The first thing you read about Kevin Shattenkirk on his Twitter bio is that he’s a “New Yorker at heart.” This is before he mentions his Boston University lineage, or the fact that he’s a defenseman for the St. Louis Blues.
His parents live in Westchester County, and his summer home is their house in New Rochelle, when he’s not hanging in the Hamptons. He went to prep school at Brunswick School in Greenwich, Conn. His first NHL game was at Madison Square Garden. His idol growing up was Brian Leetch.
All of this is to say that the worst-kept secret in hockey is that Kevin Shattenkirk, who is roughly four months away from controlling his next career move for the first time, would prefer to play in the Northeast and, specifically, for the New York Rangers. It’s whispered at events. It’s floated through the rumor mill.
In talking about Shattenkirk turning down as much as $42 million over six years with another team, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said, “a lot of teams are thinking that money isn’t the be-all and end-all, that he’s truly trying to pick his spot on where to play next season.”
To which Elliotte Freidman muttered: “Rangers.”
TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes Shattenkirk will be traded, and that the freight coming back for him is going to be as much as the Wild gave up for Martin Hanzal “if not more.”
That was a first, a second and a conditional pick that could become a second-rounder in each of the next three drafts. The Rangers have a first-round pick this season, as well as a second this season and two next season. Center Oscar Lindberg could be in play, as a pending RFA. So could forward prospects Matt Puempel, Nick Jensen and Ryan Gropp. One assumes they’d like to kick Kevin Klein back to the Blues to help make the money work.
But the real intrigue here with the Rangers and Shattenkirk isn’t getting the deal done, as the Blueshirts have the assets to make this happen; it’s the part in which we believe Shattenkirk wants to be a Ranger, and how that affects his value and the value the Blues could get back for him.
The 28-year-old doesn’t have trade protection. But the value the Blues get back from a team that signs Shattenkirk to a long-term deal as part of a trade is better than the value they get for him as a rental. In the Rangers’ case, his desire to play there makes things like conditional draft picks much more interesting, for example.
And his desire to go long-term with a team is, apparently, a big deal, considering that Shattenkirk all but killed one deal because he wouldn’t agree to an extension before the trade.
Which brings us to another facet of this situation, which is whether the Rangers are better off hanging onto their assets and signing Shattenkirk as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. They’ll have $9.85 million in projected cap space next season.
They’d also avoid an expansion draft migraine as the Rangers have to protect Marc Staal and Dan Girardi on their blueline (because of no-move clauses) and will of course protect Ryan McDonagh. So the Rangers would either have to protect eight skaters and/or cut a side deal with the Golden Knights.
But on the other hand … Henrik Lundqvist isn’t getting any younger, the Rangers have a strong team and Kevin Shattenkirk makes them much stronger this season. A puck-moving defenseman is a gaping hole in that lineup, one that Keith Yandle was supposed to fill until he didn’t. And Shattenkirk would help that middle-of-the-pack power play (18.9 percent).
So Shattenkirk’s likely to be traded, and the Rangers are allegedly his desired end point. Just like they were for Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who asked for a trade and limited his options to the point where the Rangers only made sense. Just like they were for Marty St. Louis, whose geographic yearnings combined with a falling out with the Tampa Bay Lightning and led to a trade to his only desired destination in New York.
It’s starting to feel like a matter of when, not how, Kevin Shattenkirk ends up wearing a Rangers jersey, even if it’s not at this trade deadline.
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