Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

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Hartnett: Rangers Are Ready To Move On From Kevin Shattenkirk

Sean Hartnett
July 29, 2019 - 1:17 pm
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It isn’t going to be much of a surprise if Kevin Shattenkirk is no longer a member of the New York Rangers by 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Rangers will be able to use the 48-hour buyout window to open up much-needed cap room and buying out the veteran defenseman is the most obvious and logical course of action.

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With Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox added this offseason to go along with Tony DeAngelo, the Rangers possess three younger, healthier and more viable right-handed defensemen with brighter futures. No matter how you slice it, there isn’t a scenario where Shattenkirk would play a significant role in 2019-20.

Trouba leads the right side and will serve as a minute-eater in all situations. Even when Shattenkirk was healthy, DeAngelo claimed his minutes on the power play. The Rangers want Fox to play right away.

Sometimes, rookies making the jump from college to the NHL struggle with the faster pace that comes with the sport’s highest level. There’s no way of knowing now whether Fox will take to the NHL like a duck to water, or if he requires AHL development.

Still, a Shattenkirk who is relegated to third-pairing minutes and without a path to contribute on special teams isn’t of much use to the Rangers.

Looking back to his signing on day one of 2017 free agency, few could have foreseen him becoming surplus to requirements two summers later. At the time, Shattenkirk was one of the league’s most productive blue liners and a hugely successful presence in power play situations. He was the league’s second-most productive power play defenseman since the start of the 2011-12 season through 2016-17. His 131 power play points only trailed Erik Karlsson’s league-high 146.

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Injuries, underperformance and rough luck have been a nasty combination during his two years at Madison Square Garden. Shattenkirk was a 56-point man before joining the Blueshirts. He averaged 0.61 points per game across seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and 0.74 points per game in a short stint with the Washington Capitals.

He was close to a sure thing when he signed with the Rangers, especially as he joined on a below-market four-year, $26.6 million contract. Shattenkirk rejected more lucrative, long-term offers to sign for the team he supported as a child.

As the buyout deadline looms, all signs point to the Rangers cutting ties with Shattenkirk and the 30-year-old becoming a reclamation project for another franchise. It wasn’t supposed to end this way – but it’s been all downhill since he suffered a torn meniscus during his first training camp with the Blueshirts.

In the end, the Rangers have little choice. Hard numbers and strong depth on the right side have paved the way for his exit.

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