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Could Kevin Shattenkirk re-sign with the Capitals?

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk checks New Jersey’s Michael Cammalleri while battling for the puck in his home opener at Verizon Center. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)
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A player such as Kevin Shattenkirk is often referred to as a “rental,” a pending unrestricted free agent moved at the trade deadline to help a team in its playoff push. But even with the complicated contract situation that awaits the Capitals at the end of the season, General Manager Brian MacLellan didn’t sound closed off to the idea of re-signing Shattenkirk.

“I don’t know how that would work,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to have three of the top UFAs of the free agency market. I think a lot depends on what happens down the stretch, how everybody’s role pans out, and we’ll make decisions after it’s all over.”

Shattenkirk is on pace to have his most productive season with 11 goals and 31 assists in 63 games, and he’s due a significant pay raise from his $4.25 million cap hit. If he hit the open market, he would get north of $6 million a season on a long-term deal because offensive blue-liners are at a premium. The Blues wanted to work out a sign-and-trade with Shattenkirk and the Tampa Bay Lightning that would’ve reportedly paid him an average annual value of $6 million for seven years, but that deal fell through.

Washington only entered the mix as a potential trade destination when it became clear that St. Louis was no longer trying to extend, then trade him. The Capitals were only interested in acquiring Shattenkirk as a pending unrestricted free agent because they already have 10 players on the roster who will be in need of new contracts this summer. Washington won’t be able to keep all of them, but MacLellan has already expressed a desire to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent forward T.J. Oshie.

Oshie, Shattenkirk and defenseman Karl Alzner will be three of the top pending unrestricted free agents this summer, as MacLellan alluded. The more success Washington has in the playoffs, the more their value goes up.

Young stars Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky are also hitting restricted free agency, and teams typically keep those players. While Burakovsky could get a bridge deal, the Capitals might be interested in locking up Kuznetsov long term as their top center of the future. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov is also having a career year after moving into a top-four role and is expected to get an increase in salary from the one-year, $2.57 million deal he got last summer, and MacLellan has said he’d “love” to re-sign Brett Connolly, who’ll have arbitration rights as a restricted free agent.

All that being said, re-signing Shattenkirk seems unlikely unless Washington is able to move some salary off its books. But Shattenkirk’s side doesn’t seem against the possibility.

“I would say that we’ve maintained that position of being open-minded throughout the entire process, and that wouldn’t change at all with this trade,” said Shattenkirk’s agent, Jordan Neumann. “It’s an outstanding team, it’s an outstanding market, it’s a really great city, it’s a really enthusiastic fan base, so yeah, I think if Kevin gets in there and really falls in love with it and they fall in love with him like I would expect to happen, we would certainly be open to having a conversation with Brian at the appropriate time.”