Kevin Shattenkirk is the lynchpin for the Rangers rebuild on defense
With the 2017-18 season being the way it was, it’s easy for a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk to fly under the radar heading into next season. With so much drama and change surrounding the organization, from big name players being shipped off at the deadline, Alain Vigneault being fired, and looking ahead at all of the young prospects and picks this team has to work with, veteran guys like Shattenkirk are almost forgotten and ignored heading into the first season in a rebuild.
Back on July 1st of last year, the Rangers got their main guy in free agency. Kevin Shattenkirk signed a four-year contract worth $6.65 per season. Whether you agreed with the contract at that time or not, it’s clear what Shattenkirk brings to the table each and every game. The offensive-defenseman is the quarterback on the power play and is the first one to throw the puck on met in the offensive zone. We saw that through 46 games as a Ranger in his first year with the club, as he posted 23 points with 18 of those being assists.
Unfortunately, Shattenkirk what shut down for the second half of the season after needing surgery on a meniscus tear in his left knee. So, when Shattenkirk goes down and the team implodes and sells for a plethora of young assets, the now 100% healthy Shattenkirk is pushed aside for the time being. Not because the Rangers don’t care, but because the focus in now on a new coach, the draft, and free agency.
Vets in a Rebuild
When a club decides to rebuild, many fans want to see all veterans of the team gone for picks or prospects. However, guys like Shattenkirk are needed on a squad like the Blueshirts will have next season. A guy to lead by example for the younger guys, and take on a bigger role as now a top defenseman on the team. Often times under former head coach Alain Vigneault, Shattenkirk was found on the third defensive pair next to Marc Staal. Now, with a new coach yet to be hired, I think it’s safe to say that Shattenkirk will have an elevalated role in the defensive group with a bunch of young guns behind him.
Even though I’m sure rebuilding wasn’t in the mind of Kevin Shattenkirk when he inked his contract, the team being in full rebuild won’t change the way he plays. In the 2016-17 season, Shattenkirk posted 56 points through 80 games between his time with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals. Wherever he goes, his offensive presence is felt, and that will be key for the young Rangers defenseman come October. Since the 2013-2014, Kevin Shattenkirk has put up more than 40 points per season, if he had remained healthy, it would have been another.
Even though we’re all caught up on a new coach, picks and prospects for now, Kevin Shattenkirk will remind us all on why he signed here in the first place, and why he’s so crucial for a young Rangers defensive core.