Earlier this week, Larry Brooks made waves by stating Kevin Shattenkirk may be headed towards a buyout. The prized acquisition of the 2017 offseason, Shattenkirk was signed to a very team friendly four year deal at $6.65 million per season. The Rangers were getting a massive upgrade on the recently bought out Dan Girardi, and finally had that top pairing RD to go with Ryan McDonagh.
But that’s not what happened at all. Shattenkirk tore his meniscus in the preseason and was hampered by it all year. Alain Vigneault gave Shattenkirk/McDonagh a whopping 5 shifts together as a top pairing before relegating Shatty to 3rd pairing duties, eventually taking him off the top powerplay unit as well. Knee injury or not, this usage was downright shameful. McDonagh is now with the Lightning.
Now the Rangers are in the middle of a rebuild, and winning is second to development. Shattenkirk has two years after this one at that cap hit, and with Tony DeAngelo seemingly ready to be the puck moving defenseman who plays on PP1, Shattenkirk’s role might be diminished.
The Rangers aren’t hurting for cap space though, so the move to buy out a body that can play big minutes is a bit puzzling, especially when there doesn’t appear to be anyone in the pipe ready to jump in. DeAngelo is the clear cut best RD on the team, but after that it’s Neal Pionk and Brendan Smith. Pionk isn’t good, and Smith is fine as a 3RD.
But the buyout appears to be a possibility. Until you look at the cost. Shattenkirk’s contract has a signing bonus in 2020, which was put there as lockout protection. That complicates a buyout:
- 2019-2020: $1.483m cap hit
- 2020-2021: $6.083m cap hit
- 2021-2022: $1.433m cap hit
- 2022-2023: $1.433m cap hit
Considering the Blueshirts are not only abundant in cap space, but have no major contracts up in the next two years aside from Chris Kreider, buying out Shattenkirk just seems ill advised and short sighted. Maybe there was a handshake agreement that if the Rangers aren’t good, they would cut Shatty loose? Seems logical, considering the hometown discount, but that’s just me spitballing and trying to find logic in an illogical situation.
Something about this seems off. There is no pressing reason to buy out Shattenkirk. There is no cap space crunch. There is no roster space crunch. From what is publicly known, there doesn’t appear to be a logical reason to buy him out. There’s a lot we don’t know and we aren’t privy to, and that’s the only reason I can find for this to appear logical.
If the Rangers are dead set on buying out Shattenkirk, it’s significantly cheaper to just retain 50% of his salary and find a trading partner. I find it hard to believe that the buyout is the best option here.