File this one under “Unsurprising”.
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, the Rangers are among the teams who have formally reached out to St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong about pending UFA defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) February 2, 2017
Shattenkirk, who grew up in New Rochelle, New York, is arguably the NHL’s worst kept secret with regard to his desire to continue his playing career with an east coast team. While the Bruins and Flyers have both been mentioned by name, the Rangers are believed to be his destination of choice—an interest he’s expressed through NHL back channels via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and others.
Given the known commodities churning in the rumor mill, Shattenkirk is arguably the most valuable defender likely to swap uniforms as we approach the runway to the 2017 trade deadline. That generally doesn’t play well with the report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie during an intermission report on NBCSN back on January 25th in which he said:
“Shattenkirk would fit the bill for a lot of teams including the Rangers. But here’s the problem—right now the New York Rangers are not necessarily in the mode and definitely don’t want to be mortgaging the future anymore. They gave up first-round picks for too many years in a row. Now, never say never on Shattenkirk, but the St. Louis Blues are not going to give this guy away. It’s not going to be a soft deal by any stretch, especially if the team they’re trading Shattenkirk to is one where he may decide to sign long-term.”
Logic would dictate that the price to acquire Shattenkirk would be exorbitant, which conflicts with the Rangers apparent buyers remorse regarding how many high-end Draft picks and prospects they’ve dealt away in recent years. However, McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger may have done the market, and the Rangers by way of, a major solid when he went public on Thursday with a report that suggested that teams are balking at the valuation the Blues’ have on Shattenkirk.
“And the reality is Shattenkirk is viewed at best as a second-pairing defenseman,” said Dreger. “Some teams that I talk to have him as a No. 5 guy. He’s terrific on the power play.
“But that’s a decision as an organization you have to make. Do you want to pay a 4-5 guy $7 million or more on a long term. Probably not.”
There’s no doubt the Blueshirts could use a shot in the arm on the blue line, particularly on the right side where they’ve struggled with competency while juggling declining veterans like Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein. But what kind of return are they willing to send back, and is that cost worth paying if Shattenkirk could be had for nothing but money this July instead? Furthermore, if Shattenkirk’s reported asking price on a new deal is to be taken seriously, how willing should the Rangers be in offering it to him given their relatively poor track record in signing high-priced UFA players to long-term deals?
These questions need answering, but one thing is for certain—the Shattenkirk front will be one of significant interest from a Rangers perspective as we draw closer and closer to the deadline.