The Tampa Bay Lightning have added another former New York Rangers player to the mix, signing recently bought out Kevin Shattenkirk to a one-year contract. The deal carries a $1.75MM salary and a full no-trade clause.
Shattenkirk, 30, saw his performance and role with the Rangers decline over his two years in New York and when it came time for them to clear salary to accommodate Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, he was one of the first to go. As we wrote when he was bought out last week it took him very little time to find a landing spot given his history of success and the lack of available depth at the positions. The defense market has been all but picked clean (except perhaps for Jake Gardiner who remains unsigned) meaning Shattenkirk immediately became a desirable asset despite his recent play.
For $1.75MM, the Lightning are betting he’ll be able to rediscover some of the magic he had with the St. Louis Blues. During parts of six seasons in St. Louis Shattenkirk was one of the most productive offensive defensemen in the league, recording 258 points in 425 games. A powerplay dynamo who also logged big minutes at even-strength, Shattenkirk even received Norris Trophy votes on three different occasions. Even in New York he was still able to record 51 points in 119 games, though his all-around performance declined and he was sheltered heavily away from tough defensive matchups.
Tampa Bay already has two elite defensemen in Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh along with an impressive group that also includes Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak and Braydon Coburn. Shattenkirk will essentially be replacing outgoing veterans (and former Rangers) Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, though he obviously plays a bit different role than either one.
The signing is obviously a bargain for a player that was once one of the most dynamic defensemen in the league, but it also does tighten the purse strings a little bit further in Tampa Bay. The team still has Brayden Point and Adam Erne sitting as unsigned restricted free agents with now just over $9.3MM in cap space. Though there are ways to add a bit to that total—Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph and Cernak are all still waiver-exempt, for instance—it still doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to fit in a long-term deal with Point that could approach $10MM per season depending on term. If the team decides to do a bridge deal like they have with several other high profile RFAs however, there shouldn’t be a cap issue in Tampa Bay this year.