A big decision looms for both the Rangers and Kevin Shattenkirk tomorrow

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The Rangers are just a day away from the opening bell of Free Agent Frenzy 2017. After trading Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona, plus buying out Dan Girardi, Jeff Gorton gained much needed cap space. A ton of room to transform his team.

The Transformation Has Begun

One of Gorton’s main objectives was to lock up Brendan Smith, who showed amazing chemistry with Brady Skjei in the playoffs. The 28 year old signed for 4 years at a cap hit of 4.35M, which was a little high but had to be done to avoid a bidding war on July 1st.  As it stands right now, the Rangers have $15.650M in space but if the Kevin Klein retirement rumors are true, that number will rise to $18.5M.

Some of that money will have to go to RFA’s Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast. Of course, the Rangers could opt to give them bridge deals and save money. The risk of course is you may lose them to free agency when their contracts expire. However, with a new CBA approaching in 2020, that is the route they should take.

This will allow the Rangers to hit the market and try and lure Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau to center the top line. Of course, they need to be smart and not lock up either veteran center to no more than a 2 year deal at a reasonable cap hit. There are other options as well like Nick Bonino and Sam Gagner. Tomorrow we will see how they attack those needs.

Shattenkirk is the FREE AGENT

Logic dictates that the Rangers did not free up all that cap space to give to Joe Thornton. Unless, there is a landscape changing trade for the Rangers to land a #1 center Shattenkirk has to be THE target.

Now here’s the latest…

FulltiltNYR has learned that Shattenkirk was recently in NJ. This strengthens the latest reports that the Devils are ready to unload a boatload of cash at his feet. The Buffalo Sabres are also ready to break the bank on Shattenkirk as well. Both these teams are rumored to possibly go 7×7! That means an almost $50M pay day for the 28 year old right handed power play QB.

No other team is going to come close. Tampa Bay does have the leverage of no State tax, and even though Shattenkirk rejected a deal to send him there in January he could decide to go now. Boston has also been a rumored player, but seem to be the least likely to get him.

The situation with the Rangers

Shattenkirk’s Twitter Profile

We reported on June 12th, that a source close to Shattenkirk’s family stated he would take less to play here. The key of course is just how much less is “less”. According to two sources now, Shattenkirk has said he will not take a discount to play for the Rangers.

Of course, this information has come out once teams were allowed to talk to free agents leading up to July 1st (note: can’t talk specific terms). This could just be posturing from Shattenkirk’s camp to combat what we are learning through insiders like McKenzie and Friedman that the Rangers will not go crazy with their money.

The Rangers need a RHD to pair with Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers need a PP QB. Shattenkirk fills the bill. One interesting thing to note, with the addition of Lindy Ruff to the staff, how much of a say does he have here? Ruff has seen Shattenkirk up close for years in St. Louis while coaching Dallas. He will certainly have input.

Where does this end?

Based on the latest information I’ve gathered, the Rangers still remain the favorite to land Shattenkirk’s services. However, I am not as confident as I was just 2 weeks ago. This will likely play out with Shattenkirk’s agent taking NJ’s and BUF’s offers to Gorton. Thus putting the ball in the Rangers court.

This is where the decision gets made, does Gorton up his offer which should already be somewhere in the 5.5Mx6yr area. I believe he will, but it will not come close to 7×7. So if Shattenkirk really wants to play for his childhood/hometown team, he will be leaving a large sum of money on the table. That’s a lot to ask of an athlete who’s career could end with one bad injury on the ice.

Should Gorton decide to go around 6M for 6 years, I think the deal could get done. We will update you as soon as we learn more.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore