Rangers buy out Shattenkirk...

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T15D23
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Rangers buy out Shattenkirk...

Postby T15D23 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:38 pm

After confusion on timing, Rangers make the tough decision to buy out Kevin Shattenkirk
Rick Carpiniello

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The bottom line is always just that.

So with the crapstorm of confusion that blew over the Rangers, at least one of their players, all of the reporters who cover the team, some agents, and all of the team’s fans regarding the opening and closing of the second buyout window, the bottom line remained the bottom line.

The Rangers are buying out the final two years of the hometown-discounted contract defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk signed on July 1, 2017.

That, really, is all that matters, though we will dive into how we got to that point Wednesday evening in a few moments.

Shattenkirk, due $6.65 million for each of the next two seasons, will receive two-thirds of that amount spread over the next four seasons and will become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team. It sure will be interesting to see which teams will be in on Shattenkirk at a much more generous discount than the one the New Rochelle-born defenseman signed to play on the team for which he rooted as a kid.

The Rangers tried and tried to move Shattenkirk in a trade this summer rather than go the buyout route that will force them to carry dead cap space, even offering to eat some of the remaining money owed. They found no takers.

With Shattenkirk having lost his spot on the team’s defense – unless rookie newcomer Adam Fox bombs in training camp – and with the Rangers stacked in defensive prospects, moving him became likely despite his lengthy and close relationship with coach David Quinn, who coached him at Boston University.

When the Rangers signed Artemi Panarin and acquired and signed right defenseman Jacob Trouba this summer for a combined $19.6 million and change, they needed cap space.

A 30-year-old who had lost a step and some skills due to age and injuries and who might not be a regular in the lineup any longer was the choice.

So amidst the confusion of when the buyout window actually opened and closed, Shattenkirk and his agent Jordan Neumann were informed that the Rangers would be exercising the buyout.

Thus the Rangers will save $5,166,667 in 2019-20, only $566,667 in ’20-21, and will add a cap hit of $1,433,333 in each of the next two years. The $6.083 million he will be paid by the Rangers in ’20-21 will be painful as a dead cap hit, but if Shattenkirk were still on the team and not playing, it would be $6.65 million.

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The Shattenkirk buyout means, almost certainly, that the Rangers won’t be buying out another player such as Brendan Smith or Marc Staal or Vlad Namestnikov, though GM Jeff Gorton will be scouring for trades to further fortify his young team before opening night. That date, October 3rd, is the deadline by which the Rangers need to be cap compliant, which now they are. And it still remains very likely that Chris Kreider will be dealt before he hits unrestricted free agency next July 1st.

On July 1, 2017, the Rangers – having traded No. 1 center Derek Stepan to kick off their rebuild (they got Tony DeAngelo as part of the package, and DeAngelo replaced Shattenkirk as the No. 1 power-play point man last season; now DeAngelo will battle Trouba and Fox for that spot) – tried to sign Joe Thornton to a one-year deal. Thornton ended up re-signing for multiple years with San Jose. Plan B became Shattenkirk when his ask was not absurd in salary or term.

Shattenkirk talked then about a dream, about joining a team that played in 16 playoff rounds the previous seven seasons and had made the playoffs in 11 of 12 previous seasons. It was a team that had Henrik Lundqvist backing up Ryan McDonagh, who, Shattenkirk thought, might be his defense partner.

“I think, you know, you look back at it and it’s obviously changed a lot from what probably we all thought the landscape was going to look like on July 1, 2017,” Shattenkirk said when we chatted toward the end of last season. “I think that’s something you can’t predict, something you can never plan for.”

What he accepted and took on was a role as a veteran among young players, one who wanted to be part of the solution and one who wanted to help define and establish a new culture.

He enjoyed doing that, but it’s difficult to lead that way when you’re not on the ice playing important minutes or roles. Shattenkirk’s first season was wrecked by a preseason meniscus injury through which he tried to play for half the year before season-ending surgery. The next season he said he had “to get over a mental hurdle” and felt it took half a season for him to trust the repaired knee. He looked a step slower and unsure. But he promised that he would and could change his stripes a bit, to become better in his own end and to reestablish his offensive game.

“I think that’s one thing in my mind, if I’m not performing (offensively) and not producing, then I better be doing something else,” Shattenkirk said last March. “Otherwise you’re going to be out of the lineup and you have no one to blame, really, than yourself. I think that’s always been an area in my mind that I felt needs the improvement. It’s always been to me, ‘don’t worry about the offensive side of things, just be better defensively and you’ll become a more complete player.’”

That chance won’t be coming in New York.

When Trouba and Pavel Buchnevich filed for salary arbitration it opened a second buyout window after the last arbitration-eligible player either had gone through the process to a settlement or signed without the arbitration. Trouba signed first. Buchnevich signed Friday.

Almost everybody, including some in the Rangers organization, believed the window would open three days after the signing, or 5 p.m. Monday, and last 48 hours, through 5 p.m. Wednesday. Everybody wrote it. I did. Quite a few times.

But it turned out that since Buchnevich’s contract was signed and registered with the league after business hours, 7 p.m. Friday – it was publicly announced at 8 p.m. – the CBA declared the contract to be a Monday signing. Thus the window would open three “business” days after the signing. Hence Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So when just about everybody felt the window was closing, it hadn’t even opened yet. Indeed, it opened at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning. The buyout process must be started, but not necessarily completed, within the 48-hour window.

Whatever the level of confusion that caused, the Rangers notified Shattenkirk of their decision, which still could not be officially announced until Thursday.

So they will be under the salary cap this coming season, close to it but probably OK in 2020-21, and swimming in it for ’21-22, when Smith, Staal and Lundqvist come off the books.

Shattenkirk, tremendous guy and good soldier and teammate, goes looking for work elsewhere, looking for a chance to resurrect a career that was a dream come true 25 months ago, and became, well, something of a nightmare.
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