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Nashville Predators sign Kevin Klein to 3-year contract extension

From the Nashville Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Kevin Klein to a three-year, $4.05 million contract that runs from the 2010-11 season through the 2012-13 campaign.

Klein, 25 (12/13/84), is averaging 20:12 per game in 2009-10, an increase of more than 7:30 over last year's average ice time (12:39). It the highest season-to-season increase in the League this campaign. Additionally the Kitchener, Ont., native has logged more than 20 minutes 30 times this season after doing so just twice in 81 career contests prior. The 6-1, 201-pound blueliner has appeared in 48 of Nashville's 49 games this season, and has already tied a career high in assists (8). He is also ranked 21st in the League in blocked shots (93).

Nashville's third selection, 37th overall (second round) in the 2003 Entry Draft, Klein is one of four defensemen from the Predators 2003 draft class currently on the club's roster (along with Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Alexander Sulzer). In 129 career games since 2005-06, Klein has 24 points (6g-18a) and 40 penalty minutes.

Kevin Klein

#8 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators



Dec 13, 1984

2009 - Kevin Klein 48 1 8 9 -8 15 0 0 0 0 41 2.4

Three years at a $1.35 million cap hit sounds quite good for a guy who can expect Top Four duty. While there have been some ups and downs, Klein has taken a step forward this season and plays a variety of roles against solid opposition (highest QualComp among Nashville defense per Behind the Net), all while taking very few penalties. The question on many fans' minds, however, is whether splitting up his pairing with Dan Hamhuis might help both guys out, and whether, as a pending unrestricted free agent, Hamhuis might be a potential trade asset.

How much can we separate the performance of Klein and Hamhuis from their pairing as a duo, however? Let's take a look...

Using one of the wonderful tools at Time On Ice, I've broken down some of the relevant numbers for each of the main defensemen, along with specific data for the Hamhuis/Klein pairing. This covers team-level statistics during Even Strength play only, while the particular player is on the ice:

Goals For Goals Against EV +/- SOG For SOG Against SOG +/- On-Ice EV Save %
Dan Hamhuis 37 40 -3 390 353 +37 .887
Kevin Klein 28 41 -13 356 371 -15 .889
Hamhuis/Klein pairing 19 27 -8 196 180 +16 .850
Shea Weber 38 34 +4 419 424 -5 .920
Ryan Suter 41 31 +10 440 446 -6 .930
Francis Bouillon 18 23 -5 330 411 -81 .944

What jumps out at me here is that the Save % when these two are paired is truly awful, and confirms observations that this duo often blows coverages and gives up nasty scoring chances to the opposition. If their combined On-Ice Save % were a more typical .900, for example, they'd only have 18 Goals Against, and a near break-even Plus/Minus.

What this also tells me is that as much as we all love the effort that Francis Bouillon has brought to the table, giving up 4 shots for every one your team takes when you're out there is a dangerous business, and that his .944 On-Ice Save % is too good to be true. I'm all in favor of juggling the defensive pairings at this point, frankly.