Why Kevin Shattenkirk Is NOT The Answer
Around the trade deadline, all of the conversation amongst Rangers fans was about acquiring then St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He certainly has value to the Blueshirts being a right-handed shot who is good both offensively and defensively. And while he would certainly improve the blue line, the cost at which it would come might not be so worth it.
With the Rangers defense in a need of change, they are in a bit of a tight spot. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are both under contract until 2020 and 2021, respectively, and both have no move clauses on their deals. This makes them high-priced anchors, whose value will only decrease as the years go by. Which leaves the Rangers with Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei as the only Blueshirts blueliners who are good on both ends of the ice.
So how should the Rangers look to fill this void? If they go after Shattenkirk, he will command at least a five million dollar payday for his services. In order to do so, the Rangers would have to buy out either Girardi or Staal, so they are not completely burned by lengthy and expensive contracts. And though Shattenkirk will be in his prime years during this contract, his cost may not be worth it.
Brendan Smith, who the Rangers acquired at the 2017 trade deadline, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Smith showed his talents in his short time on Broadway, and he would be worth every penny. Signing Smith for around 3.5 million dollars would be a great start to their offseason, and it would leave some money left to sign more complimentary pieces, such as Cody Franson or Kris Russell. Jeff Gorton can also look to bring up some of his prospects from Hartford, such as Ryan Graves, John Gilmour or newly signed NCAA free agents Neal Pionk and Vince Pedrie.
This will be a pivotal summer for the Rangers future. It is very likely that Dan Girardi or Marc Staal will be bought out in the offseason, which will clear up some much-needed cap space. That leaves one question: does Jeff Gorton put all his eggs in the Kevin Shattenkirk basket? Or will he “spread the wealth” and sign two or three players for the price of one? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: the Rangers defense must improve if this team wants to win a Stanley Cup.