Tampa Bay Lightning Defence With Kevin Shattenkirk

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 13: Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 13, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated New York 7-5. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning added to its firepower with the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk. After the New York Rangers showed Shattenkirk the doors, the Lightning didn’t want to sniff around for too long. The Rangers had their reasons to buy out Shattenkirk. He is now another former Rangers player on the Tampa Bay Lightning behalf. What is the Lightning defence with Kevin Shattenkirk going to look like?

Looking at Tampa Bay Lightning Defence With Kevin Shattenkirk

Kevin Shattenkirk is still a very reliable defenceman. Unfortunately for him, his dreamed spell with the New York Rangers hasn’t worked out. From one part, it’s his fault, of course. But he also suffered a severe knee injury in his very first season. There are undoubtedly no wonders on the reasons of his buyout by the Rangers. What became the Rangers casualty, might become the Tampa Bay’s blessing. One cannot deny that the Lightning defence with Kevin Shattenkirk is going to change dramatically.

Even after those two unsuccessful seasons on Broadway, and with his age growing, Shattenkirk is still very useful. The Tampa Bay Lightning created some salary cap space with moving out injured forward Ryan Callahan to the Ottawa Senators. Before his knee injury, Shattenkirk has always reached a 40-point mark in a full 82-game regular season. Before signing with the Rangers two years ago, he was coming off a 56-point career year. Last season wasn’t a pleasant one for the 30-year-old defenceman.

It was probably the best news for him that he managed to take part in 73 games and be healthy, although he collected only 28 points. On a one-year deal worth $1.75 million per campaign, that doesn’t seem like a risky move at all from Tampa Bay. More than that, they added even more depth to their lineup. The lineup, which has been firing on all cylinders during the last season. Of course, the playoffs is something that the Lightning are still trying to forget about.

Lightning Defence and Kevin Shattenkirk

How can the Tampa Bay Lightning defence with Kevin Shattenkirk in it look like? Firstly, Shattenkirk is an excellent puck-moving defenceman. He never really got to show his real potential and skills with the Rangers. Furthermore, finally injury-free, Shattenkirk has landed on one of the best destinations, if not the best destination, in the NHL. The Lightning, despite the playoffs, are still a huge force in the NHL. But Shattenkirk doesn’t only bring hope or puck-moving abilities. He also brings leadership and experience.

The Lightning have lost important parts of their recent success. Anton Stralman has signed with the Florida Panthers, the divisional rivals. Dan Girardi is still an unrestricted free agent, not expected to return to Tampa Bay. When the playoffs began last spring, the Lightning defence had Victor Hedman paired with Girardi. Ryan McDonagh played on a stable second defensive pair with Erik Cernak, who had a breakout year. The third pair was a bit of an experiment with Mikhail Sergachev and Jan Rutta together.

Stralman was injured, Braydon Coburn was a healthy scratch. The Lightning re-signed Coburn to a two-year contract extension this offseason. They also re-signed Jan Rutta to a one-year deal. The Lightning signed free agent Luke Schenn to a one-year deal. As it appears now, the Lightning defence with Kevin Shattenkirk would see the right-handed blueliner featuring on the top-pair duties with Victor Hedman. This would be the projection:

Victor Hedman – Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Jan Rutta
Braydon Coburn – Luke Schenn

What Does Shattenkirk Bring To Table for Tampa Bay?

Last year was a very difficult one for the experienced defenceman. Shattenkirk has been able to play for the almost entire season after his knee issues. He scored only two goals, which was a major disappointment for him. However, he posted 50.6 of the CF%, 56.6 of the oZS%, and 51.0 in xGF. He averaged 18:56 of the ice-time per contest, while he averages 20:47 of the time on the ice per game during his career. He also recorded 349 points in 609 NHL regular-season games with four different teams.

Still, these are not the worst numbers, the Rangers just weren’t going to pay him $6,650,000 per season for two more years. The Lightning got themselves a very useful, offensive-minded defenceman. Plus, for a rather cheap price. Especially after the trade of Ryan Callahan, the Lightning took the risk. Even without Brayden Point and/or Adam Erne signed. The Lightning like to play a lot with the puck on their sticks. That just suits perfectly for Shattenkirk.

As aforementioned, Shattenkirk as a right-handed defenceman would complete the first pair with Hedman. Last year, the Lightning were pretty comfortable playing Girardi alongside Hedman. Shattenkirk is an even better defenceman, mainly offensively. Without Girardi and Stralman, Tampa Bay needed to add to their depth on the right side of the defence. They suddenly ended up only with Rutta, Cernak and Schenn as the right-handed blueliners, with Sergachev potentially used on that side as well. Adding Shattenkirk makes a lot of sense while taking a look at the Lightning defence. For him, it will be a great challenge to redeem himself playing big minutes, something he has been able to do in the past.

Tampa Bay Lightning Love For Former New York Rangers Players

The New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning have both something in common. They love to share players. That applies mainly to the Lightning, who doesn’t shy away from a lot of attraction towards the former Rangers players. In 2014, their mutual history commenced. At the Trade Deadline, the Rangers sent their captain Ryan Callahan to the Lightning in exchange for Martin St. Louis. Later that year, the Lightning re-signed Callahan to a six-year deal worth $5.8 million per season.

On first of July that same year, after Callahan’s trade and signing, Tampa Bay signed Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle in the free agency. Both players were coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance with the Rangers. Something that they repeated with their new club a year after, but again, unsuccessfully.

At the Trade Deadline in 2017, the Lightning traded Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the offseason the same year, the Rangers bought out Dan Girardi and the Lightning reacted with signing him on a two-year deal. Ahead of the Trade Deadline in 2018, the Lightning acquired J.T. Miller and Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh in exchange for draft picks and Vladislav Namestnikov.

Since then, the Lightning have had five former Rangers players on their roster, two former captains included. During the offseason in 2019, Tampa Bay lost four of these five skaters. Stralman and Girardi left via free agency, Callahan and Miller were traded. But McDonagh won’t stay “alone”. Now Kevin Shattenkirk has followed the steps of Dan Girardi, who signed as a free agent in Tampa after being bought out by the Rangers.

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