a 5-6 defensive type speaks volumes. I'm thinking a lot of GM's agree with my previous statements, there is a real good chance Del Zotto might be out of hockey a few years from now. His offense does not make up for the total disregard for defense. He's lost in his own end, keeps making the same mistakes over and over, and gets muscled off the puck way to easily. The telling moment(s) was in last years playoffs, when the NYR either refused to dress him, or had him as a 7th d-man. Torts just did not trust him when it mattered the most.


 I see Josi and Jones as having more upside than Del Zotto, with Ellis about even right now. There is not room for all these guys, more Preds moves to come I'd say. Of course Jones is going nowhere, and I doubt they re-flip Del Zotto so that leaves Josi and Ellis who might be on the way out.

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Another option, if Del Zotto really doesn't bring his defensive game up, is to turn him into a full blown winger.


That seems to be a small, but growing trend in the NHL....guys who can't quite cut it as a D-man being put to play wing.

I mean, Del Zotto is all about moving forward and not looking behind him anyways.


Worked pretty well thus far with Brent Burns in SJ, they talked about doing that with Dustin Byfuglien, and John Scott, though not a real hockey player ;)  , has been put as a 4th line winger as well.

I am sure there are others.


Think Nashville would try that with MDZ if they find he can't quite cut it as a D-man?

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@TropicalFruitGirl26  Well, you kinda hit the nail on the head saying he's a bit to small. The big thing Buff, Burns and similar players who have made the switch have in common is the ability to drive the net strong and maintain possession or separate the opposition from the puck. Del Zotto does none of this. Not saying it's impossible, but he'd have to put on some serious muscle and gain some tenacity. He's got half the battle won, a God given great set of wheels, so who knows? 

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Good analysis and I also think the deal was good for both teams.  I'd give the extra props to the Rangers though, they struggled last season with Staal's injury as they never really replaced Rosival, imo.  I think the Rangers will win more games with Klein's defensive play than the Predators will offensively with Del Zotto.  Yet I do think Del Zotto will help generate some scoring for Predators, just not enough to make as big of a difference.

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Well, guys, both should be making their debuts with their new teams tonight.


Del Zotto gets to face his a fast moving Vancouver Canucks team as his first game with the Preds.

Would have been cool to see him opposite his former coach, but Torts needed to sit in the corner for a bit...  :)


Meanwhile, Kevin Klein gets to face an all-too-familiar opponent, the meat grinder known as the St. Louis Blues.

And after that embarrassment by the NJ Devils, the Blues will be looking to exact some serious payback...Klein and his D best be ready for some serious forechecking.

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