A season after Washington lost in the second round for the third-consecutive year, head coach Barry Trotz had some spiciness for former Capital Kevin Shattenkirk. Last year at the trade deadline, the Caps landed the veteran defenseman, the most sought out player on the market, and Pheonix Copley from the St. Louis Blues for forward prospect Zach Sanford and a first round pick.
Thursday, a reporter asked Trotz after the Caps practice what didn’t work with Shattenkirk last year, despite all the excitement surrounding the deal.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 7, 2017
“I just think it takes a little bit of adjustment,” Trotz said. “We play a little different than some teams. It worked in areas that we wanted. He helped our power play. He made it more dangerous in that. I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2 (top-pairing defenseman), and he really wasn’t, he was a little lower. I think it worked out okay.
“I think he had a patch during the one series where he wasn’t really good,” Trotz continued. “I think he regained it and scored a big goal for us in Pitt. I just think, yeah, the first playoff series wasn’t… that’s what you remember, it sticks out… but I think overall, he was fine.”
The Rangers practiced at Kettler immediately after the Caps did and Shattenkirk responded to Trotz’s comments.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 7, 2017
“It didn’t work out. We didn’t win,” Shattenkirk said initially of Trotz’s comments. “I think as far as my usage (with Washington) here, we had a pretty good committee back there on D. We had a lot of guys sharing responsibilities. That was part of the reason why I was brought here: to help with the load a little bit. I think that’s my job to prove (that I’m a top pairing defenseman), that’s what I’m trying to do now. That’s what I’m working towards everyday here with New York.
“It doesn’t sit well with you,” Shattenkirk continued. “It’s nothing you enjoy hearing. I think there’s a lot of people that probably think that about me. I like to use that in my favor to and try to use it as something to keep me boosted and prove people wrong.”
When Shattenkirk arrived in Washington, he replaced Nate Schmidt in the lineup and skated most of his even-strength time with Brooks Orpik.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) December 7, 2017
Shattenkirk struggled with Orpik, but was successful without him.
Shatty + Orpik (101m): 0 GF, 6 GA, 86.3 SV%
Shatty w/o Orpik (88m): 6 GF, 1 GA, 97.3 SV%
Orpik w/o Shatty (64m): 2 GF, 1 GA, 95.65 SV%
CF% is basically equal for any combo of those two. PDO for Shatty w/Orpik is .864, but over 1.0 each when separated.
— Mike Watson (@mike_watson) December 7, 2017
Shattenkirk put up 14 points in 19 regular season games and led the defense in postseason points with 6.
“It was tough,” Shattenkirk said of the Caps second-round loss to the Penguins last year. “There’s obviously been a lot of tough losses here in the past. I think in the playoffs we were just a little tight. Like you said, nothing really clicked. We didn’t seem to hit on all cylinders all the time. That was frustrating for a lot of us. We knew the talent and the skill we had and just the great team we had in the locker room. To not put it together when it counted was tough.”
Shattenkirk, considered to be one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league, was not brought to DC to play on the top pairing, nor was he was never used that way; Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov carried the load in the playoffs. On top of improving the team’s defensive depth, Shattenkirk was acquired to bolster the team’s power play and give them a pure passer at the point – something John Carlson was scuffling at during the regular season.
Over the offseason, Shattenkirk signed a four-year, $26.6 million deal with his hometown New York Rangers.
“There’s a lot more room for me to grow,” Shattenkirk said. “I think I have to handle those top-end matchups better. When I get those opportunities, I really have to make sure I make them count. A guy like Ryan McDonagh is a good example for me. Someone who I try to watch. The way that he handles players like the Ovechkins, the Backstroms, and the Crosbys, that’s something I’m still working towards. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I think I can get there.”
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