McKeen's recently had a chance to conduct a Q&A with 2007 NHL Draft prospect Kevin Shattenkirk, following a standout season with the U.S. National Under-18 Team. Currently listed at No. 7 on the McKeen's Draft Rankings, Shattenkirk talks about his game, his international and USNTDP experiences, leadership, future college commitments and his thoughts on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
McKeen's: How did you become interested in hockey? At what age did you start playing organized hockey?
Shattenkirk: I became interested in hockey when I was a little kid. Both of my brothers, Eric and Keith were playing as I was growing up and I always looked up to them. I began skating when I was about 4 years old and started playing travel hockey when I was 6.
McKeen's: Describe the type of game you play. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Shattenkirk: I am definitely an offensive defenseman. I join the rush really well as the second wave of attack and make a good first pass out of the zone. Another strength of mine is my ability to pick my spots well and knowing when to join the rush. An area where I need improvement is my defensive side of the game. I think I can get better at my one-on-one play and my defensive awareness inside the d-zone.
McKeen's: What would you say is the most underrated facet to your game?
Shattenkirk: I think the most underrated part of my game is my skating ability. I feel I can recover well from my mistakes because I have good footwork and a good stride.
McKeen's: Which NHL player do you model your game after and why?
Shattenkirk: I try to model my game after Brian Leetch. He has always been one of my favorite players and was a great NHL defenseman. Brian Leetch was great offensively but also very reliable on the defensive side the puck as well.
McKeen's: Who are the five most talented players you have played against or with and what specifically do you admire about their styles?
McKeen's: What do you focus on during off-season training?
Shattenkirk: During the off-season, I try to focus more on getting stronger off the ice. I usually have a summer workout program that I follow in order to get ready for the season coming up. I do work at a hockey camp however, so I get a chance to fine-tune some areas of my game there as well. Most importantly though, I just try to rest and take it easy so I'm ready for upcoming season.
McKeen's: What was your main reason for choosing Boston University? Was it nice to get the commitment out of the way early? In addition, what are you looking forward most to playing at BU and coach Parker?
Shattenkirk: My decision came down to BU and Michigan and in the end, I just felt most comfortable at BU. I loved the coaches at BU and I loved the city of Boston. It was very nice getting the commitment out of the way early because it took a tremendous amount of stress off me during the season. One thing I really can't wait for is to play in the Beanpot. The tradition of BU and that tournament goes back a ways and I am looking forward to being a part of it.
McKeen's: What were some of the other colleges that interested you?
Shattenkirk: Altogether, I looked at BU, BC, Michigan, Harvard, Princeton, Denver and Colorado College.
McKeen's: Which areas do you consider you have to improve to succeed in the next level in college and further?
Shattenkirk: The area I feel I need improvement is my defensive side of the game. I can improve on some of the smaller things such as containment, d-zone awareness and posture, and my 1-on-1 play. Also, I feel I still have time to mature physically and work on my strength and my shot.
McKeen's: The NHL Entry Draft will be coming up for you this year. Are you thinking about it at all?
Shattenkirk: I try not to but it is always something that is in the back of my mind. I have had interviews with teams and have the combine coming up so it is hard not to think about it but I am just trying to take it all in and enjoy it.
McKeen's: If you were drafted, what team would be your preference?
Shattenkirk: Well my favorite NHL team is the Rangers, so that would be pretty ideal but to be honest it doesn't really matter to me. I'll be honored to go to any team that decides to take me.
McKeen's: You were the captain of the U-18 team. How does the role suit you? Do you like to lead by example or are you more of a vocal player in the locker room?
Shattenkirk: I feel the role suits me well. Leadership is something I have always had and something I take pride in. I try to lead more by example and by gaining the respect of my teammates. I feel that having the respect and trust of your teammates is the most important part of leading a team.
McKeen's: How did you like playing with Tommy Cross in Finland at the Under-18 Tournament?
Shattenkirk: I loved playing with Tommy at the World Championships. We have become pretty good friends and actually were roommates so we built a very good chemistry on the ice. Tommy is a pretty easy guy to play with because he is so reliable and always takes care of his job.
McKeen's: What did you get the most out of playing with the NTDP? What did you enjoy the most?
Shattenkirk: What I took out of the NTDP the most was the need to bring everything I had to offer to the rink day in and day out. Playing with some of the best players at your age all of the time really drives you to play your best hockey all the time and I loved the competitive edge of practice and in the games as well.
McKeen's: At the recent U-18 tournament, you were awarded the Media All-Star, Best Defenseman, Three Best Players of Each Team, and a silver medal, which award is most valuable to you and why?
Shattenkirk: To me the most valuable was the silver medal. It was definitely an honor to be awarded individually for my play but it never would have come without the help of my teammates. As a team, we trained and practiced for two years to get to the gold medal game and even though we came up short, t was still a great feeling to see everyone with a silver medal and think of all that we accomplished together.
McKeen's: You are a well-traveled individual as you have been to Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, which has been your favorite country to visit and play?
Shattenkirk: We were in Finland and Slovakia twice as U-17s. My favorite trips had to be Czech Republic or Finland. Czech Republic was so special because we played some of our best hockey during the year and won the tournament. Finland is an obvious answer. The trip was such a great experience and as a team, we had many great memories there.
McKeen's: Any temptation to play anywhere else besides the NTDP, like in the USHL or staying in prep school or was it an easy decision?
Shattenkirk: The decision wasn't incredibly easy but I had always wanted to play for the NTDP. I was actually considering going to prep school and had been accepted at Taft, so that was my other option if I didn't choose the NTDP.