New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein announced his retirement from the National Hockey League today, ending a career which included parts of 12 seasons in the league.
Klein, 32, skated in 627 career NHL games with the Rangers and Nashville Predators (2005-06 - 2016-17), registering 38 goals and 116 assists for 154 points, along with a plus-22 rating and 185 penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut as a member of the Predators on December 3, 2005 vs. Philadelphia, 10 days shy of his 21st birthday. Klein registered his first career NHL goal/point on January 26, 2007 at Chicago.
The 6-1, 206-pounder was acquired by the Rangers from Nashville in exchange for Michael Del Zotto on January 22, 2014. Klein skated in 224 career regular season games with the Blueshirts over parts of four seasons (2013-14 - 2016-17), registering 22 goals and 50 assists for 72 points, along with a plus-49 rating and 75 penalty minutes. From the time he made his debut with the Rangers on January 23, 2014 through the end of the 2016-17 season, Klein led Rangers defensemen in even strength goals (22) and game-winning goals (eight), ranked second among Rangers defensemen in goals, points, plus/minus rating, and hits (414), and ranked third among team defensemen in assists.
During his three full seasons as a Ranger (2014-15 - 2016-17), Klein tied for 10th among NHL defensemen in plus/minus rating (plus-45) and game-winning goals (eight), and tied for 16th among NHL defensemen in even strength goals (21). Klein established career-highs in goals (nine) and points (26) during the 2014-15 season and tied both of those career-highs in 2015-16. In addition, he is one of only two Rangers defensemen who have tallied nine or more even strength goals in at least two seasons since 1986-87 (along with Brian Leetch). Klein recorded two overtime goals during the 2014-15 season, becoming the third Rangers defenseman to tally at least two overtime goals in one season since the NHL reimplemented an overtime period in 1983-84.
Klein helped his team advance to the playoffs in seven of his nine full seasons in the NHL, including each of his four seasons with the Rangers. He skated in 73 career NHL playoff games, registering four goals and 15 assists for 19 points, along with a plus-five rating and 27 penalty minutes. In addition, he registered 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 45 career playoff games with the Rangers. Klein established playoff career-highs in games played (25) and plus/minus rating (plus-seven) during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs while helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Kitchener, Ontario, native played parts of nine seasons with Nashville (2005-06 - 2013-14), registering 82 points (16 goals, 66 assists) in 403 games. At the time of his departure from Nashville, Klein ranked 12th on the Predators' all-time games played list, including fifth among defensemen in career games played with Nashville. Klein established a career-high with 81 games played during the 2009-10 season with the Predators, and he tied that career-high the following season. In addition, Klein established a career-high - and tied for ninth in the NHL - with 173 blocked shots during the 2010-11 season with the Predators, and he also averaged a career-high, 20:47 of ice time per game in 2010-11 with Nashville.
Klein helped the Predators advance to the playoffs three times during his tenure with the team. He established playoff career-highs in goals (two) and points (four) in 10 games during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he registered his first career game-winning goal in the playoffs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Detroit on April 17, 2012.
Klein was originally selected by Nashville in the second round, 37th overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.