kevin shattenkirk

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Barry Trotz gives honest assessment of Kevin Shattenkirk

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Barry Trotz gives honest assessment of Kevin Shattenkirk

For 19 regular season games and 13 playoff games, the nation's capital was the home of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The highly skilled defenseman was acquired by the Capitals during the 2017 trade deadline to help bolster the team’s defensive unit.

Shattenkirk’s time in Washington received mixed reviews. The Capitals fell in the second round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Shattenkirk, despite being seen as the top prize of the trade deadline, ended up playing primarily on the Caps’ third pairing.

With Shattenkirk back in town on Friday as a member of the New York Rangers, Barry Trotz was asked Thursday about why the acquisition did not seem to work out for the Caps.

“I think it takes a little bit of adjustment,” Trotz said to the media after practice.

“We play a little different from some teams. It worked in areas that we wanted. He helped our power play. He made it more dangerous and that. I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2 and he really wasn't. He was a little lower. I think it worked out OK. I think he had a patch during the one series where it wasn't really good. I think he regained it and scored a big goal for us in Pitt. I just think, yeah, the first playoff series wasn't, that's what you remember. It sticks out. But I think overall he was fine.”

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The Rangers were also practicing at Kettler on Thursday which gave Shattenkirk an opportunity to respond to Trotz’s evaluation.

“It doesn't sit well with you,” he said. “It's nothing that you enjoy hearing, but I think there's a lot of people who probably think that about me and I like to use that in my favor and try to use that as something to just keep me boosted and prove people wrong.”

Shattenkirk signed a four-year $26.6 million contract with the Rangers in the offseason. Even with a deal that carries a $6.65 million cap hit, it is still believed to be somewhat of a hometown discount considering the New York native had offers for more money and longer term on the table.

Despite his new contract, however, Shattenkirk does not even play on the top pairing on his new team. Instead, he skates alongside Brady Skjei on the second pairing behind Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden.

So perhaps it is hard to argue with Trotz’s point.

Shattenkirk’s offensive skills are undeniable and he already has five goals and 20 points in 27 games for his new team. His defensive acumen, however, is what is frequently called into question.

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When asked if he felt he was a top-pair player, Shattenkirk said, “I think I'm working towards it. I think there's a lot more room for me to grow. I think that I have to handle those top-end matchups a little bit better and when I get those opportunities, I really have to make sure that I make them count.

“I know we have a guy like Ryan McDonagh is a good example for me, someone who I try to watch and the way that he handles players like the Ovechkins and the Backstroms and the Crosbys, that's something that I'm still working towards. I don't think I'm there yet, but I think I can get there.”

Ultimately, you are worth what teams are willing to pay you. His worth to the Rangers is just over $26 million. Whether that makes him a No. 1 or 2 defenseman, that’s up to Shattenkirk to prove.

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Now a Ranger, Kevin Shattenkirk praises Alex Ovechkin

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Now a Ranger, Kevin Shattenkirk praises Alex Ovechkin

Kevin Shattenkirk was able to call Alex Ovechkin a teammate for only a brief time, but the Great 8 evidently left an impression.

Shattenkirk signed with the New York Rangers in the offseason and went to the NHL-NHLPA media tour representing his new team. While there, he was asked about his now former captain Ovechkin.

"I loved him," Shattenkirk said. "The thing that surprised me the most was how much fun he has. I didn't really grasp how big he was and how much pressure he has on him. He always comes to the rink with the smile on his face. That's something I really admired about him."

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While with the Capitals, Shattenkirk was added to the power play on the point. Though his time in Washington was brief—he was a trade deadline acquisition as a pending free agent—Ovechkin is someone he became quickly familiar with as he was tasked with setting up the captain in his "office" in the left faceoff circle.

Ovechkin is a player who always seems to face a lot of criticism. Some of that is fair considering he is one of the greatest players of all time and yet has not been able to lead Washington past the second round of the playoffs. Much of the criticism about the person he is in the locker room, however, is not. He is a player universally praised by his current and former teammates with Shattenkirk being just the latest example.

And if you're in the "what is he supposed to say?" camp, consider that Shattenkirk left Washington after a second-round playoff loss and signed a four-year deal with a rival team within the same division. If he had an ax to grind, he could have said whatever he wanted.

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Report: Kevin Shattenkirk signs with the New York Rangers

Report: Kevin Shattenkirk signs with the New York Rangers

Kevin Shattenkirk’s brief stint with the Washington Capitals has now officially come to an end. Considered the biggest trade deadline target in February, Shattenkirk was also the top free agent defenseman this summer and cashed in, reportedly signing a four-year deal worth $26 million with the New York Rangers. 

After trying to shore up the defense with minor trades the last two years with Tim Gleason and Mike Weber, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan decided to swing for the fences last season by acquiring the top blue line target in a trade deadline deal. In February, he traded for Shattenkirk, 28, and goalie prospect Pheonix Copley in exchange for Zach Sanford, Brad Malone, a first-round pick and conditional picks.

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That’s a steep price to pay for a player whose career in Washington consisted of only 32 total regular season and playoffs games. But, as someone expected to be highly sought-after as a free agent, Shattenkirk was always expected to be a rental player.

Shattenkirk brought defensive depth and shot balance to the team’s defense as a right-handed shot, but seemed to struggle adjusting to his new team. Despite being one of the top pending free agents, he played on Washington’s third pair alongside Brooks Orpik. He is now just the latest example of a trade deadline acquisition to struggle with the late-season transition to a new team. Judging from his new contract, however, his postseason performance with the Caps did not affect his stock across the rest of the league. Now he heads to New York with a raise and a much bigger role.

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