Making this type of free agent splash almost certainly means a buyout of Marc Staal and/or Dan Girardi, but the ripple effect goes beyond the two veterans. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jeff Gorton spends big on Shattenkirk and then shells out another $4 million or so for Brendan Smith. If that’s the case, then we’re all but guaranteed one of Nick Holden, Marc Staal, or Dan Girardi spending another year in the top four. Perhaps a new face, namely Ryan Graves, Neal Pionk, or Alexei Bereglazov can cement a spot, but that’s likely wishful thinking at this point as only Graves has ever played professional hockey in North America.
The pure cost and trickle-down effect in the lineup make a Shattenkirk contract a tough sell. That’s compounded by the fact that, despite all he does well, he’s never been a top-pairing shutdown defenseman and doesn’t have the skins on the wall to warrant such a promotion in New York.