Kevin Shattenkirk
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Kevin Shattenkirk started his New York Rangers tenure with high hopes, but both sides never got the timing right in the end. 

New York Rangers fans everywhere were refreshing their Twitter feeds as excitement grew that the team would be signing Kevin Shattenkirk. The New Rochelle native took a hometown discount to sign with his childhood team and was poised to become a mainstay in the organization.

The Rangers, though, had other plans in mind.

Shattenkirk was the most prized free agent in the summer of 2017. His tenure with St. Louis was successful and it saw him taking the lead as a dynamic defenseman on both sides of the puck.

When Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers, it was a given he would quarterback the previously struggling power-play. It was also a given that Shattenkirk upon his arrival on Broadway would be a consistent performer in every game he played in but that simply was not the case.

What Happened?

The Rangers set the bar too high for Shattenkirk and went in with great expectations for his career donning the royal blue sweater. But, hockey is a sport filled with unknowns. In his tenure in New York, Shattenkirk set career lows in nearly every category. In his first year, he tore his meniscus and sat out over half the year, making him a near non-factor in his first year.

Numbers aside, though, the truth is the timing was all wrong. In Shattenkirk’s first year, the Rangers built a team meant to go to the playoffs. That same year, Rangers management released the letter and that changed the team’s trajectory completely.

Shattenkirk said shortly after he was signed, “No matter where you go you’re trying to win your team a Stanley Cup, there’s no better place to try to do it for me than in New York.” Now, just a few months into his Rangers tenure, his purpose for coming here seemed to make less sense.

At the 2018 trade deadline, the Rangers were trading assets left and right, gearing up for the future. The team was being broken apart and watching it all was Shattenkirk. By this point, he had years of excellent hockey to back him up, but that made it all the more pointless that he was here.

His Demise

When the Rangers began their rebuild, there were still bright spots in the lineup, and there are even more today. But the fact of the matter remains the team still wasn’t good. During the 2017-18 season, the Rangers had a goal differential of -37 and -45 in this past season. Needless to say, the Rangers have had defensive woes as of late.

Shattenkirk simply hasn’t played alongside someone who complements him. Before the Rangers traded Ryan McDonagh, many thought they would be as good of a pairing as they were when they played together on the U.S. National Team. Unfortunately, they never got the minutes together that some had wanted. All of last season, Shattenkirk was going up and down the three defensive pairings as Head Coach David Quinn searched for his match, but he never found it.

Shattenkirk was meant to be a piece on a potential Rangers Stanley Cup victory. After the letter, he surely could not do it all by himself.

Hope for the Future

Just two years after some fans were planning the parade down the Canyon of Heroes, Shattenkirk is no longer a Ranger. It is a sad thing to think about considering what he left to play for his childhood team. Reading his Players’ Tribune article makes this buyout all the more tough to handle for Rangers fans.

The good news coming out of all of this and the debacle the Rangers still face with their salary cap issues is what the future defensive pairings will look like. Adam Fox, who the Rangers acquired from Carolina at the beginning of the offseason, is poised to replace Shattenkirk and build on his stellar seasons playing in the NCAA with Harvard.

Additionally, the Rangers have a new elite defenseman to man the blue line on the first pairing in the form of Jacob Trouba. Trouba alongside Brady Skjei will be a force to be reckoned with surely.

Still, even with the buyout of Shattenkirk, the Rangers still have a logjam of defensemen to deal with. Knocking on the door are K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, Yegor Rykov and Ryan Lindgren.

The Kevin Shattenkirk buyout is unfortunate because he really did not get his fair chance in his hometown team. Nonetheless, his subtraction only means more chances to add younger talent to an exciting team with big plans for the future

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