Kevin Shattenkirk signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
The 30-year-old defenseman had 28 points (two goals, 26 assists) in 73 games for the New York Rangers last season. He had the final two seasons of his four-year contract bought out by the Rangers on Aug. 1.
Shattenkirk gives Tampa Bay another veteran defenseman to go with 2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Braydon Coburn. He said the Lightning's status as a perennial Stanley Cup Playoff contender was the main reason he decided to sign with them.
"I think that was a huge factor," Shattenkirk said. "Obviously, I know the type of player I am and the role that I kind of fit into on teams, especially on a team like Tampa Bay. It's a winning team and they seem to have a lot of their roles filled. I felt like there was a position there for me to help the team out and a position that maybe they were seeking to fill."
Shattenkirk said there was interest from several teams since his buyout from the Rangers was announced.
"It was very reassuring to go almost 24 hours later and get a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest from teams, obviously Tampa being one of them," Shattenkirk said. "Just working through the whole process and as a player going through that it obviously gives you a bit of a confidence boost when you get that much attention in such a short period of time."
Video: NYI@NYR: Shattenkirk picks the corner through traffic
Shattenkirk, who was selected in the first round (No. 14) of the 2007 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, has 349 points (75 goals, 274 assists) in 609 games with the Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Rangers. He has 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 60 playoff games with the Blues and Capitals.
"He's played in over 600 NHL games and played in big playoff games at the NHL level," general manager Julien BriseBois said. "He's played in the Olympics, the World Championships, The Frozen Four back in college, the World Juniors … He's a young veteran that's played in a lot of games, a lot of meaningful games. He's seen pretty much every situation that can come across as a defenseman over the course of a season."
The Lightning had two veteran defensemen leave since last season. Anton Stralman signed with the Florida Panthers on July 1, and the Lightning declined to offer unrestricted free agent Dan Girardi a contract.
Tampa Bay signed Luke Schenn on July 1 to a one-year, $700,000 contract, expecting him to compete for one of the open roster spots. When Shattenkirk became available, BriseBois said he had to see if there was a potential fit. He added that there is a possibility the Lightning will carry eight defensemen this season.
"If Kevin hadn't become available I don't think I was necessarily…I wasn't looking to sign another defenseman at this juncture," BriseBois said. "Once that became an opportunity I owed it to the organization to do my due diligence, call the agent to see if there was interest in playing in Tampa Bay and what kind of contract he was looking for. Once we were able to agree to terms it became an easy decision to make."
BriseBois said he does not believe the Shattenkirk contract will negatively impact the Lightning's attempts to re-sign restricted free agent center Brayden Point.
"We're adding another good player. Eventually, we are very optimistic we're going to get a contract done with Brayden Point," he said. "That hasn't wavered. ... I know Brayden wants to win, he wants to play on a good team, he wants me, as the general manager, to do everything I can to help the team win and make sure we have the best players possible on the team. I saw an opportunity for us to improve our team today, so that's why I made that decision."
BriseBois said July 29 that he expects Point will sign before training camp in September.