Depending on who you ask, the New York Rangers signing of star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on the opening day of free-agency was either mildly surprising or a foregone conclusion. Rumors had swirled for months that the 28 year-old blue liner would end up on Broadway as the two sides clearly had mutual interest in a deal all along.
In the end, Shattenkirk indeed came to terms with the Rangers on a four year, $26.6 million contract after a failed experiment on the Washington Capitals blue line. Acquired by the Caps from the St. Louis Blues in advance of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, Shattenkirk was counted on to help the team get over the hump and finally ascend to glory in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Of course, the Caps ran into Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and the rest is history.
While Shattenkirk can’t be solely blamed for the Caps’ post-season failure, he shoulders much of the blame. He was defensively exposed in the team’s second round matchup against the Penguins and simply didn’t contribute offensively as he was expected. Still, despite being a lightning rod for criticism himself, Shattenkirk couldn’t help but criticize his former team while heading out the door.
In a conference call with reporters Shattenkirk spoke about the reasons he chose the Rangers over other options like the Capitals, saying, “I’m looking forward to joining a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup and that's also a lifelong dream for me."
So… the Capitals aren’t capable of winning a Stanley Cup? Ouch. This is a team has won back-to-back President’s Trophies as the NHL’s top regular season team. Of course, they’re also back-to-back second round playoff losers, so Shattenkirk’s point is well made. But, no matter how you interpret the comment, it’s clear that the star blue liner likes his chance of winning the game’s ultimate prize better in New York than in Washington DC.