New York Rangers: Why signing Kevin Shattenkirk is the right move

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

This summer’s free agent class is being headlined by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The New York Rangers will be one of the many teams interested in signing the blue liner.

Kevin Shattenkirk has been one of the most prominent defenseman in the NHL over the past few seasons. His numbers jump off the paper and he is a joy to watch play.

Shattenkirk spent most of his career with the St. Louis Blues. He started his career in 2010 in Colorado, but finished the year in St. Louis. Shattenkirk was traded to the Washington Capitals at this year’s trade deadline.

Now it’s time for Shattenkirk to find a new home. His desired salary of roughly $6.5-$7 million over five to six years takes a lot of teams out of contention. The New York Rangers are not one of those teams.

In fact, the Rangers have emerged as Shattenkirk’s rumored favorite. Shattenkirk grew up in New Rochelle, New York, as a Rangers fan. He is looking to move somewhere closer to home and Madison Square Garden is as close as it gets.

Shattenkirk certainly has interest in the Rangers, but should the Rangers have interest in him? The answer to that is simple: how soon can they sign him?

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Filling a need

The Rangers defense is in a serious need of an upgrade.

Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are only shades of what they used to be. Nick Holden and Kevin Klein struggled to perform at an adequate level as the year went on. And as long as Alain Vigneault is the coach, one can assume Adam Clendening won’t see much ice time.

It’s also fair to assume that none of the above will be a part of the roster when the new season kicks off this fall.

That leaves only Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, and Brendan Smith as good choices at important moments in the games; and as of right now Smith isn’t even signed for next season yet.

Shattenkirk could help this defense big time if signed. He brings a style of defense that the Rangers desperately need. His smart puck movement does great things for his team’s possession metrics. He is also a blessing to any power play unit his presence graces.

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He has earned the money

The only real drawback to signing any defenseman of Shattenkirk’s caliber is the financial commitment. The Rangers have been down this road before with Dan Girardi and Marc Staal and it is biting them just a couple of years later.

With that being said, it’s hard to say Shattenkirk hasn’t earned this pay day. There are a lot of things that should make the Rangers feel confident that he will continue to earn his keep if he is signed.

There has been a nice blend of consistency and improvement over Shattenkirk’s career.

Possession metrics have been consistently good. Shattenkirk’s corsi for has steadily been over 52%, and has seen peaks as high as 55%.

For those that are unfamiliar with corsi, it tracks all shots regardless of whether or not they are on goal. The numbers are run side by side with shots for and shots against, and a percentage is born.

Shattenkirk has improved over the years in points. This season Shattenkirk had a whopping 56 points. For scale, that would tie him for second place in points on the Rangers with JT Miller. Except Shattenkirk plays defense.

Shattenkirk’s plus/minus can be an eye sore on paper. This season he was -7 and last season -14. However, it’s worth noting that the Blues were amongst the worst teams in the league at keeping the puck out of their own net. Everyone had a poor plus/minus because the team generally did.

In 19 games as a member of the Washington Capitals this year, Shattenkirk was +4. The Rangers are similar to the Capitals in team plus/minus, so Shattenkirk should continue those numbers in New York.

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There’s always a short-term deal

If the Rangers are hesitant on signing Shattenkirk long-term for any reason, they could try and interest him in a three year deal. He will likely want a longer deal, but considering his other priorities, he might make an exception for the Rangers.

If I am Jeff Gorton I go ahead and give him what he wants. I would be cautious signing him for more than $7 million a year, but it’s unlikely he will be asking for more than that.

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Shattenkirk has proved that he is worth the money. The Rangers have shown that they need a player like him. There isn’t a whole lot more to consider, make him Broadway’s next star for the 2017-2018 season.