Offseason Targets: Kevin Shattenkirk


At the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, former Edmonton Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli very nearly completed a few different blockbuster trades. One of them was with the St. Louis Blues, and would have involved offensive defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk heading to Northern Alberta. The deal never happened, and Shattenkirk was traded to the Washington Capitals a few months later.

After signing a massive free agent deal with the New York Rangers, Shattenkirk’s career took a surprising downward turn. He simply couldn’t succeed with his hometown team, and was bought out last summer. Now, the veteran defenseman is one win away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance, and has looked like his old self in the process.

If Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland truly wants to change the complexion of his team, signing someone like Shattenkirk this October would do it. Could Holland trade Adam Larsson and replace his minutes with Shattenkirk?

Why Is He Out There?:

Shattenkirk signed a one-year ‘prove it’ contract with the Lightning last August after his surprising buyout from the Rangers. The idea, for both sides, was to use each other for one reason or another. For the Lighting, they acquired another puck moving defenseman with top-four ability. For Shattenkirk, he’d be put in a situation to succeed. It’s worked out for everyone, and Shattenkirk is primed to sign a decent contract next month.

It’s almost certain that contract will not come from the Lightning. The fit between the two is excellent, but the salary cap makes continuing this relationship nearly impossible. The Lightning have $76,166,666 committed to just 15 players, and they’ll need to re-sign players like Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev.

There just isn’t room for Shattenkirk to re-sign.

What Does He Do Well?:

If you want an offensive defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk is your man. He’s got an excellent first pass, strong offensive instincts, a good point shot and powerplay ability. If you need to improve your transition game from defense to offense, and the Oilers do, this is a pretty solid player to target.

Shattenkirk averaged 18:54 per game this season, posting a Corsi For of 54.1% (2.9% relative). He scored 34 points (8 g, 26 a) and was +22 for a Tampa Bay team that finished second in the Atlantic Division. The impressive part of Shattenkirk’s offensive performance was that 20 of his 26 assists actually came at even strength. He was not reliant on the powerplay like some offensive defensemen are.

In reality, the underlying numbers for Shattenkirk were pretty good in New York too. Prior to getting bought out, he posted a 50.4% Corsi For in 73 games during the 2018-19 season. That was significantly better than what the Rangers were doing with the puck when Shattenkirk was on the bench (5.6% CF rel).

(All stats via hockey-reference)

Here’s a look at Shattenkirk’s scouting report via The Sports Forecaster.

Has excellent offensive capability and all-round acumen. Good in transition, his quickness, talent and poise with the puck are assets. Can make an impact on the power play. Not big, he is stronger than he looks and will use the body effectively in the NHL. Can struggle against bigger forwards in front of his own net, as he isn’t the biggest or strongest defenseman in the league. When he is not on top of his overall game, he goes into defensive slumps and can be somewhat of a liability in his own zone.

Where Should He Play / Where Will He Play?:

Shattenkirk has played more of a third-pairing role for the Lightning, but can be trusted with more. Throughout the course of his career, he’s been a top-four defenseman. For the most part, outside of maybe the 2017-18 season, he’s been largely successful in that role. Shattenkirk is a second-pairing option who should be getting a steady diet of powerplay time.

In Edmonton, he’d be the team’s second best right-shot option behind Ethan Bear immediately. If the Oilers do trade Larsson for help elsewhere, he’d start on one of the top two pairs and would almost certainly replace Oscar Klefbom on the top powerplay unit.

What Will He Cost?:

Shattenkirk signed his one-year deal with the Lightning on August 5th, 2019. The deal carries a cap hit of $1,750,000. He’ll earn both more dollars and term on the deal he signs next month.

Shattenkirk is likely looking at something in the neighborhood of three years and $3,000,0000 – $3,500,000. That’s a pretty good payday in a flat-cap world and when the Rangers are still paying him a buyout.

Closing Argument:

The Oilers need more offensive production from their defensive group, there is simply no denying that. Shattenkirk would give them a bonafide offensive option from the point. They haven’t had that player since Justin Schultz was on the blueline. Needless to say, Shattenkirk is a better player than Schultz was.

Signing Shattenkirk would improve the Oilers offensive output at five-on-five, would improve their powerplay (believe it or not), and would greatly help a transition game that lacked at times a season ago.

If Holland is serious about changing the complexion of his blueline, Shattenkirk is an option that should be on the board.

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