Kevin Shattenkirk came to the Washington Capitals with high expectations. Sadly, they weren’t met.
The Washington Capitals went all-in to try to win the Stanley Cup during the 2016-17 season. They pushed in a ton of chips back at the trade deadline, when they traded for the top prize, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues. He came to the Capitals with people expecting him to be the difference maker for the Stanley Cup favorites.
Shattenkirk was a difference maker, both good and bad. Now he hits free agency as the top free agent defensemen available. Shattenkirk’s time with the Capitals, assuming it’s over, will be seen as a failure because the Caps didn’t win the Stanley Cup.
All stats, unless otherwise noted, are at even strength. Corsi and goals for numbers are adjusted. Stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis. Italics mark a career high. Shattenkirk’s stats are combined between the Capitals and Blues.
|TOI per game
|5v5 primary assists/60
|Rel. Goals Against60
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Shattenkirk was brought in partially to help revive the Capitals power play. He certainly did his part during the regular season. In 19 games, Shattenkirk had seven power play points. With Shatty, the Capitals converted on 26.5 percent of their power plays. Before him, it was at 21.8 percent.
The Caps wound up needing Shattenkirk, as Karl Alzner got injured. Trading for him made a ton of sense at the time, and even without a Stanley Cup, Washington made the right move by acquiring him. If nothing else, who would have replaced Alzner in the playoffs without Shattenkirk? Taylor Chorney? Hard to think that would have put the Caps in a better position to win.
Shattenkirk wasn’t good in the playoffs. Of course, he was paired with Brooks Orpik, who was also bad. Most of his mistakes in the postseason were because Shattenkirk had to try to make up for his partner’s blown coverage. But considering he was acquired to be a difference maker, he wasn’t one in the playoffs. His plus-minus looks bad, but it’s worth noting the Blues had an 88
People might think Shattenkirk cost himself some money with a bad postseason. But teams silly enough to care that much about a small sample size while overlooking a much larger (and more relevant) one don’t deserve him to begin with. Shattenkirk has said he wants to be a first pairing defenseman. That might be a stretch, and he might well get overpaid because he’s the best blue liner on the market by far. But Shattenkirk’s a darn good defenseman who is an elite power play point man.
Where do you think he should sign? What team is the best fit for him? Feel free to discuss these questions in the comments.