Not since the days of Brian Leetch have the www.corsexe.com/keegan-kolesar-c-1_38.html Rangers had an elite, puck-moving defenseman to run the power play. It was a piece they had been lacking for years. Now, however, they have their man.
To succeed in today’s NHL, a team needs defensemen who can move the puck, play a strong two way game, and skate well. While these defensemen are in short supply, teams need them to win championships. Look at the recent Stanley Cup winners; Pittsburgh has Kris Letang, Chicago has Duncan Keith, and Los Angeles has Drew Doughty.
The last defenseman that the Rangers had who fits this mold is Brian Leetch. After he left, they never replaced him. They tried to, signing Dan Boyle in the 2014 offseason and acquiring Keith Yandle at the 2015 trade deadline, but it wasn’t quite the same. Boyle was already on the decline when he got here, and Yandle wasn’t properly utilized by Alain Vigneault.
Enter Kevin Shattenkirk, an elite puck-moving defenseman for the St. Louis Blues. Shattenkirk was regarded as an offensive defenseman in St. Louis, a power play specialist. Shattenkirk grew up in New Rochelle, a lifelong Ranger fan. He was long rumored to want to play for the Rangers at some point in his career.
At the 2017 trade deadline, everybody knew Shattenkirk was going to be traded from St. Louis. The Rangers were rumored to be in on him, but he was traded to the Washington Capitals. After a brief few months in Washington, Shattenkirk was set to be a free agent.
While there were reports that the Rangers weren’t going to sign Shattenkirk, these were incorrect. The Rangers inked Shattenkirk to an absolute steal of a contract, four years for $26.6 million. Shattenkirk knew what he was brought here to do; provide offense from the back end and run a power play that had been stagnant for a long time.
Early season adjustment
Shattenkirk started the season trying to adjust to playing for his hometown team, learning a new system under a new head coach. He struggled at times, as he was constantly bounced around the lineup. He started the season alongside captain Ryan McDonagh on the top pair, and then was on the bottom pair with Marc Staal a few games later. Then, Alain Vigneault decided to place him on the second pair with budding second-year star Brady Skjei. Since then, Shattenkirk has looked much more comfortable and is absolutely thriving.
Power play prowess
18 games into the season, the Rangers power play has been absolutely lethal. It has been a long time since the Rangers power play was capable of breaking a game open. It now has that ability.
The power play is currently converting at a rate of 25.8%, good for third in the league. The top power play unit of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Shattenkirk has worked wonders. Shattenkirk has been fantastic at quarterbacking the power play, giving them a lethal defenseman at the point for the first time in years.
So far, Shattenkirk has nine points on the power www.goldenknightsprosale.com/luca-sbisa-c-1_20.html play, good for second on the team. He has made a previously pedestrian unit look incredibly dangerous, capable of scoring at any moment.
Shattenkirk’s skill level is especially evident on the man advantage. His vision on the ice is incredible. He has a knack of seeing things, whether it is an open player to pass to or a lane to shoot through, that the average player doesn’t see.
Shattenkirk has always had a reputation of being a very talented offensive defenseman. So far this season, this has most definitely been the case. In 18 games, Shattenkirk has scored five goals and added 12 assists for a total of 17 points. On an 82 game scale, Shattenkirk is on pace to post 23 goals and 55 assists for 78 points. While he likely won’t put up this many points, somewhere around 55-60 points seems about right.
Shattenkirk has also always been known as a positive possession player. That has carried over here, posting an even stength Corsi For percentage of 50.3%. This is partly a product of Shattenkirk starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone. To date, Shattenkirk has started 60.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Shattenkirk has been an important piece for the Rangers on the blue line, and will continue to be for the rest of the season.
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