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.
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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