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Kevin Klein Season Preview: Natural Born Penalty Killer

We weren't surprised to see the Nashville Predators struggle to score last season, but the 29th-ranked penalty kill was more Trashville than Smashville. Can Kevin Klein lead the PK unit back to dominance?

Frederick Breedon

Kevin Klein

#8 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators



Dec 13, 1984

2013-14 Salary: $3 million

Cap Hit: $2.9 million (through 2017-18)

Fancy Stats

Season GP 5on5 TOI/Gm Pts/60 Corsi Rel On-Ice Sht % On-Ice Sv% PDO Pen Take Pen Drawn OZ Strt% Shots/60
2013 47 16.91 1.06 -0.4 8.8 919 1007 0.2 0.2 42.7 4.00
2012 66 16.87 1.02 -6.7 7.7 923 1000 0.0 0.2 41.8 4.53
2011 81 16.80 0.71 -12.0 10.0 932 1033 0.2 0.0 44.7 3.75
2010 81 16.61 0.36 -10.8 7.0 908 978 0.3 0.3 43.4 2.59
2009 63 11.58 0.90 +2.2 7.9 930 1009 0.5 0.1 50.8 2.96
2008 13 13.19 0.70 -4.9 5.7 899 956 1.0 0.3 49.5 4.55

Kleiner has developed an increasingly refined, low-event kind of game that perhaps goes under-appreciated due to a lack of highlight-worthy offensive plays. He takes on the thankless jobs, logging plenty of even-strength action against top opponents and leading the Predators in penalty killing ice time per game last season (he has never been lower than second in that regard in the last four years). The real kicker is his ability to take on that responsibility without taking many penalties, which is something that provides a tangible benefit to the team. That 29th-ranked penalty kill would have been even more damaging, were it not for Nashville's ability to stay out of the penalty box (they had the 3rd-fewest times shorthanded last season).

While those contributions usually fly under the radar, Klein's visibility as a core member of the team receives added emphasis this year due to the rest of the defense corps (outside of Shea Weber) being so young, and the fact that Klein is entering the first year of a new 5-year contract worth a total of $14.5 million.

In the season ahead, Klein will be relied upon as the safety net which allows the team to work young blueliners like Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Seth Jones into the mix. With four right-handers possibly dressing each night, might Klein be the most sensible option to move over to the left side? He is perhaps the best prepared to do so, given his experience, skating ability and the fact that the Preds don't rely on him to jump-start the rush, so it's not like there's a huge risk to the offensive game.

What do you think, is it time for Klein to turn sinister?

More from On the Forecheck:

Stats Table Explanation

  • GP: Games Played
  • 5on5 TOI/Gm: Ice Time per game in 5-on-5 play
  • 5on5 Pts/60: Points earned (goals & assists) per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play
  • Corsi Rel: The shift in the balance of Total Shots For & Against when that player is on the ice during 5-on-5 play, as opposed to when he is on the bench. Total Shots = Shots on Goal + Missed Shots + Blocked Shots. Represents an individual's influence on the flow of play.
  • On-Ice Sht %: The team's shooting percentage when that individual is on the ice during 5-on-5 play. Generally, individuals have little to no influence on this number, which can bounce around randomly from season to season.
  • On-Ice Sv%: The team's save percentage while that individual is on the ice in 5-no-5 play. Again, individual's usually have very little influence on this number.
  • PDO: The sum of On-Ice Sht% and On-Ice Sv%, this trends very strongly to 1000 over the long run for almost all players. High values indicate fortunate "puck luck", low values the opposite.
  • Pen Take: Penalties committed by that player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.
  • Pen Drawn: Penalties committed by opponents, but drawn by that player (creating power plays for him team) per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.
  • OZ Strt%: Offensive Zone Start %, the percentage of non-neutral zone faceoffs that player is on the ice for which are in the offensive zone. A measure of how a player is deployed by his coach.
  • Shots/60: Shots on goal taken by that player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.