Capitals win sweepstakes for coveted Shattenkirk

By Brandon Schlager 28 February 2017 126
Capitals win sweepstakes for coveted Shattenkirk

The Washington Capitals have acquired highly-rated NHL defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the St Louis Blues.

With less than a week to the trade deadline, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan insisted the NHL-leading roster he has assembled required only a tweak here and there, if any.

Four days later, Shattenkirk - the highly coveted Blues defenseman who played in the 2015 All-Star game - is headed to Washington in a trade that might prove to be the biggest splash made before Wednesday's deadline.

The deal, announced on Monday, includes a healthy bounty of picks and a top prospect going to the Blues: a first-round draft selection in 2017, a conditional second-rounder in 2019 and promising rookie forward Zach Sanford. The clubs also exchanged minor leaguers, with forward Brad Malone headed to the Blues and goalie Pheonix Copley returning to the Capitals, who dealt him last year for T.J. Oshie.

St Louis will retain 39 percent of what remains on Shattenkirk's $5.2million salary.

"We are excited to welcome Kevin to our organization," said MacLellan. "We felt it was important to acquire another defenseman to strengthen and add depth to our blueline.

"Kevin is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play. In addition, we are also pleased to welcome Pheonix back to the organization. We feel his addition solidifies our goaltending tandem in Hershey."

The clock is officially ticking as Shattenkirk will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, barring a contract extension.

The 28-year-old is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the NHL enjoying a career-best season by offensive production standards. The right-handed shot is fourth among blue-liners with 42 points in 61 games; his 11 goals are second to the 27 scored by Brent Burns, who's having an MVP-calibre year.

Recent injury scares to defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik exposed a potential chink in Washington's armour. The team acquired Tom Gilbert from the Los Angeles Kings last week to play on the right side as veteran insurance, but Shattenkirk is an all-in move.

That he joins the Capitals, whose offense ranks second in the league in goals per game (3.31), and will dish one-timers to star Alex Ovechkin on the power play, might seem unfair, especially to Metropolitan Division rivals who lost out on his services.

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