It wasn’t all about money, or securing a long-term deal. In the end, it was Kevin Shattenkirk’s overwhelming desire to be a Ranger that brought him home to New York.
“I knew there’d be some term and some money left on the table,” said the New Rochelle native, an unrestricted free agent who admittedly passed up more lucrative offers Saturday and agreed to a four-year contract worth $26.6 million with the Blueshirts. “When you have the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream like this, it’s an opportunity that may only come once in my career, and I felt this was my chance.”
To be sure, Shattenkirk, 28, brings plenty to the rink offensively — especially on the power play, which often struggled for the Rangers in key moments last season although they tied for 10th in the league in that area.
Shattenkirk, who spent seven years with the St. Louis Blues and the end of last season with the Washington Capitals, has had at least 25 power-play points in four consecutive seasons. The last Rangers defenseman to do that was Brian Leetch, one of Shattenkirk’s idols, with 26 in 2001-02.
Only six defensemen in the past three seasons have averaged more points per game: Erik Karlsson, Brett Burns, Kris Letang, Viktor Hedman, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban.
“Kevin’s a player we’ve obviously coveted for a while,” general manager Jeff Gorton said, “an offensive defenseman on the right side who can do so many things. We’re trying to stay away from those five-, six-, seven-, eight-year deals right now until we see where the [salary] cap is going. We felt like this was an opportunity to get a really good player for a term that we could live with and we felt was fair . . . You’ve got to give credit to Kevin on this one. He sent a pretty strong message to us.”
In February, while with the Blues, Shattenkirk turned down a trade to the Lightning that reportedly would have resulted in a seven-year, $42-million contract. On Saturday, he reportedly sorted through offers from Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Boston and others.
Until about 2 p.m., he didn’t really grasp that he would be a Ranger until “all the final offers were coming in,’’ he said. “Obviously, there were some sacrifices to be made, but in my mind, those sacrifices are what you leave on the table to live out a dream and join a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup.”
One other factor was playing side-by-side with Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who like Shattenkirk is a former U.S. Olympian. “Ryan McDonagh was a big part of my decision,” he said. “My goal is to come in here and be a phenomenal defenseman in all aspects of the game, and I think Ryan is going to help me achieve that.”
Shattenkirk, who attended Boston University and was selected 14th overall by Colorado in the 2007 draft, played one year there before going to St. Louis. He was sent to the Capitals at the trade deadline for a 2017 first-round pick, a 2019 conditional second-round pick and left wings Zach Sanford and Brad Malone.
With Washington, Shattenkirk had two goals and 14 points in 19 regular-season games and a goal and six points in 13 playoff games. He finished the season with 13 goals and 56 points.
In New York, Shattenkirk acknowledged, “there’s going to be a lot of pressure. But as a local boy, I grew up around it . . . kind of experienced it from a fan’s point. I think it would have been hard for me to deal with as a young player, but every team I’ve been with wants to win the Stanley Cup.”