It's safe to say Kevin Shattenkirk's time with the New York Rangers didn't go as planned. The defenseman was bought out by the team earlier this summer just over halfway through a four-year deal he signed as a marquee free agent in 2017.
Shattenkirk defines his tenure in New York as "not a success story," and that might be understating things. Not only did he struggle to stay healthy and deliver consistency on the team's back end, but the Rangers also gave up on being competitive with the group of players that Shattenkirk agreed to join, deciding instead to enter a rebuilding period -- part of the reason they elected to part ways with the blue liner.
The 30-year-old officially moved on this week, signing a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. While speaking to the media on Tuesday, Shattenkirk opened up about his failed experience in the Big Apple for the first time. He didn't really hold back with his feelings, saying he's "pissed off" about how things turned out, though more at himself than his former club.
Shattenkirk says he was shocked about being bought out by Rangers: "I was pretty pissed off about it."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Shattenkirk: "I think I have a huge chip on my shoulder right now. It didn’t work out with injuries and performance and with the way the direction of the team, the way that kind of deteriorated from when I signed on July 1 to now."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
It's understandable for Shattenkirk to be massively disappointed by the ways things turned out, especially when considering that he turned down seven-year offers from other interested teams in order to sign a four-year, $26.5 million deal with his hometown Rangers, who he cheered for growing up.
At the time, the defenseman downplayed leaving the extra years and money on the table and said signing in New York represented "the best fit for me" and "the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream."
Though he apparently wasn't a fan of the Rangers going into a rebuild, Shattenkirk says he doesn't regret his decision to sign there, nor does he blame the team for cutting ties with him.
Shattenkirk: "I think I’m pissed off at myself for not taking advantage of the opportunity to play at home better and give them a reason to make it a no-brainer that this wouldn’t be their decision."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
Adds he's no fan of Rangers going into rebuild.
Shattenkirk: "I’m not mad at the decision. Definitely not. A lot of these things, they have to be learning experiences." Doesn't regret signing with Rangers.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) August 5, 2019
All things considered, Shattenkirk has a pretty good shot to land on his feet in Tampa. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to be a steady contributor to a high-powered Lightning team that finished last season as Presidents' Trophy winners with an incredible 128 points during the regular season before flaming out via a first-round sweep in the playoffs.
If he uses that chip on his shoulder to rediscover the magic that made him a premier free agent just a few years ago, he'll make this one-year deal look like a big-time bargain while playing for a legitimate contender, then potentially cash in once again on the free agent market as a 31-year-old next summer.