Rangers d-man Klein announces retirement

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In a long-rumored move, Kevin Klein is hanging up his skates.

Klein, 32, has announced his retirement from the NHL after a 12-year career split between the Predators and Rangers. The veteran defenseman had earlier been linked to such a move, following a tough ’16-17 campaign that was derailed by back problems.

Klein penned a thank-you letter that was distributed by the Rangers’ Twitter account this morning. Shortly thereafter, the club made his retirement official.

With the move, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton now has some additional — and important — space under the salary cap. Klein was headed into the last of a five-year, $14.5 million deal, and by retiring his $2.9M cap hit will be wiped off the books.

That’s key, because the club still needs to sign RFA Mika Zibanejad, and would (presumably) want to upgrade the center position.

As for Klein, he walks away with over 600 games on his resume, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the Rangers in 2014. He was also part of the first Nashville team to ever win a playoff series, as he and the Preds upended Anaheim in the opening round of the 2011 postseason.