In case you missed it, and based on the last few weeks, you haven’t, the Rangers are in a middle of a rebuild. The announcement came one year after the Rangers signed Kevin Shattenkirk to round out their blue line for a Cup run. That clearly didn’t go as planned.
Shattenkirk has seemingly been replaced –rightly or wrongly– on PP1 by Neal Pionk. His point totals are way down because of this. His full season possession numbers are some of the best on the team, but when you look at a game-by-game review, he’s being held up by a few excellent games, overshadowing the majority of poor outings.
It seems that both player and team are at a crossroads. It makes sense for the Rangers to try to move Shattenkirk, as he can still fetch a good amount from a contending team. There are salary complications, with two years at $6.65 million cap hit remaining. However the real dollars go down to $6.6 million and $4 million the next two years. He also has a ten team no-trade list (his NMC is for demotions only). Of all the pricey blue liners, Shattenkirk is most easily moved.
The Leafs need blue line help if they are going to truly compete with the Bolts. Currently their best RHD is Nikita Zaitsev. That’s….not good. The concern from Toronto’s standpoint is they have both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner up for big contracts next year, probably taking $20 million combined. That sucks up the rest of their cap space.
Now a few things on Toronto’s cap issues: They have Nathan Horton on LTIR, so they have an “extra” $5.3 million to work with through next season. Ideally for the Leafs they send Patrick Marleau over to offset salary, but he has a full NMC and likely isn’t giving up his last shot for a Cup. There are no other players the Leafs could give up for salary relief that the Rangers would take.
So we are probably looking at the Rangers retaining on Shattenkirk, which is fine. At 50% retained ($3.325 million), the Rangers open up more trade options. The last time Shatty was traded from STL to WSH, he fetched:
- A 2017 first rounder
- A solid prospect in Zach Sanford (a former second round pick)
- Brad Malone (a body)
- A conditional pick with conditions so complicated it took an entire SBNation article to review.
This was for one Cup run with Shattenkirk. The Leafs would, in theory, get three runs with him. So at 50% retained, the price would be higher. If we assume the Rangers aren’t going to be able to take roster players from Toronto, then we are looking at something much larger.
The price from Toronto is, at the very least, a 1st rounder, another mid pick (3rd-5th), and a solid to great prospect (think Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren). This isn’t just a rental for Toronto, they are getting a 1RD for two and a half seasons and three playoff runs. You have to give to get, Leafs fans.
Vegas missed out on Erik Karlsson, and their best RD right now is Colin Miller. If they still think they can compete, then Shattenkirk could be a target for them. The same price applies, although it may go down a bit if the Rangers don’t need to retain salary. There’s some room for salary offsets (ironically enough in the form of Nick Holden).
For Vegas, we would be looking at the same level of compensation (1st + solid prospect). However I can see the second mid-pick being lower because salary isn’t retained. Think Nikita Gusev or Erik Brannstrom. Again, Vegas fans, this is a three year player, not a rental. You need to give to get.
As of right now, Vegas and Toronto are the only two teams that stand out to me as needing defensemen and seemingly willing to take on a multi-year contract like Shattenkirk’s. Toronto seems like the most likely destination if the Rangers move on from Shatty. Nothing is guaranteed, though.