When the Washington Capitals acquired star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues in advance of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, it was believed by most to be a short-term addition for a lengthy post-season run. While the latter never materialized and there’s a faint chance that Shattenkirk re-signs with the team, it’s more than likely that the “short-term” is indeed coming to a close. With unrestricted free-agency looming of July 1st for Shattenkirk, it’s likely that he’ll leave the Capitals and sign a monster contract elsewhere. But, hold on Caps fans, Kevin Shattenkirk can still provide the team with some value even if he leaves.
You see, with the Vegas Golden Knights officially joining the NHL this offseason, the offseason rules surrounding free agent negotiations and signings are slightly modified. If Shattenkirk informs the Capitals that he will not re-sign in DC, general manager Brian MacLellan can elect to expose the defenseman in the NHL Expansion Draft. And, because the Golden Knights have an exclusive 72 hour window to negotiate free agent deals in advance of the draft, an agreement with Shattenkirk would qualify as the Golden Knights’ Expansion Draft selection from the Capitals.
In short, if Shattenkirk doesn’t want to re-sign in DC, but is interested in Vegas, he’d be doing the Caps a solid by signing there before July 1st.
How likely is this to happen? Who knows? For what it’s worth though, Shattenkirk has maintained all along that he’d like to view all his options in the market and that likely means he’ll wait until July 1st to sign a new deal. In any case, all eyes will be on this offseason’s prize free-agent the moment the offseason officially hits.