As the offseason has officially begun the big news from the New York Rangers is that Kevin Klein is likely to retire.
Well, this came out of left field. Larry Brooks of the New York Post has reported that individuals close to the situation have confirmed that Kevin Klein is likely to retire and continue his hockey playing in Europe. He reports that although no official statement has been released, Klein hosted a going away party over this past weekend.
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The 32-year-old right handed defenseman was a staple on the blueline after being acquired by the New York Rangers from the Nashville Predators in the 2013-14 season for Michael Del Zotto. His tenure with the Rangers had its ups and downs with this past season being rock bottom.
Klein has battled lower back injuries for the past two seasons and was never able to perform to his best abilities. This season he played in 60 games, most of those not at 100%, and was a “healthy” scratch from all but one playoff game.
This news adds questions marks to the New York Rangers offseason plan. Losing a right handed defenseman puts more pressure on GM Jeff Gorton to capture a replacement for Klein. More importantly it releases the $2.9 million dollar cap hit that comes with his contract. Kevin Shattenkirk anyone?
The expansion draft situation is virtually a wash. Klein would have been exposed by the New York Rangers, but not likely selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights. With Klein leaving, Marc Staal or Dan Girardi on their way out, and Holden a potential selection by Vegas the defense will have to be completely revamped. Sounds pretty good right?
This news is likely the first domino to fall in what will become a crazy whirlwind offseason for the New York Rangers. Buckle up those seatbelts. It should be a fun ride.