Kevin Shattenkirk was disappointed and angry when he was informed that the New York Rangers were going to buy out the final two seasons of his contract Aug. 1.
Now, the 30-year-old defenseman is ready to use the buyout as motivation after he signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
"I think I have a huge chip on my shoulder right now," Shattenkirk said. "Obviously, it didn't work out with injuries and performance and with the direction of [the Rangers], the way that kind of deteriorated from when I signed on July 1 (2017) until now."
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With the Lightning, Shattenkirk may have found a team equally motivated to erase the disappointments of last season after they tied the NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season only to get swept in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"Talking with coach [Jon] Cooper and some of the players in Tampa, knowing what happened to them last year in the playoffs, I feel like we kind of share that mentality of playing with a chip on our shoulder," Shattenkirk said. "There's something for me to prove individually, but a big reason why I came there is because they're looking to break through.
"They're a winning team, but they haven't gotten to the final stage and won it yet. And I know those guys are hungry to do it. So I think for me that was something I was looking for and very passionate about."
Shattenkirk signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract with the Rangers but struggled from the outset. He played the first 46 games of the 2017-18 season with a torn meniscus in his left knee that he sustained during training camp before having surgery Jan. 22, 2018, and missing the remainder of the season.
Last season, Shattenkirk was a healthy scratch Oct. 11, 2018, and again on March 7 when the Rangers were giving more minutes to their younger players. He finished with 28 points (two goals, 26 assists) in 73 games.
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois saw enough from Shattenkirk to believe he has a lot of good hockey left in him.
"The second half of the year last year down the stretch, I felt and our scouts that watched him play on a regular basis felt that he had bounced back pretty nicely, had really rebounded and was back to his old form," BriseBois said. "And in talking to Kevin, the fact that he's been able to have a full summer of training when he's healthy and confident, we expect him to be a strong contributor for our team this season."
A healthy Shattenkirk would give the Lightning another veteran defenseman, and for Shattenkirk, the opportunity to potentially play with players like Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos could give him the career resurgence he needs.
"You know, this is obviously an important year for me to show everyone I'm back to my old self and prove that I can be a player in this league again," Shattenkirk said. "In order for that to happen, you want to put yourself in the best position, and I think this is one of the best positions by far I can be in as a player."