In the final hours of the NHL’s now expired collective bargaining agreement, the Nashville Predators were able to sign Gabriel Bourque, Craig Smith and Kevin Klein to contract extensions. While Bourque and Smith are perceived to be key parts of the franchise’s offense moving forward, Klein has been, and will continue to be, a key component on the blue line.
At a players skate on Monday morning, Klein said there was no hurry to get the contract completed before the CBA expired Saturday night.
“We were talking before that. There wasn’t really a deadline,” Klein explained. “I talked to David [Poile], and he said if we don’t get a deal done, we would talk when things resume. We came to an agreement, which is nice.”
Given the terms of the contract extension, the lack of urgency to get a deal done becomes apparent.
While many players cashed in during the offseason, signing extremely long-term deals with huge pay-days, Klein agreed to a five-year $14.5 million contract that will see the defenseman get paid $3 million in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, and $2.75 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
It is unknown what the next CBA will allow in terms of player contracts, but Klein’s new deal with the Predators would surely fit within its parameters.
The Kitchener, Ontario native was not motivated by money, though getting a contract worth more than $3 million a season on the open market for a defenseman of Klein’s caliber would be all but a certainty.
“Things have gone on in the past with free agents,” Klein said before changing direction, “Definitely, most of the time, you can make more money, but money isn’t always the big point.”
Money may not have been a motivating factor for Klein, but length of term may have been. Having spent his entire career with the Predators without a long-term deal, the 27-year old is happy to know that Nashville will be his home until he is at least 33-years old.
“I’ve never had a contract longer than three years, so it was important. I have a young family, so it is nice to have some stability. Both of our kids were born here. It is nice to have that commitment from the team. They knew I wanted to be here. I’m glad we got the deal [done].”
Last season, Klein had a career high in points with 4 goals and 17 assists. He led the Predators in blocked shots with 151. The defenseman also ranked third on the team in average ice-time, just shy of 20 minutes a game. While Klein is a key component to the Predators penalty killing, he also rarely sees time inside the penalty box himself.
Drafted 37th overall in the 2003 draft that also gave Nashville Shea Weber as well as the captain’s former partner, Ryan Suter, Klein can’t seem to see himself playing for any other team. “Being in Nashville, we love the city. People are fantastic, and I think we have a really good team moving forward.”