Kevin Shattenkirk is a pending unrestricted free agent after completing a three-year, $11.7 million contract. He agreed to terms with the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 9, 2020, after winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Shattenkirk might want to chase another championship via the free-agent market, and the Ducks could decide to go in a different direction, but it may be in the best interest of both parties to work out a contract extension to keep him in the organization for a little while longer.
Cost Shouldn’t be a Hindrance
Anaheim currently has just over $39 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. The Ducks still need to sign key restricted free agents Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Jamie Drysdale this offseason while deciding on the futures of Max Comtois, Simon Benoit, and Lukas Dostal. Still, retaining the services of Shattenkirk should not be much of an issue once all those situations are settled. It may only take a year or two, with a similar cap hit, along with a signing bonus, to get a deal done.
Shattenkirk has played in 891 regular-season games and 85 postseason contests during his 13-year career in the NHL. His experience and role as a mentor for Anaheim’s developing defense corps make him a valuable member of the team. Shattenkirk can be leaned on to help blueliners like Jackson LaCombe and Drew Helleson, who both received their first NHL looks at the end of the 2022-23 campaign, make smooth transitions to the top level. Shattenkirk spent most of this past season paired with Benoit, who played in a career-high 78 games and averaged 19:21 of ice time per contest.
Highly-touted defense prospects Olen Zellweger, Pavel Mintyukov, and Tyson Hinds are primed for big roles with San Diego of the American Hockey League next year, and it probably won’t be long before they see action in the NHL ranks. Having a player of Shattenkirk’s acumen waiting to show them the ropes will benefit their development.
Ingrained in the Community
Shattenkirk has been a supportive and charitable representative for the Ducks in the community. He hosted a youth street hockey clinic and donated $5000 to the Anaheim Family YMCA, which resulted in him being named the team’s nominee for the 2022-23 King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award goes annually, “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Shattenkirk, who is a member of the NHLPA Player Inclusion Coalition, has done a great deal to help grow the game off the ice and help those in need.
Plenty Left to Give
Shattenkirk’s point production slipped from 35 (eight goals, 27 assists) over 82 games in 2021-22 to 27 (four goals, 23 assists) across 75 outings in 2022-23. He also posted a career-worst minus-20 rating, but that is more indicative of the struggles of the club as a whole than his individual performance. The 34-year-old rearguard ranked second among Anaheim skaters with 115 blocked shots last campaign and placed fifth on the team with 145 shots on goal. Over the last three seasons, Shattenkirk ranks high among Ducks defensemen in several categories, including third with 0.36 points per game; second with 11 even-strength goals; second in even-strength points with 50; and second in power-play points with 27.
He has done a great job of adding some secondary scoring from the back end behind Cam Fowler, which Anaheim desperately needs. The return of Drysdale, who was limited to just eight games in 2022-23 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, will help in that regard and could reduce Shattenkirk’s role going into next season. Still, Shattenkirk’s ability to soak up minutes in all situations makes him a more than serviceable depth option.
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As a member of the Ducks, Shattenkirk has displayed plenty of versatility while playing up and down the lineup alongside a variety of defense partners. Shattenkirk’s presence on the roster would also help relieve some of the pressure from Anaheim’s younger blueliners. It provides the Ducks the option of being able to hand out more sheltered responsibilities and have Shattenkirk serve as a safety net. Anaheim could also afford to bring along their prospects a bit slower, providing them with additional time to hone their skills at the minor-league level with a stable veteran defender like Shattenkirk in the fold.
Possible Trade Chip Down the Road
Anaheim general manager Pat Verbeek made some moves last season ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, including sending defensemen John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov to the Minnesota Wild and the Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively. If Shattenkirk agrees to a short-term contract with limited no-trade protection, he could be dealt with at some point during the 2023-24 campaign. Anaheim already has a plethora of picks for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, including three second-round selections and two third-round choices. The Ducks also possess two second-rounders and three third-rounders for the 2024 NHL Draft. It would not be a surprise if the stockpile continued to grow for the rebuilding Ducks, and a potential trade involving Shattenkirk could contribute to that total.