Just a week after having signed goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to an eight-year contract extension, the Tampa Bay Lightning were back at it on Monday, signing veteran defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
If you take a look back to Tuesday the 30th of July, Joe Smith of The Athletic suggested that the Lightning take another stab at the 30-year-old blue-liner who spent the entirety of last season playing at Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York.
Adding to that, he noted that Tampa Bay could make an interesting fit, but that did not hold him back from speculating that perhaps he could take on a larger role playing somewhere else and taking part on the power play as well.
Now, while this is just one single factor that came into play with the veteran’s signing, it also came down to cap space, something the team cleared prior to the weekend when they traded right-winger Ryan Callahan to the Ottawa Senators for backstop Mike Condon.
In doing so, Condon comes over to an organization that is wealthy in goalies, meanwhile, sending Callahan to the Ottawa Senators while also shedding his $5.8 million cap hit. That of course being the remainder of his six-year contract with the Lightning in Tampa.
Not only that, but with one season remaining on his deal, Callahan also is down on his luck as he was placed on long-term injured reserve after suffering a career-ending back injury. That being said, not only was Shattenkirk the direct result of cap flexibility with $2 million to fill, but it was also about extra roster space which Julien BriseBois was eager to fill.
Taking a look back at the Lightning goaltending and how that situation will now work itself out, behind Vasilevsky at this time alongside Condon is Curtis McElhinney and Louis Domingue. However, it is important to note that Mike Condon will likely find himself playing in the AHL as he now becomes the sixth netminder to sign a contract with the organization.
Bringing the attention back now to Kevin Shattenkirk who made it passed the league’s free agent frenzy, he joins a younger roster coached by Jon Cooper spearheaded as a leader alongside Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh, alike Kevin Shattenkirk, is a former member of the New York Rangers, the 30-year-old defensemen coming over from Manhattan, having joined the Lightning alongside J.T. Miller.
The two were acquired from New York as part of a blockbuster deal in February 2018. In taking a deeper look now at Kevin Shattenkirk, the American defensemen was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round (14th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and has since become a highly valued asset both in the clubhouse and on the ice with any NHL squad. He has proven this time and time again in stints with the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and the Rangers.
Shattenkirk was bought out by the Rangers after spending the last two seasons in his hometown of New York. During that time from 2017-2019, the New Rochelle, NY native recorded a total of 28 points through a total of 73 games played. In addition to that, he skated an average of 18:56 minutes per night.
Prior to joining the Rangers, Shattenkirk split a season between the Blues and the Washington Capitals, one where he outperformed en route to 56 points, a career-high total for him in the NHL. While the Lightning are only now acquiring the services of Kevin Shattenkirk, it reportedly isn’t the first time that they have sought out his acquisition as Tom Gulitti of NHL.com notes that the club tried to trade for the veteran in 2017, but saw the trade between the two sides rejected.
While the Lightning and Rangers are familiar with the front offices of one another via trade, perhaps it is valuable to note that in addition to bringing on former Rangers aside from Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Callahan and J.T. Miller, the club has also seen bouts with Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi.
Back to Shattenkirk’s season statistics, in his second year with the New York Rangers, the 30-year-old had a better season, excelling most of his previous numbers aside from goals, scoring only two goals and 26 assists, making for 28 points registered through a total of 73 games played. Alongside his main set of statistics, Shattenkirk also recorded 20 penalty minutes and a -15 Plus/Minus rating.
A short time after having signed, Shattenkirk spoke with the media via conference call where he said about his fresh start with a new organization in the Tampa Bay Lightning, “I think I have a huge chip on my shoulder right now. I want to show I’m back to my old self and prove that I can be a player in this league again.”
As for the thoughts of Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois, he said with regards to Shattenkirk signing, “After a full summer of training when he’s healthy and he feels confident in his leg, we expect him to be a strong contributor for our team this coming season.”
During the phone conference, Shattenkirk was asked about how he feels coming over to Tampa and the adjustment that will take on the ice and with respect to the change in conference, the blue-liner answered in saying, “It’s just a matter of gaining that respect again on the ice from other teams and my opponents — feel like I’m more of a threat like I used to be.”
Shattenkirk was then asked about being bought out by the New York Rangers which he didn’t see coming previously and in response to being asked about how that plays with a player’s mind personally, he said, “It’s definitely not a success story. A lot of these things, they have to be learning experiences.”
Further to that degree, Shattenkirk spoke about being ticked off to have been bought out by his hometown team, but understood the reality of the decision as he said to Stephen Whyno, “I think I’m pissed off at myself for not taking advantage of the opportunity to play at home better and give them a reason to make it a no-brainer that this wouldn’t be their decision.”
Speaking of the decision that was jointly made by the Rangers front office, Shattenkirk said in response to Stephen Whyno when asked about emotion against the organization, “I’m not mad at the decision. Definitely not. A lot of these things, they have to be learning experiences.”
That being said, Shattenkirk attempted to stay positive and knew he would be back in the saddle sooner rather than later when he stated that he considered signing with six or seven NHL teams after the Rangers bought out his contract. However, the Lightning won out on the bid as he now joins Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point.
When speaking in greater lengths about having been bought out by the Rangers on Thursday, Shattenkirk voiced frustration, not only about New York’s move towards a rebuild, but about his own play as well which he will look to improve on this season when he opens a new chapter in October.
For the Lightning, training camp gets underway with a preseason scrimmage against Carolina, a matchup that will be played at home with puck drop falling at 7:00pmET. Six more preseason matches will follow that up to close out September before Tampa Bay plays host to the Florida Panthers to ring in the new season on October 3rd. Puck drop for that game has been scheduled for 7:00pmET.