Kevin Shattenkirk is on the way to help Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals finally fulfill their potential. He's on his way to help the Capitals win the Stanley Cup this season.
The Capitals acquired Shattenkirk and American Hockey League goalie Pheonix Copley from the St. Louis Blues late Monday for their first round pick this year, conditional draft picks, 22-year-old rookie forward Zach Sanford and AHL forward Brad Malone.
Shattenkirk is in the final year of his contract and likely will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He has 11 goals and 42 points in 61 games this season. He's tied for fourth among defenseman in points, tied for third in goals and is eighth in assists.
Sanford has three points in 26 games this season.
Washington general manager Brian MacLellan is sending a clear and direct message to his team, especially to his core players, by acquiring the best rental player on the market less than 48 hours before the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline: This is the year to win the Stanley Cup. No more disappointments. No more early exits. No more Game 7 flops. No more wondering why they can't get past the second round. Now. The time is now. This year.
Win it already.
The Capitals have never made it out of the second round in the Ovechkin era despite eight trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past nine seasons. They are 3-5 in Game 7s.
Washington won the Presidents' Trophy last season only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Eastern Conference Second Round. It won the Presidents' Trophy in 2010 and didn't make it out of the first round, losing in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens.
Video: STL@WPG: Shattenkirk makes nifty move to notch goal
Shattenkirk might have a new team come July 1 but he's a Capitals defenseman now and in terms of impact, this trade could be the most important Washington has made before the NHL Trade Deadline since acquiring Hall of Fame center Sergei Fedorov in 2008.
From the Blues perspective, general manager Doug Armstrong is subtracting an impact player from what could be a playoff team, but he was facing the prospect of losing Shattenkirk in the offseason for nothing the way he lost David Backes or Troy Brouwer after last season.
Armstrong clearly didn't want the same thing to happen and he clearly didn't have plans to re-sign Shattenkirk or he would have likely done so already.
The fact that Washington wound up as the landing spot for Shattenkirk is somewhat surprising considering the Capitals already are first in the NHL in points (89), tied for second in goals for per game (3.31), first in goals against per game (2.10) and fifth in power play (21.8 percent).
Video: Elliotte Friedman on the Kevin Shattenkirk trade
However, there is a level of shrewdness to this trade that MacLellan no doubt had to be thinking about when he made it. Shattenkirk going to the Capitals will undoubtedly have a ripple effect through the heart of their two biggest Metropolitan Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, the two teams most responsible for Washington's playoff disappointments.
The Penguins and Rangers, who could each use another right-handed defenseman, were also reportedly in discussions with the Blues to acquire Shattenkirk. They didn't pay up. Washington did. It could significantly impact a playoff series this season.
The Rangers will get the first look at how impactful Shattenkirk can be for the Capitals when they play Washington at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports, MSG, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV). Shattenkirk is expected to make his Capitals debut.
Fantasy impact: Shattenkirk boosts Capitals power play
The Penguins and Capitals don't play again in the regular season.
Shattenkirk fills a big hole on the right side of Washington's defense. The Capitals have two righties in John Carlson and Matt Niskanen, who missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury but practiced Monday and could return to the lineup against the Rangers.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz doesn't even have to meddle with his top two defense pairs, currently Carlson with Karl Alzner and Niskanen with Dmitry Orlov. Shattenkirk's presence means Trotz can take some of the heavy lifting away from Carlson (22:53 of ice time per game) and Niskanen (22:26). He most likely will take one of them off of the power play to put Shattenkirk on it.
Shattenkirk, who is averaging 19:51 of ice time per game this season, is tied for 10th in the NHL and third among defensemen with 20 power-play points this season. Carlson has 13 power-play points and Niskanen has nine.
Video: STL@WPG: Shattenkirk, Stastny combine for nifty PPG
Shattenkirk also gives the Capitals legitimate depth on defense in case of an injury or suspension in the playoffs.
Remember, the Capitals didn't have a good fallback option when Orpik was suspended for three games in the second round series against the Penguins last season. It didn't help that Trotz also lost faith in Orlov and Schmidt, scratching each at different times and rendering the Capitals with basically three defensemen he trusted in some games.
For example, Mike Weber and Taylor Chorney made up the Capitals' third defense pair in Game 4 against the Penguins. Weber's turnover in overtime led directly to Patric Hornqvist's game-winning goal to put Pittsburgh up 3-1 in the series. The Penguins won the series two games later.
Shattenkirk is coming to D.C. to help ensure the same doesn't happen again this season. He's coming to D.C. to be help Ovechkin and Co. finally get over the hump, to win the Stanley Cup.