The New York Rangers biggest need might just be acquiring a top defenseman and the Rangers are going to give a long, hard look at Washington Capitals’ blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk. The 28-year old veteran is coming off his best offensive season yet, scoring 13 goals and 43 assists for 56 points for the Capitals and Blues combined. Pro Hockey Rumors reporter Gavin Lee recently said in his PHR Chat on Thursday that he believes that Shattenkirk will end up with the Rangers.
The Rangers need a new presence on defense. They especially need a top-four defenseman who they can pair up with captain Ryan McDonough. Veteran Dan Girardi has struggled mightily of late and at age 33, isn’t likely to have a comeback year. Girardi is more likely to find himself taking a reduced role next season, which means they must acquire a top blueliner. Enter Shattenkirk, who immediately would help the Blueshirt’s power play as the veteran is second only to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson in power play points by a defenseman.
The only question is can they afford the defenseman? Sean Hartnett of CBS New York writes that he believes that Shattenkirk will cost the team a seven-year deal of at least 6.5MM annually. The team would have trouble fitting that type of contract under their salary cap unless they looked into relieving themselves of a bloated contract, such as Girardi. The defenseman has been with the Rangers for 12 years, but has struggled lately, especially showing his shortcomings in the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators as he showed he could not keep up with their speedy forwards. His four goals and 11 assists was one of his worst seasons yet on offense. Hartnett suggests the team may look into a buyout of Girardi to free up enough money to make a run at Shattenkirk. Unfortunatey, Girardi has three years left at 5.5MM each year. However, if New York wanted to buy out Girardi, they could spread his salary out over the next six years.
The scribe also suggested the team could consider buying out 30-year-old Marc Staal instead, who could have his contract spread out over eight years as he has four years left at $5.7MM. Staal also struggled at the blueline this year and only was able to put up 10 points this season. One final suggestion to fix their aging defensive corps would be to try and trade for Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, but that would require a large and impressive package of talent they would have to return, so Shattenkirk might make for a better fit in New York. Either way, it looks like the Rangers will have to do something to fix up that defense.