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5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

The Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Monday to bolster the blue line for the team's quest for the Stanley Cup. Here's what you need to know about the newest Cap.

1. Shattenkirk is a right-shooting defenseman

This is why they got him. The Capitals are the best team in the NHL with only one notable weakness: Right-shot defensemen. The team had only two in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. Prospect Madison Bowey likely would have served as depth for the playoffs, but an injury to his ankle meant Bowey would not get a chance to gain any NHL experience in the latter half of the season, leaving the cupboard completely bare. MacLellan added depth defenseman Tom Gilbert from Los Angeles, but he swung for the fences with Shattenkirk, giving the team three right-handed defensemen to balance out the team’s defensive pairs.

RELATED: Depth and championship mindset prompted Shattenkirk trade

2. Shattenkirk will almost certainly be a rental

It was initially surprising to hear Shattenkirk was on the market considering the St. Louis Blues will likely make the playoffs this year. On the final year of his contract, however, the Blues decided not to let him walk away for nothing and made it known he was available. But Washington was not the first team to come calling. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues had a trade in place with another team, but Shattenkirk nixed the deal by refusing a seven-year, $42 million contract extension. For you non-math majors out there, that’s an average annual value of $6 million. It certainly looks like Shattenkirk is dead set on maxing his value on the open market as a free agent this summer. Considering that the Caps likely won’t have the money to re-sign both Karl Alzner and T.J. Oshie this offseason, they won’t suddenly have the money to re-sign a player who turned his nose at a contract that paid him $6 million per year.​

3. This is the second time in his career that Shattenkirk was traded midseason

Worried about how Shattenkirk will mesh with the Caps? This isn’t the first time he has had to adjust to a new team on the fly. Shattenkirk was traded to St. Louis by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, his rookie year. In his first game with the Blues, he tallied an assist. He would go on to record 17 points in 26 games with St. Louis that season.

4. The Capitals weren’t the only team interested in Shattenkirk

As referenced above, the Blues had a deal in place with another team weeks before Monday's deal got done. That team is believed to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there were also some Metropolitan contenders kicking the tires on the veteran defenseman. Steve Zipay of Newsday reported the New York Rangers were interested as were the Pittsburg Penguins. In the end, however, the high price it took to acquire Shattenkirk kept both the Rangers and the Penguins out of the running. MacLellan dismissed the idea that the trade had anything to do with blocking Shattenkirk from the competition in a conference call with the media on Tuesday, but that doesn’t change the fact that Shattenkirk coming to Washington means he’s not going to New York or Pittsburgh.

5. Shattenkirk is just one of four defensemen to rank in the top-10 in goals, assists and points this season

We all know what Shattenkirk cost, but what will he add? Shattenkirk is a strong player on both ends of the ice. He’s not afraid to be physical or even drop the gloves on occasion. Worried about an inconsistent Caps’ power play? Shattenkirk is an exceptional power play defenseman who can certainly bolster Washington’s attack on the man advantage. His offensive production is solid with 11 goals (5th among all NHL defensemen), 31 assists (7th among NHL defenseman) and 42 points (tied for 4th among NHL defensemen).


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Is Alex Ovechkin still the best winger in the NHL?

Is Alex Ovechkin still the best winger in the NHL?

When you win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals, lead your team to a Stanley Cup and win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, you certainly belong in the discussion among the best in the game.

Even after Alex Ovechkin's incredible season, however, he falls just short of the top spot, according to NHL Network.

The NHL Network revealed the "Top 20 Wings Right Now" rankings as part of its countdown series on Sunday and Ovechkin came in second. Ahead of him was Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A compelling case could certainly be made for both players. Kucherov finished third in the NHL in points with a career-high 100 points (29 goals, 61 assists). Ovechkin, meanwhile, led the NHL in goals with 49 in his 87-point season.

