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Is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Shattenkirk Gamble Already Paying Off?

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The begin to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2019-20 common season has been comparatively rocky in comparison with the success that they skilled all through the 2018-19 season. To date, the Lightning have appeared human, dropping video games whereas struggling to search out constant performances in every sport.

Regardless of their early-season struggles as a group, nevertheless, Kevin Shattenkirk has been enjoying some classic hockey for Tampa Bay. By 9 video games, he has already scored 4 objectives, doubling his whole from the 2018-19 season.

After his poor play and bloated contract led to a purchase out by the New York Rangers this offseason, the Tampa Bay Lightning shortly swooped in and signed Kevin Shattenkirk to a team-friendly, one-year, $1.75-million contract. (Picture by Brian Babineau/NHLI through Getty Photos)

When Shattenkirk was signed by the Lightning this offseason, the transfer felt like much less of a chance and extra of an insurance coverage signing. If issues went nicely, then Tampa Bay had a top-six defenseman on an inexpensive contract. In the event that they went poorly, then they might merely waive him or commerce him to a group in want of a veteran defenseman. Now, three weeks into the NHL season, Shattenkirk is proving that he’s excess of simply insurance coverage for the Lightning.

Shattenkirk’s Position with the Lightning

The rationale for Shattenkirk’s early-season success is easy: he’s enjoying a smaller position for Tampa Bay. When he was with the Rangers, he was requested to be a number one defenseman, which oftentimes uncovered his defensive inefficiencies. This solely received worse as New York began a rebuild, jettisoning prime defensive expertise like Ryan McDonagh from the franchise for future compensation.

Whereas he was with the Rangers, Shattenkirk was being paid like a top-pairing defenseman. Two years into that contract, it was clear that he merely wasn’t in a position to be that participant for New York. (Courtesy Canadian Press)

With the Lightning, Shattenkirk is ready to play extra of a secondary position. Even when he had been to achieve peak profession scoring this season, he nonetheless can be thought of the third-best defenseman on Tampa Bay’s roster, behind each Victor Hedman and McDonagh.

On this lowered position, Shattenkirk is ready to focus extra on his offensive sport, which is what makes him a superb NHL defenseman. His expertise shines when he’s capturing the puck from the blue line, forcing the goaltender to make a save or hand over a juicy rebound.

How Has Shattenkirk Struggled?

It hasn’t been all constructive for Shattenkirk, although. Regardless of discovering his offensive sport as soon as once more, one factor he has not been in a position to good is his defensive play. To date, he has each a Corsi for and Fenwick for under 50%, sitting at 48.four and 47.eight, respectively.

What this implies is that Shattenkirk continues to be struggling to play protection. At occasions, he has discovered himself out of place within the defensive zone, establishing the opposition for a simple shot on internet or a major scoring alternative. Different occasions, he’ll commit an excessive amount of within the offensive zone, leaving his defensive accomplice out to dry on a breakaway alternative.

Whereas he has contributed on the scoresheet for the Lightning, Shattenkirk has additionally discovered himself giving up prime scoring possibilities resulting from poor defensive play. (AP Picture/Chris O’Meara, File)

Now, this isn’t completely a Shattenkirk situation. The Lightning have been sloppy basically to begin out the season, so hopefully, this situation might be resolved all through the season. It’s a bit regarding, nevertheless, to see one situation that led to his buyout beginning once more so early on.

Lightning Hit Gold with Shattenkirk

Regardless of his defensive shortcomings, Shattenkirk has already been an enormous win for the Lightning. He has offered the group with a wanted veteran scoring presence all for an unimaginable worth.

Associated: Bolts Breakdown: Shattenkirk, Poor Protection and Excessive-Hazard Possibilities

In an NHL world dominated by the wage cap, the Lightning couldn’t have accomplished significantly better than Shattenkirk, particularly given his begin to the season. If he can proceed to place up factors, he might be the most important steal of the 2019 offseason.

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