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Predators add defenseman to provide more offense; seriously they did

Kevin Klein in front of his own net
Kevin Klein in front of his own net
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

By now, everyone knows that the Nashville Predators traded defenseman Kevin Klein to the New York Rangers in exchange for fellow blueliner Michael Del Zotto early Wednesday afternoon.

During his press conference later Wednesday afternoon, Predators general manager David Poile addressed the reasons for making the deal, citing the fact that Del Zotto is a left-handed shot, younger, and has more offensive upside than Klein.

Klein has been with the organization since Nashville drafted him - ahead of Shea Weber even - in 2003. He has played all of his 403 regular season games in a Predators uniform. Not known for producing a lot of points, Klein has been a steady fixture on the right side of the team’s second defensive pairing for years. He has also been a reliable penalty killer for the team.

But one quote of Poile’s really stood out though.

“We’re a team that struggles a little bit offensively and a lot of our offense comes from our defense, and I think Del Zotto is another piece that will help us in that area,” Poile said. “Del Zotto has a big time upside offensively and hopefully under our coaches, that will be fulfilled.”

There is no question that Poile is right on in his analysis of where his offense comes from, but is that something that should be embraced and relied upon to win games and eventually (some season) return to the playoffs?

The Predators have had a nice little run of late in winning three of four. But seven of their last 15 goals have been scored by defensemen.

If you are Nashville’s management and looking to make a deal, shouldn’t you be looking at adding some scoring punch up front, you know, the guys who are generally regarded as the ones who are supposed to score the goals?

After 51 games in the 2013-14 season, the Predators have exactly three forwards with double-digit goals – Craig Smith, Mike Fisher, and Patric Hornqvist.

Are they just throwing their hands up in the air and resigning themselves to the fact that their forwards can’t score goals and trying to acquire any others via trade would not have any impact on goals scored?

Sure management and coaching staffs love getting goals from anyone; hell head coach Barry Trotz would probably do backflips on the bench if Carter Hutton or newly acquired goaltender Devan Dubnyk would pot one every now and then, but he certainly can’t rely on that happening.

On a serious note and to a much lesser degree, relying on defensemen to provide most or all of your offense is a curious move, especially if it comes at a cost of a guy who is such a solid defensive defenseman in Klein. And those guys still have a place in the game.

More offense from defensemen often comes at a cost of those defensemen having to take more risks and jump into plays more, thereby exposing things to odd-man rushes going back the other way.

But hey, it may not be a bad strategy though. Since the forwards aren’t scoring much, maybe they can just drift back and cover the defensive responsibilities for the team’s real goal scorers.