With time winding down until the Boston Bruins open the 2023-24 season, their roster is taking shape after undergoing many changes over the summer. As part of looking ahead to the coming NHL season, we’ll look at the Bruins’ roster and see what we can expect from them during the upcoming campaign.
Today, we look at one of the Bruins’ offseason additions, Kevin Shattenkirk, and what exactly he brings to the club’s roster. The veteran defenseman has been linked to the team for a number of years, and after signing a low-risk, one-year deal worth $1.05 million, fans will finally get to see him wearing black and gold.
Shattenkirk’s Career at a Glimpse
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, 14th overall at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Shattenkirk spent the following three seasons honing his skills while playing for Boston University. He made the jump to the NHL in the 2010-11 season, beginning his rookie campaign with the Avalanche. In his first 46 games, he scored seven goals and added 19 assists for 26 points. However, despite the strong start to his NHL career, on Feb 19, 2011, the Avalanche traded him to the St. Louis Blues. While the deal saw the Blues part ways with Erik Johnson, the first overall pick from the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, general manager Bill Armstrong shared his excitement, saying, “We’re very excited to acquire a young emerging power-forward in Chris Stewart and a top young NHL defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk.”
Throughout the early stages of his career, Shattenkirk displayed great offensive skills and consistently surpassed the 40-point mark, scoring a career-high 14 goals during the 2015-16 season with the Blues. He followed that up by setting another career high in 2015-16 with 56 points. After spending seven seasons in St. Louis, amassing 59 goals and 199 assists for 258 points in 425 games, the offensive-minded blueliner was on the move once again, this time being dealt to the Washington Capitals.
The trade on Feb 27, 2017, brought the 28-year-old to the Capitals, who were hoping the addition would help lead them to a Stanley Cup championship. “Kevin is a skilled, puck-moving defenceman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play.” Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement following the deal. Shattenkirk posted 14 points with two goals and 12 assists in 19 games with the Capitals, whose Stanley Cup ambitions were cut short following a second-round exit in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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Shattenkirk became an intriguing free agent during the 2017 offseason, and despite his name being linked to the Bruins at the time, he ultimately signed a four-year contract worth $26.6 million with the New York Rangers. After just two seasons where he didn’t live up to expectations, he was bought out by the club. While entering the free agent pool again, the Tampa Bay Lightning took a chance and signed him to a one-year contract worth $1.75 million. The move paid dividends as Shattenkirk put together a strong performance en route to the Lightning’s 2020 Stanley Cup victory. In 25 games during the 2020 Playoffs, he scored three goals and ten assists for 13 points.
With a Stanley Cup championship added to his resume, Shattenkirk brought his services to the Golden State by cashing in on a three-year, $11.7 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks. During his three seasons with the Ducks, he continued to provide offense at a reasonable clip, averaging 0.36 points per game. Most recently, in what was an abysmal season for the club, he had four goals and 23 assists for 27 points in 75 games.
Shattenkirk Solidifies Bruins’ Defensive Depth
Although he is clearly past his prime and the consistent 40-point seasons he put together early on in his career, Shattenkirk joining the Bruins’ defensive corps as a bottom-pairing defenseman will help solidify their depth at the position. The move, much like many of Don Sweeney’s free-agent signings this summer, brings a low-risk, high-reward factor. With Shattenkirk slated to become the replacement for the freshly departed Connor Clifton, it seems as though the Bruins’ have received an upgrade at a much cheaper cost.
Shattenkirk will also help the Bruins’ power play, which struggled at times throughout last season. In fact, after leaving the Ducks and their abysmal powerplay, which capitalized on just 15.72 percent of their opportunities in 2022-23, the 34-year-old should see an offensive resurgence by joining a much more lethal power-play unit.
While his defensive side of the game leaves more to be desired, an improvement from his career-worst plus/minus rating of minus-20 last season should be expected. Depending on how head coach Jim Montgomery plans on utilizing Shattenkirk, he may start more of his shifts in the offensive zone, which could, in turn, help lead to more quick goals off of set faceoff plays in the opponent’s end. His possession metrics also reflect his deployment, as he posted a career-low 45.3 Corsi For percentage with the Ducks while starting a career-high 54.3 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.
What the Bruins Can Expect from Shattenkirk
First and foremost, as previously mentioned, Shattenkirk will provide a boost to the Bruins’ power play. While fellow right-handed defenseman Charlie McAvoy will quarterback the top unit, he will likely find his own place on the second unit. The Bruins can expect their newest blue line addition to increase his offensive production compared to his time in Anaheim.
Another reason Shattenkirk’s offense will improve is due to the fact that he won’t be leaned on as heavily to play in defensive situations. While at his best with the St. Louis Blues, he generally started over 60 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. While joining a Bruins squad that features a deep blue line, Montgomery can use Shattenkirk, where he is most effective, in the offensive zone.
Look for Shattenkirk to post somewhere between the 35-40 point range, with a stat line of seven goals and 29 assists for 36 points being a realistic possibility. While it remains to be seen, the depth signing could prove to be a stroke of brilliance from Sweeney, as Shattenkirk could quietly play a pivotal role for the Bruins this season.