Kevin Shattenkirk and the New York Rangers have been linked for the better part of a year, because he’s always been linked to New York. His Twitter bio has read “New Yorker at heart” for years. His parents live in Westchester County, and his summer home is their house in New Rochelle, when he’s not hanging in the Hamptons.
The question was whether Shattenkirk would work within the Rangers’ financial structure. They weren’t looking to add him for seven seasons. They weren’t looking a cap hit over $7.5 million, which was a potential average annual value for Shattenkirk as the prized free agent in the NHL this summer.
He had a number of larger financial offers on the table.
He chose to go home instead, for fewer years and less money.
Shattenkirk and the Rangers agreed on a four-year, $26.6 million contract on July 1 – a much smaller contract than had been anticipated for the No. 1 player on nearly every free agent board.
“As it comes down to the wire here, you have to look at other considerations other than money, other than term,” said Shattenkirk on TSN.
“To play for the team you grew up watching, rooting for, is a lifelong goal.”
In Shattenkirk, 28, the Rangers land an elite puck-moving defenseman, although his impact at even strength isn’t in the same league as players like Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. He’s most effective on the power play, where he generated 27 of his 56 points last season between the St. Louis Blues and the Washington Capitals.
His stint with the Capitals gave some people pause. He wasn’t good in the playoffs. Hell, he wasn’t even present in the playoffs at times. But sometimes players acquired at the trade deadline just don’t work out as intended. Another consideration: He wasn’t a top pairing defenseman with the Blues. Would the Rangers play him with Ryan McDonagh, or have him anchor a second pairing?
Those concerns aside, Shattenkirk’s playing career – 490 games, 68 goals and 230 assists – speaks to his high level of play. He’s plus-368 in shot attempts over his last 208 games at 5-on-5
Look, he’s making $6.65 million against the cap. He came to the Rangers, made a pitch to them and it was an offer they couldn’t refuse for a player at his level. He has 100 points over his last two seasons; from 2015-17, McDonagh was the only one over 50 points. He fills an undeniable need, at a price the Rangers couldn’t deny.
Put it this way: They traded Derek Stepan at $6.5 million against the cap through 2021 for Kevin Shattenkirk at $6.65 million through 2021. Who doesn’t make that trade, straight up?
This should be a happy homecoming for all involved. Well, until the New York media has a chance to rip him. But then we imagine Shattenkirk is well aware of the Post and the News and WFAN. He’s a New Yorker at heart.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS