When free agency opened on October 9, the Ducks were looking for a change on the blue line and they found it in Kevin Shattenkirk. The 31-year-old defender signed a three-year contract worth $11.7 million that includes a modified no-trade clause.
We’ll first dive into the contract and then take a look at the player earning it and how he’ll fit into Anaheim.
With no signing bonuses, Shattenkirk’s contract is interestingly backloaded in real dollars and carries a cap hit of $3.9 million that accounts for 4.79 percent of the team’s cap space.
His base salary is just $2.5 million in 2021, graduating to $4.95 million by 2023. The modified no-trade clause allows for a 12-team no-trade list.
When looking at comparable contracts, 29-year-old defender Brenden Dillion just signed a 4-year, $15.6 million contract with the Washington Capitals — it carries the same cap hit, with just an additional year of term on a slightly younger player.
The twin analysts between Evolving-Hockey use previous contract data to predict free agent signings. Their most-likely outcome for Shattenkirk was a 7-year deal with a $5.6 million cap hit — but as they even admit, there was plenty of wiggle room when it came to term.
We projected Kevin Shattenkirk at 7 years for $5.6 million, but our term model had a lot of uncertainty there. At a 3-year term (our next most likely term) we projected $4.7 million.— Evolving-Hockey (@EvolvingHockey) October 9, 2020
The twins’ model is very good at contract projections — the Ducks got a good deal on Shattenkirk based on previous contract history, and the short term, given his age and where the Ducks are in their rebuild is perfect.
Who is Kevin Shattenkirk?
A US National Team Development Program alum, Shattenkirk was drafted 14th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2007. After three years with Boston University, he made his NHL debut with the Avalanche in 2010. That same year, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in a blockbuster deal that sent Erik Johnson to Colorado.
Shattenkirk stayed with the Blues until 2017, a contract year where he couldn’t come to an extension agreement. He was traded to the Washington Capitals where he played 19 regular season and 13 playoff games. That summer, he signed a four-year contract with another re-building team, the New York Rangers, in free agency.
During training camp with the Rangers, Shattenkirk tore the meniscus in his left knee. He continued to play through half the season, until the injury required surgery to repair and took him out for the rest of the year after just 46 games. When he returned the next year, he put up just two goals and 26 assists over 73 games and the Rangers bought out the remainder of his contract.
He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in free agency. In 70 regular season games, he improved to eight goals and 26 assists, but he added another three goals and 10 assists in the 25 postseason games it took for the Bolts to win the 2020 Stanley Cup.
It might not feel like much, but his bounce back was significant, as illustrated here with Evolving-Hockey’s Regularized Adjusted Plus/Minus (RAPM) charts for Shattenkirk in 2018-19 and 2019-20:
GF/60: Goals For per 60 minutes; xGF/60: Expected Goals For per 60 minutes; CF/60: Corsi (shots + unblocked shot attempts) For per 60 minutes; xGA/60: Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes; CA/60: Corsi Against per 60 minutes
The Ducks won’t be getting prime Shattenkirk, circa 2013-2017 (including the only three seasons he hit double digits in goals), but they’re not getting the injured husk of Shattenkirk that played for New York, either.
Of course, Shattenkirk will be one of the only players on the Ducks’ roster who participated in the 2020 postseason following the coronavirus season pause. He has additional hockey to recover from with less time to do so.
He’s still a player with a positive impact. The biggest concerns are obviously long-term effects of his previous knee injury, which can become more difficult with age. His contract will end in his age 34 season.
How will Shattenkirk fit?
When it comes to addressing the team’s needs, Ducks general manager Bob Murray has known the defense needed work for awhile. In fact, it turns out that Murray courted Shattenkirk when the Rangers bought out his contract (from NHL.com):
“Well obviously he knew we liked him and I liked him, and he had a great chat a year ago with myself and with (coach) Dallas [Eakins],” Murray said. “He liked Dallas a year ago. Hey, Kevin made the right decision, as much as I didn’t like it last year. He made the right decision and I told him so. But that’s to our benefit now. Because now he’s won, now he knows how to win. That’s only good for us and our younger players.”
Shattenkirk said, “Last summer, when everything happened with New York, I really narrowed it down to Anaheim and Tampa Bay. At the time, Tampa was the right choice for me, but I had the opportunity to talk to Dallas Eakins and talk to Cam Fowler and be able to get a feel for what they were doing there. This time around, talking to Bob and really getting a sense of the direction that he is moving with the team, I kind of realized after all my years and some of the struggles we had in New York, how important winning is.”
As for how exactly Shattenkirk will fit into the line up, as a right-handed shot, he’ll be second-pairing beneath Josh Manson. Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler top the left side and will likely pair respectively with Manson and Shattenkirk. That gives the Ducks a legitimate top-four defense — though the depth drops off pretty sharply after that.
Another massive area of gain will be the Duck’s power play. Shattenkirk put up 20 shots on the man-advantage last season on Tampa Bay’s second unit, the seventh-most on the team. He’ll add some bite to Anaheim’s second unit. The Ducks’ power play was second-worst in the league last year with just a 14.7 percent success rate.
Shattenkirk, especially at 31, is not a complete and total fix for the Ducks’ defense. But he might be a pretty good start.