Kevin Shattenkirk had the final two seasons of his four-year contract bought out by the New York Rangers on Thursday.
The 30-year-old defenseman signed with the Rangers as a free agent two seasons ago, getting a contract worth $6.65 million annually. He had 23 points and 28 points, respectively, in those seasons with New York after scoring at least 40 points in four consecutive seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals.
"Today's decision was a very difficult one," Rangers president John Davidson said. "Kevin is a great person and teammate and he was extremely proud to be a New York Ranger. We wish him and his family all the best going forward."
Shattenkirk missed the final 36 games in 2017-18 with a meniscus tear in his left knee. Last season, he missed nine games, including seven with a separated shoulder.
He had 51 points (seven goals, 44 assists) in 119 games with New York and becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Rangers this offseason signed free agent forward Artemi Panarin to a seven-year contract worth $11.6 million per season, and traded for defenseman Jacob Trouba before signing him to a seven-year contract worth $8 million per season. New York also re-signed forward Pavel Buchnevich to a two-year contract worth $3.25 million per season.
Video: Rangers buy out contract of Kevin Shattenkirk
The moves put the Rangers near the NHL salary cap of $81.5 million but also had Shattenkirk looking forward to the season.
"The ability to start training without any injuries nagging me, that's amazing," he said June 23. "Last summer, I was so focused on rehab. But I think the excitement around our team over the last month or two, it drives you as a player. We're going to be better a lot sooner than people think. That always makes it fun."
Shattenkirk reportedly turned down more lucrative offers two offseasons ago to sign with New York after growing up a Rangers fan in New Rochelle, New York.
The Rangers did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in either of Shattenkirk's seasons after making them for seven straight seasons and 11 of 12.
"I don't think we could've predicted the way that things went down, and that's probably been the tougher side of things, the turn the organization made (to a rebuild)," he said. "But it needed to be done. ... It was a sting at first, but now things look so bright and it's fun to be a part of something that's being built from the ground up."
Shattenkirk, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round (No. 14) of the 2007 NHL Draft, has 349 points (75 goals, 274 assists) in 609 regular-season games with the Avalanche, Blues, Capitals and Rangers, and 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 60 Stanley Cup Playoff games.