The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed former New York Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million.
Shattenkirk had his pick of almost every team in the league as a unrestricted free agent, and his decision to join one of the NHL’s top teams in hope of winning a Stanley Cup isn’t all that surprising. He also rejoins Ryan McDonagh, a player who was one of the main reasons why Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers in July of 2017.
I mean this isn’t all that shocking pic.twitter.com/2oYLiiYrna— Tom Urtz Jr. (@TomUrtzJr) August 5, 2019
Tampa held an introductory conference call for Shattenkirk today, and on the call he talked about the buyout, his brief time as a New York Ranger, and how he will approach the game going forward.
Shattenkirk says he was shocked about being bought out by Rangers: "I was pretty pissed off about it."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Shattenkirk: "I think I have a huge chip on my shoulder right now. It didn’t work out with injuries and performance and with the way the direction of the team, the way that kind of deteriorated from when I signed on July 1 to now."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Shattenkirk is going to get a chance to play with either McDonagh or Victor Hedman, and either one of these defenders will certainly be better than anyone he skated with during his time in New York.
If he skates with Hedman, Shattenkirk should be even better 5v5 than he was last season, as the Lightning’s top defender did an admirable job helping Dan Girardi extend his career.
Shattenkirk: "I think I’m pissed off at myself for not taking advantage of the opportunity to play at home better and give them a reason to make it a no-brainer that this wouldn’t be their decision."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Adds he's no fan of Rangers going into rebuild.
This part is an important one because at the time of signing the Rangers were retooling on the fly. But just a few months after the deal was official the team sent out a letter to the fans announcing their intentions to rebuild.
The timing of Shattenkirk’s season-ending injury in year one certainly didn’t help matters, but making the tough decision to launch a rebuild was something the organization felt was necessary.
So while the Rangers certainly didn’t get the player they thought they were, they also changed directions months after signing a four-year $26.6 million deal with Shattenkirk. They also deemed he no longer fit the team’s plan they pulled the rip cord completely just two years into the deal, as a result of making additional moves that required some increased financial flexibility.
Shattenkirk on his time with the Rangers: "It’s definitely not a success story.”— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Shattenkirk: "I’m not mad at the decision. Definitely not. A lot of these things, they have to be learning experiences." Doesn't regret signing with Rangers.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Shattenkirk was born in New Rochelle, and grew up idolizing Brian Leetch. He dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Rangers, and just playing for his hometown team was a huge deal. So while he is getting paid a lot of money not to play for them anymore, it certainly is a tough situation he didn’t imagine being a possibility when he joined the Rangers almost two years ago.
Shattenkirk says he considered signing with 6 or 7 NHL teams after Rangers bought him out. Lightning won out.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
It will be interesting if the full list of teams who were interested in Shattenkirk come out. According to The Fourth Period, Toronto, Colorado, and Winnipeg were among the teams who has serious interest in signing him.
Although he’s at a low point after just being bought out, Shattenkirk is 30, and in a great position to try and jump start his career with a very good team. While that’s going to be his main focus, heading to Tampa will also provide him another outlet to continue work his was doing in New York.
During his time with the Rangers he was an important part of the local community in terms of philanthropy, with his most notable example being part of a series of Jam Kancer in the Kan fundraisers.
One added benefit of signing with the Lightning is that he will be able to continue that work, as Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller co-sponsored a Kan Jam event this past March. I’d expect him to continue to be a big advocate for raising money and awareness for those impacted by pediatric cancer.