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Shattenkirk has huge fans in Rangers' McDonagh, Skjei

New defenseman's presence in New York lineup 'is going to help us a ton'

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

EDINA, Minn. -- When defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk pulled a New York Rangers jersey over his head for the first time July 18, his new teammates were as excited as he was.

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said that exhilaration has not worn off, and probably won't for a while. The Rangers captain is well aware of Shattenkirk's capabilities and what he will bring this season.

"His skill set, his experience and just his all-around ability as a player is a huge asset to any team he's on," McDonagh said last week during a break in play at Da Beauty League, where a host of NHL players with ties to Minnesota are playing games for charity every Wednesday through July and twice a week through Aug. 23 at Braemar Arena. "I think everybody was pretty excited when we heard the news [he was joining the Rangers], and we're looking forward to seeing him at camp and having him contribute to the success of this team."

New York signed Shattenkirk, 28, to a four-year, $26.6 million contract (average annual value $6.65 million) July 1. He had 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) in 80 games with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals last season, and has at least 25 points on the power play in four straight seasons. The last Rangers defenseman with at least 25 power-play points in a season was Hockey Hall of Fame member Brian Leetch with 26 in 2001-02.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Shattenkirk nets PPG for OT win

Shattenkirk's presence on the power play will be welcomed after New York struggled with the man advantage during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring three times in 39 chances (7.7 percent) in 12 games.

"I think everybody knows how strong he is on the power play," Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei said. "Obviously it's huge for our [defense] corps and our team in general. He's such an offensive talent and he's very reliable in the [defensive] zone, so to get a guy of that caliber playing with us night in and night out is going to help us a ton. I'm really looking forward to getting to know him and getting to play with him."

Said McDonagh, "He plays the puck well whether you are down a man, up a man or even strength. He's a guy you can count on to excel whatever unit you have him on."

Shattenkirk is expected to play with McDonagh on New York's top defense pair. They previously played together for the United States at the 2007 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship, 2011 World Championship and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Video: WSH@TOR: Shattenkirk nets PPG for first as a Capital

"Being able to play with him in past tournaments and teams, I know the type of guy he is and he's going to fit right in with our room perfectly," McDonagh said. "We were drafted the same year [2007] and we've been in the League together the same amount of years, so I'm just excited to have this chance to play together.

"[He's] a guy that just wants to go out there and play well for his team and play [to] his strengths. Everyone knows the kind of player he is, and the things he can do with the puck are pretty impressive so it's going to be fun to see."

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