The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals were expected to lose many of their unrestricted free agents this summer, and that scenario indeed played out on July 1. Longtime defenseman Karl Alzner signed with the Montreal Canadiens and three-time Stanley Cup champion Justin Williams inked a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, trade deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk, who was arguably the top free agent on the market, signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract with the New York Rangers, one of the Capitals’ Metropolitan Division rivals. The deal will pay the 28-year-old defenseman $6.65 annually.
Shattenkirk, who infamously played for Boston University during his college years, actually grew up in New Rochelle, New York, which is 20 miles from Madison Square Garden. Shattenkirk, who has the text “New Yorker at heart” in his Twitter bio, took less term and money to play for his hometown team.
“When it came down to it, [it was] not a numbers or terms thing, but it was where was going to be the best fit for me,” Shattenkirk said hours after he signed. “Obviously, the opportunity to play for my lifelong favorite team and to live out a lifelong dream was something that I couldn’t let pass by.”
Shattenkirk further elaborated on his deal with the NHL Network.
How excited has your family been?
Kevin Shattenkirk: “It’s been a lot of fun here. There’s family and friends out here and I’m able to experience it with them. The past hour or so has been more of a sense of relief to have this over. The giddiness is starting to set in. The only tough part about these decisions is now there’s a couple of months before we can start to get to work. Until I really get to meet my teammates and get to go through training camp with them, I’m just going to be really enjoying this moment and getting prepared for what I’m hoping to be my best season yet.”
Did you have thoughts of playing with the Rangers before the trade deadline?
Kevin Shattenkirk: “I think I always envisioned myself being a Ranger the moment I stepped on the ice as a kid. I don’t think that the past year or so, it was in my mind, but it seemed there were a lot of other options out there, and I was open to really anything. There were a lot of great deals that were presented to me over the last week that I really gave strong consideration to. I’m just thankful that I have this opportunity to play with a team that I’ve grown up loving. Ultimately, that’s what weighed in on this decision was that I was able to take a chance and not have any regrets. I can say at the end of my career that I was able to play for the team I loved growing up as a kid.”
What was the week like leading up to free agency? Were you anxious? Nervous? What were your emotions?
Kevin Shattenkirk: “I think you could check off all of those boxes as far as what emotions ran through me this week. It was anxiousness. It was happiness. It was sadness. It was a lot of different things that… it changed on an day to day basis. One day you maybe not getting what you want. The next day, things completely change and a team gives you an offer and you’re feeling happy and wanted again. When it came down to today, the teams that were left in the mix made me feel like I was player they all really wanted. Once it came down to money and term, I had to put those aside and look at the factors… playing with Ryan McDonagh… playing on a team that I think is very close to winning a Stanley Cup… playing with a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist who I think has a lot of good years left ahead of him. I’m looking forward to trying to be that piece that helps us win that Stanley Cup. For me to be able to do that in my home city would be amazing.”
Roughly how many teams were offering a seven-year deal?
Kevin Shattenkirk: “I think there were a couple teams that were interested in it but for the most part, the teams that I wanted to be part of were more interested in a shorter deal. For me, it was about the right fit and being in the right place to succeed as a player. You have to weigh out those options: term vs. looking at how this deal will set me up for hopefully another deal after this. It’s good that it’s a four-year-deal right now, but I feel I have a good opportunity here to play some great hockey, play in a big market that if you’re successful, it sets you up in the long run for sure. To be able to look forward and look down the road, I think the Rangers where hopefully I can stay past four years. If it’s a four-year deal and a three-year deal with the Rangers it’s still a seven-year deal.”
How excited are you to make your debut in New York as a Ranger?
Kevin Shattenkirk: “I haven’t even gotten to look at the schedule yet, talking to so many people. The home opener is right now, it’s hard to put in words. There are going to be more people than I even know and more people that came along and helped me in this process as a young kid to where I am now to become an NHL player. They are going to be in stands, and I may not know, but I’m grateful for the type of support I’m going to receive from the people who truly care and helped me become the person I am today. That home opener is going to be absolutely electric, not only for our team but for me. It’s going to be a matter of me managing my emotions and not trying to play out of my element, but really it’s going to be just a dream come true and I’m really going to try and enjoy that. Hopefully, I’m going to play a good season for the New York Rangers.”
Headline photo: Bruce Bennett
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