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Shattenkirk Lives Out Dream by Signing With Rangers

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

An opportunity to play for the team you grew up following doesn't come around too often. That was why Kevin Shattenkirk chose not to pass it up.

The defenseman, who grew up watching the Rangers from his home in New Rochelle, N.Y., inked a deal with the Blueshirts on Saturday, and in the process fulfilled a dream 28 years in the making.

And while Shattenkirk had other offers on the table, ultimately the lure of New York outweighed all other options.

"Obviously there were some sacrifices, but in my mind those sacrifices are what you leave on the table to live out a dream like this," Shattenkirk told reporters on a conference call. "As much as it is a dream for me, it's exciting. I'm looking forward to joining a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup and that's also a lifelong dream for me."

Shattenkirk had a career-year in 2016-17 that was split between St. Louis and Washington. The defenseman posted 13 goals and career-highs with 43 assists and 56 points.

Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton admitted Shattenkirk was a player the organization "coveted for a while," as he checks off several boxes for the type of defenseman the Rangers were looking to add to the mix this summer.

"An offensive defenseman on the right side that can do so many things for you," Gorton said of Shattenkirk. "[His] power play [work], as everyone noted, is as advertised."

While Gorton said the decision of who exactly Shattenkirk would play with come October would be left up to head coach Alain Vigneault, Gorton did say he and the organization envision Shattenkirk as one of the team's top defenders.

"It's clear that we feel he's a top-four defenseman in the league," Gorton stated. "We feel like we have very good left-handed defense and that he can play with any one of them and have success, in particular Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei.

"Whatever way we go, we think it's going to work out well for [Shattenkirk]," Gorton added. "We're obviously bringing him here to play him a lot."

That's good news for Shattenkirk, who said one of the multitude of reasons he chose New York was McDonagh, his teammate at the 2014 Olympics.

"Ryan McDonagh was a big part of my decision," Shattenkirk said. "He's someone who I think is an elite defenseman and that complements my game well."

Shattenkirk said McDonagh's strong skating "really drives my game" and that he's "looking forward hopefully to the possibility of playing with him and growing as a player myself."

The power play has been an area of the game that Shattenkirk has made a name for himself during his seven-year career in the NHL, as his 131 power play points are second among defensemen since the start of the 2011-12 season. His 32 goals and 99 assists with the man advantage are third-best among defenders in the League during that same span.

But Shattenkirk said he's looking to be more than just be a power play specialist, and that he feels McDonagh will help him achieve that goal.

"The opportunity on the power play is a place where I'm confident that I can succeed and help this team," Shattenkirk said. "But my goal is to come in here and be a phenomenal defenseman in all aspects of the game, and I think Ryan McDonagh is going to help me achieve that."

With playing at home comes pressure to succeed. But rather than let that be a hindrance, Shattenkirk said at this point in his career, he's viewing it as motivation.

"I have to manage that myself," Shattenkirk said of the pressure. "There's going to be a lot of pressure, but that's something that's exciting to me. I think you can't replicate that anywhere else in this league. I'm welcoming it."

With years of experience under his belt, Shattenkirk said he's at a point in his career where he can handle the spotlight of Madison Square Garden. 

While his dream of joining the Rangers was fulfilled today, his goal of a championship remains intact, and that there's no place he'd rather try and conquer that than on Broadway. 

"I think it would be hard for me to deal with as a young player in this league, but at 28 years old and having a little bit of pressure over the course of my career so far, I feel like this is going to be a challenge but that it's something that I'm looking forward to," Shattenkirk stated. "No matter where you go you're trying to win your team a Stanley Cup. There's no better place to try and do it for me than in New York."

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