The main argument for Kucherov is that he is 25 while Ovechkin will turn 33 in September and the ranking is for "right now." Ovechkin, however, is still basking in the glow of the Caps' Stanley Cup run which happened just a short two months ago. He also beat and outplayed Kucherov when the Caps met the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, outscoring him with seven points (four goals, three assists) compared to Kucherov's five (one goal, four assists).

Ovechkin's case is a compelling one as evidenced by the fact that he edged out Kucherov in the fan voting.

And then...there's analyst Mike Johnson who believes Ovechkin is neither No. 1 or No. 2. In fact, he barely cracks the top five.

Father Time is undefeated and there will come a point where Ovechkin begins to decline. But when the last competitive NHL hockey game was played, it featured an Ovechkin goal and him hoisting both the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Two months wasn't that long ago so perhaps we should not be expecting his production to fall off a cliff just yet.

The Great 8 has a way of making those quick to bury him look pretty foolish. Will he keep up that trend this season?


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2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes


2018-19 Metropolitan Division preview: Carolina Hurricanes

The Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division three straight years. Can they defend their title? Here’s a preview of each team in the division for the 2018-19 season.

Today's team: Carolina Hurricanes

2017-18 Results: 36-35-11, 83 points, sixth in the division. Did not qualify for the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: F Micheal Ferland, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Dougie Hamilton, D Calvin de Haan, G Petr Mrazek, head coach Rod Brind’Amour

Notable departures: F Elias Lindholm, F Joakim Nordstrom, F Derek Ryan, F Jeff Skinner, F Lee Stempniak, D Noah Hanifin, G Cam Ward, head coach Bill Peters

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 14 in Raleigh, Dec. 27 in Washington, March 26 in Washington, March 28 in Raleigh

Offseason recap: The offseason was one of change for the Hurricanes as new owner Tom Dundon tried to make his mark. Peters and Ron Francis are out, Brind’Amour and Don Waddell are in as coach and general manager. Carolina’s new front office had a busy offseason with a number of splashy moves.

Hanifin, Lindholm and Skinner all will have new homes next season as the Hurricanes traded all three players in two big-time trades. Hanifin and Lindholm netted the team Hamilton, Ferland and a prospect while Skinner brought back a prospect, a second, a third and a sixth-round pick.

In addition, Carolina also added Svechnikov with the second-overall pick in the draft.

Biggest strength: Defense

Carolina was solid defensively last season, it just didn't seem that way because of how bad the goaltending was. Adding de Haan and Hamilton bolsters what was already a formidable blue line.

Biggest weakness: Goaltending

Did I mention how bad their goaltending was last season? Darling and Ward combined for a .909 save percentage, better only than the Buffalo Sabres. Ward put up better numbers (2.73 GAA, .906 save percentage) than Darling (3.18 GAA, .888 save percentage), but he has moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks. To replace him, the Hurricanes picked up Mrazek who also struggled last season (3.03 GAA, .902 save percentage).

So to recap, Ward and Darling both had subpar years, but to replace Ward the Hurricanes picked up a goalie who was worse.

It makes sense that Carolina would want to give Darling another shot at earning the starting job considering they traded for him to be their starter of the future, but just because the goaltending could not get much worse than last season is no guarantee it will be better.

2018-19 season outlook: The Hurricanes enter the season with a lot of question marks.

Can Brind'Amour handle the responsibilities of being a head coach in the NHL with zero head coaching experience at any level? Did they do enough to address their scoring woes? Will someone play like a starting-caliber goalie? Is Dundon breaking the mold of an NHL owner or will his meddling negatively impact the team? Will Hamilton adjust to his new team? Is Svetchnikov ready for a top-line role in his rookie season? Is Sebastian Aho a center?

If they can find positive answers to all of those questions, this is a team that could surprise. More likely, however, there are simply too many issues in Carolina right now for this team to make any real noise.

A new owner, new general manager, new head coach and a new-look roster are too much for one team to adjust to in one season.

2018-19 season prediction: The Hurricanes miss the playoffs and it's not close.