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Rangers buy out Kevin Shattenkirk for much-needed salary cap relief

Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk sets before a face-off

Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk sets before a face-off against the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Kevin Shattenkirk gave the Rangers a hometown discount when he signed a four-year, $26.6 million with the club in the summer of 2017. He was supposed to lift the Rangers’ power play, but it never happened. A knee injury hurt his production and eventually required season-ending surgery in the first season; a hoped-for bounceback second season never materialized.

So, facing a desperate need to get their payroll under the NHL’s $81.5 million salary cap, the Rangers on Wednesday informed the 30-year-old Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle native, that they will buy out the remaining two years of his contract during the 48-hour buyout window that opens at midnight Thursday and closes at midnight Saturday.

His agent, Jordan Neumann, confirmed the news. Shattenkirk, whose wife delivered the couple’s first child in early July, finished his Rangers career with seven goals and 44 assists and a minus-29 rating in 119 games.

The Rangers made it official with a news release Thursday afternoon.

 “Today’s decision was a very difficult one,” Rangers president John Davidson said in the release. “Kevin is a great person and teammate and he was extremely proud to be a New York Ranger. We wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

Removing Shattenkirk’s contract from their books will save the Rangers $5.17 million this season, which will get them under the cap and should provide enough space to sign their two remaining restricted free agents, defenseman Tony DeAngelo and forward Brendan Lemieux.

There still will be a price to pay, however. Shattenkirk’s contract, which had a $6.65 million cap hit, will count as $6.08 million on the Rangers’ payroll next season, and $1.433 million in each of the following two years.

In the short term, though, buying Shattenkirk out means the Rangers won’t have to trade forward Chris Kreider for cap relief. Kreider, who has one season remaining on his contract, carries a $4.65 million cap hit in 2019-20. The Rangers will have to decide whether to extend Kreider’s contract or trade him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Rangers have acted aggressively to speed up their rebuild this summer, trading for, and then signing defenseman Jacob Trouba (7 years, $56 million) and landing the top prize on the free agent market, Artemi Panarin with a seven-year, $81.5 million contract. Those two deals pushed them over the cap, and signing Pavel Buchnevich to a two-year, $6.5 million contract last Friday pushed them over even more.

The Rangers did not buy out any contracts during the first summer buyout window, but they were eligible for a second window when Trouba and Buchnevich filed for salary arbitration. Trouba signed his deal July 19 and once Buchnevich signed, it triggered the opening of the second window.

According to CapFriendly, the Rangers were about $4.1 million over the cap before buying out Shattenkirk, though the exact number is dependent on which players make the team out of training camp. 

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