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When Denis Grebeshkov returns, should the Nashville Predators scratch Kevin Klein?

Yesterday I asked the question on Twitter - with the impending return of defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (who has resumed skating), should Cody Franson keep his lineup spot over Kevin Klein? Today I thought I'd look at the subject a bit further. Klein was just signed to a 3-year extension, but has arguably regressed, while Franson has performed above and beyond expectations in the situations Barry Trotz has placed him in.

Continue below for more, and let us know your opinion in the comments...

In this corner, standing 6'1 from Kitchener, Ontario...

2009 - Kevin Klein 72 1 10 11 -12 27 0 0 0 0 58 1.7

There's no question that Klein is a talented player, but this season has been a rough ride. He has the lowest +/- on the team (in contrast to Franson, who has the highest), and it seems as if he's out there for most bad goals against. I understand that Coach Trotz plays him against the toughest competition, but for someone who David Poile recently entrusted with a contract extension, the Predators need more out of him. It would be one thing if he contributed more on offense, but no dice. The majority of Klein's problems tend to stem from either a) getting caught out of position and overcompensating or b) attempting to play the puck instead of the body. Though he spent most of the season paired with Dan Hamhuis, he's been playing with Francis Bouillon the last handful of games and to his credit, has performed better.

In the other corner, at 6'4, from Salmon Arm, British Columbia...

2009 - Cody Franson 52 6 13 19 14 16 1 0 3 0 78 7.7

If it weren't for Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist, Cody Franson would be running away with the most surprising player mantle for the Predators. One wonders if he had played played all year, instead of bouncing back and forth from the AHL, if he would be in consideration for the Calder Trophy. As it stands, he's played well and even above his head in many games. Franson (currently nickname-less, which needs to be remedied) has proven capable of running an effective NHL power play, and is never shy of pulling the trigger on his big shot. In the limited high-pressure defensive situations he's been placed in, Franson has been up to the task. He's shown good adaptability when it comes to defensive partners, having played with multiple players over the course of the year.

The downside to going with Franson, however, is his relative inexperience. It would be one thing if the incoming defender was Greg Zanon, but its another player with a tendency to pinch down somewhat excessively and try to make a play in the offensive zone. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Denis Grebeshkov, Cody Franson, and to some extent Francis Bouillon are not afraid to jump into the play, which makes it more important to have a stay-at-home player like Klein in the lineup.


Its an interesting conundrum. On the one hand you have the inconsistent play of Klein, who plays a more lock-down style, and on the other hand you have the consistent play of Franson, who is still somewhat raw and seems to be offensively gifted. When Denis Grebeshkov returns, what would you do if you were Barry Trotz?