Once the hottest piece on the free agent market in 2017, today, Kevin Shattenkirk looks more like a mistake for the New York Rangers. Acquired on July 1, 2017, Shattenkirk’s time with the Rangers has been littered with unlucky injuries and disappointment. Now, deep into a rebuild, Shattenkirk has found himself on his dream team at the wrong time.
Kevin Shattenkirk From Hometown Hero to Broadway Bust
Shattenkirk, who was selected 14th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2007 NHL Draft, showed great promise as his career progressed. He earned a high of 56 points in 2016-17 between the St. Louis Blues and the Washington Capitals, he seemed to be the answer to the Rangers problems on the blue line come summer of 2017. Shattenkirk and the Rangers struck the deal of $6.65 million a year for four years, considered a bargain for the New Rochelle, New York native. He was home.
Shattenkirk dreamed of playing on the Rangers as a kid. On October 5th, 2017, he finally stepped on the ice at Madison Square Garden, adorned in blue. Unfortunately, his debut game resulted in a loss to the Avalanche. He earned a single assist. Since then, Shattenkirk has struggled to reach his potential on the Blueshirts. In 75 games with the Rangers, Shattenkirk holds only six goals and 25 assists for 31 points. Plagued with a torn meniscus in his debut season, and now a shoulder injury suffered on December 10th, Shattenkirk’s Rangers dream seems like it was too good to be true.
Timing is Everything
In addition to his unfortunate injury streak, Shattenkirk is simply on the Rangers at the wrong time. Ryan McDonagh, whom he noted was a major reason for joining the Rangers, is no longer on the squad. The two played together in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and their chemistry never had a chance to reach its peak. McDonagh was struggled to lead in a disenchanted franchise and Shattenkirk couldn’t keep up due to the pain of his knee injury. After the Rangers fire-sale letter in February 2018, the character of the team shifted. Because the boys on Broadway are no longer as eager to hoist the cup within the next two years, 29-year-old Shattenkirk is out of place. He is now surrounded by younger players, a new coach, and a new style. As seen in recent games, Shattenkirk looks slower and more out of place by the minute.
Who’s to Blame
Shattenkirk’s lack of success isn’t entirely his fault but his future career doesn’t have a place on the Rangers. His offensive defence draw has been eclipsed by younger players like Neal Pionk, who shows great promise as future championship pieces for the Blueshirts. Additionally, the position of star defenseman belongs to Brady Skjei after he signed a major contract this summer. Skjei is currently working out kinks of his own with consistency and stress-induced mistakes. However, he’s 24, plenty of time to sink into his role. Shattenkirk, however, hasn’t been blessed with the gift of time and he only has a few good years left in the league. Taking this into consideration, Shattenkirk’s time is better spent on a present contender, not a team with eyes set five to six years in the future.
Shattenkirk’s contract doesn’t include a full no-trade clause. If the Rangers look to shop him around in the spring, he can submit a 10 team no-trade list. However, if Mats Zuccarello is traded, as has been rumoured, the Rangers will ache for some NHL-veteran presence on a youthful squad. This could potentially keep Shattenkirk on board. However, Henrik Lundqvist and Chris Kreider supply plenty of veteran support and have anchored themselves in the hearts of Rangers fans throughout the years.
Whether or not Shattenkirk will stay for the rebuild is unclear but at this time, he certainly doesn’t live up to the hype from July 2017.
Main Photo: New York Rangers defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk during the first period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Getty Images)