Few people in the hockey world were surprised when prize free-agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk signed with the New York Rangers this past July 1st. It had been an open secret for months that Shattenkirk was only interested in signing with his hometown team, choosing the Rangers over offers from the Washington Capitals and others.
And while the 28-year-old blue liner has put up five goals and 22 points in 38 games, it hasn’t been a perfect marriage for Shattenkirk and the Rangers so far. In assessing Shattenkirk’s play for the assembled media this morning, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault described it as a “work in progress.” Ouch. That’s not what you want to hear when you invest four years and $26.6 million in a franchise player.
The Rangers currently sit fourth in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division with a 20-13-5 record. Again, Shattenkirk hasn’t been bad by any means, he leads the team’s defense in scoring by a large margin but his -6 =/- rating has to be of concern.
Given Vigneault’s comments today, expect all eyes to be on Shattenkirk, the hometown boy, as the Rangers take on the Buffalo Sabres outdoors tomorrow at Citi Field for the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.