New York Rangers star defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk needs surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and will be out indefinitely, the team announced on Twitter:
Shattenkirk knee surgery on Monday. Torn meniscus. Has been playing through it all season. Out indefinitely.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) January 19, 2018
The injury comes at a terrible time for the Rangers, who are barely holding onto one of the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. With five goals and 23 points on the season, Shattenkirk has been a force on the Ranger blue line.
Last summer, the Rangers signed Shattenkirk - the most coveted free agent on the market - to a four-year deal worth $26.6 million. Shattenkirk has posted at least 40 points in each of the past four seasons, making him one of the NHL's most gifted offensive defencemen.
With Shattenkirk out, the leaky Ranger defence will have to start turning things around. They're allowing 2.80 goals per game, despite another strong year from goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Blueshirts are also allowing 34.1 shots per game, which is fourth-most in the NHL.
The good news for the Rangers is that replacing Shattenkirk's offence shouldn't be too difficult. They have seven players who have scored double-digit goals, and all of them have a realistic shot at reaching 20.
New York also has a pair of quality defencemen in Marc Staal and captain Ryan McDonagh who can offset Shattenkirk's loss. And with the trade deadline just over a month away, general manager Jeff Gorton has the resources to shop for help at the deadline.
Entering play on Friday, the Rangers have 53 points and are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the seventh seed. They trail the Washington Capitals by seven points for first in the Metropolitan Division, but are just three points clear of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders (ninth and 10th in the East, respectively).
We'll see if the Blueshirts are able to overcome the loss of Shattenkirk. Otherwise, some moves may have to happen at the trade deadline.
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