The Washington Capitals acquired defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline last season, hoping the offensive defenceman would give the team the final push needed to capture the Stanley Cup.

And Shattenkirk ended up among the multiple veterans not re-signed by Washington, joining the New York Rangers with a four-year, $26.6 million contract. He faces his former team on Friday and Capitals head coach Barry Trotz did not mince words ahead of Shattenkirk's return to D.C.

“I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2 [defenceman], and he really wasn’t,” Trotz said. “He was a little lower.

“I think he had a patch during the one series where it wasn’t really good. I think he regained it and scored a big goal for us in Pitt. The first playoff series, that’s what you remember. It sticks out. But I think overall he was fine.”

The Capitals gave up Zach Sanford, Brad Malone and a first-round pick for Shattenkirk, who scored one goal and posted six points as the Capitals exited the playoffs in the second round for the third straight season.

Shattenkirk responded to Trotz's comments later on Thursday and said he's using such comments as motivation.

“It doesn’t sit well with you,” Shattenkirk said. “It’s nothing that you enjoy hearing. I think there are a lot of people that probably think that about me, and I like to use that in my favour and use that as something to keep me boosted and prove people wrong.”

The 27-year-old, who is second on the Rangers in average ice time at 20:54, was then asked if he sees himself as a top-pairing defenceman.

“I think I’m working towards it,” he responded. “I think there’s a lot more room for me to grow. I think I have to handle those top-end matchups a little bit better. When I get those opportunities, I have to really make sure I make them count.”

In 27 games with the Rangers this season, Shattenkirk has five goals and 20 points - seven of which have come on the power play. Rangers head coach Alan Vigneault said Thursday the defenceman has been as advertised for the 15-10-2 club.

“Our scouting staff and management did a real good job of evaluating Kevin and doing their homework,” Vigneault said. “We got exactly what we thought - a skilled player that can help us on the power play and a great teammate, great person in our dressing room.”

The Rangers sit three points back of the Capitals entering Friday night's game.