The unsung hero and most underrated player of the New York Rangers this season is without a doubt, defenseman Kevin Klein.
After coming over in a trade with the Nashville Predators, he has certainly made his presence known. By being a silent contributor each night with simple defensive plays and doing the little things to win hockey games, Klein has certainly raised his game to another level this season by adding himself to the scoresheet.
In fact, he’s play has been on such a fantastic run, that head coach Alain Vigneault moved him up into the second line pairing with Marc Staal.
By moving Klein up and replacing Dan Boyle, it has certainly shown to be a smart move by the coach. Boyle’s play has certainly been better as of late by being paired with Matt Hunwick or John Moore on a nightly basis on that third line pairing. Staal and Klein are quickly developing chemistry and being a great second unit for the Rangers.
It is almost safe to say that New York has a top four shutdown defensive group (with McDonagh and Girardi being the first).
Klein is also having a career year, with nine goals and twenty five points in fifty four games. He is also a plus twenty two, which is second on the team to Rick Nash (plus twenty three).
While it takes time to develop chemistry with a new line mate, Staal and Klein compliment each other well and are quickly learning the way they each play the game. At times, both players’ games have slipped and they resulted in turnovers/goals, but lately their games have been solid.
Klein has really shown the coaching staff and his teammates what he is capable of, and when Staal and him are running on all cylinders, they will be an important and complementing pair to McDonagh and Girardi.
Klein has proven to be responsible in his own end (especially penalty killing) and can add to the offensive in clutch moments. Glen Sather found a gem and the Rangers should hold on to him for a long time.