Preds ink Klein to two-year deal
The Nashville Predators made another move to solidify the roster for 2008-2009 with the signing of defenseman Kevin Klein.

Klein, a second round pick by the Predators in the 2003 Entry Draft, signed a two-year deal for $1.3 million. He will receive $500,000 this season and $800,000 next season.

“He was a high draft pick for us,” said David Poile, president of hockey operations/general manager for the Predators. “We believe in his ability. He is going to be a real good player for us. Based on the contract he signed we made a statement that we think he is going to play on a regular basis for us. This is a good signing for all of us.”

Last season Klein, 23, saw limited playing time as the Predators carried eight defensemen. He played in only 13 games last season, posting two assists and six penalty minutes. He has one goal and two assists in 18 career NHL games for the Predators.

“His star is on the rise,” said Poile. “By virtue of the good play of our top six defensemen and very few injuries to that group he had the opportunity to only play in very few games last season. It was a tough situation.”

During the 2007-2008 season he also played nine games for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League during two conditioning trips. He had three assists while splitting time at both forward and defenseman.

“Kevin got the confidence from being up here in Nashville all year,” Poile said. “He is well-built. He is in good condition. He is strong. He is an excellent skater.

“The only thing we haven’t seen is the chance for him to play on a regular basis. There was no way we were just going to let him go. We knew what we had.”

Poile opened the way for Klein by trading Marek Zidlicky to the Minnesota Wild and Janne Niskala to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Kevin told us at his end of the year meeting that he was happy to be in the NHL, but that the bad news was he had only played in a handful of games,” Poile said. “He likes our organization, but he said he couldn’t have another year where he didn’t play very much.”

Defenseman Ville Koistinen has chosen to go to arbitration. Forward Rich Peverley is weighing some offers from Europe in addition to the Predators’ offer.