Rangers’ Klein Deserves a Little Credit

The majority of discussion surrounding the New York Rangers defence focusses on one of two subjects – how bad Dan Girardi is, or how good Keith Yandle is (and why doesn’t Alain Vigneault use him more?)

Periodically Ryan McDonagh receives praise while Marc Staal occasionally finds himself in the cross hairs, but little is said of Kevin Klein, despite the 31-year olds relative versatility.

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The Ontario native has bounced around the Rangers’ line up this term, spending the majority of his time with Staal, but also spending significant time with Yandle and McDonagh – making each a little better, at least in a defensive sense.

Perhaps that is why Klein flies under the radar somewhat though. He is a man of inches rather than miles.

The former Nashville Predators doesn’t exactly ‘wow’ you with numbers. With a -5.00% ZSO%Rel (Fraction of Offensive vs Defensive Zone Starts, Relative), Klein has a moderate 49.45% Corsi For and just 5 goals and 12 points to his name in 46 games this season, following a career high 9 goals and 26 points last year.

But Klein is second among Rangers defencemen in Corsi For Percentage Relative, second in goals against per 60 and leads the clubs blue liners in average time on ice at even strength.

Even Strength 5v5
Rk Player GP TOI CF% Rel ▾ GF/60 GA/60
1 Keith Yandle 59 17:14 4.2 2.5 1.9
2 Kevin Klein 46 17:37 1.9 2.8 1.7
3 Ryan McDonagh 54 17:26 1.7 3.4 2.4
4 Dan Boyle 52 16:03 0.7 3.0 2.5
6 Dylan McIlrath 27 13:29 -1.8 2.3 1.3
7 Marc Staal 58 17:30 -5.1 2.5 2.2
8 Dan Girardi 53 17:13 -7.3 2.9 1.9
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2016.

‘Note’ – there may be a small discrepancy here, as War on Ice shows Marc Staal as the leader in average ice time among Rangers defencemen, 16.93 to Klein’s 16.91, but the former Toronto St. Michael’s Majors D man remains a solid performer for a Rangers team oft criticised for it’s poor possession play.

Perhaps Klein’s greatest strength is that ability to be moved around the line up and still not look out of place. To play top pair minutes one week, as he is currently, to third pair the next without missing a beat.

It’s not easy being an ‘every man’ for any team, but Klein appears to be one of the few who manages.

Signed for two more years with a not unreasonable $2.9 million cap hit, Klein is that kind of utility defenceman every team covets, but few seem to be able to find.

And on a team that frequently laments its defenceman, or their usage, that kind of ability seems worthy of a little praise.

All statistics are 5v5 even strength unless otherwise stated

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on February 22, 2016, in Hockey, New York Rangers, NHL and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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