Michael Del Zotto’s tenure with the Rangers, which began with so much promise as a 19-year-old rookie after he was the 20th overall pick in the 2008 draft, ended on Wednesday as he was traded to the Nashville Predators for veteran defenseman Kevin Klein. Klein, 29, is in the first season of a five-year, $14.5 million deal that carries a salary-cap hit of $2.9 million. More importantly to the Rangers, he is a right-handed shot, giving them three along with Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman to balance out their lineup. Del Zotto had been paired with John Moore, who had switched to the right side from his natural left side. Klein’s acquisition will allow Moore to move back to the left and likely paired with Klein. Del Zotto, 23, is due to be a restricted free agent with salary arbitration rights this offseason at the conclusion of a two-year, $5.1 million deal and trade rumors have been surrounding him much of this season. He had two goals and nine assists in 41 games for the Rangers this season and though he’s been in the lineup the past 10 games, coach Alain Vigneault has made him a healthy scratch nine times while using him as a third-pair defenseman. His Toronto-based agents, Don Meehan and Pat Morris reportedly met with Rangers general manager Glen Sather before the Rangers’ 7-1 win over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Jan. 4 to discuss Del Zotto’s future with the franchise amid the trade speculation. Vigneault has been critical of Del Zotto’s ability to safely get the puck out of the Rangers’ zone and, overall, did not get the offensive production he expected.
Del Zotto traded to Predators for Klein
North Jersey | Jan 22