St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is starting to pop up in a lot of trade talk again and it appears that the Blues are open to moving him despite the fact that they’re currently in a playoff spot. In an appearance on NBCSN (video link), TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted that GM Doug Armstrong may be approaching the trade deadline from a different mindset (transcription via Fan Rag’s Chris Nichols):
“The thought process might be different this year than last year. For the very simple reason that last year the St. Louis Blues were very much a contending team. So when Troy Brouwer and David Backes’ contracts were up and they were perceived as rentals at the deadline, St. Louis says, ‘No way. We could win the Stanley Cup with those guys. We’ll let them go to unrestricted free agency. We’ll take our run at it.’”
As we saw back in the summer, both Brouwer and Backes departed via free agency to the Flames and Bruins respectively. With the expectation that Shattenkirk won’t be back, do the Blues want to lose another core player for nothing in return, short of what they get out of him as an ‘internal rental’ between the deadline and the end of the playoffs?
Yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mused about whether or not Shattenkirk might look more favorably on a trade, even to a place like Edmonton where he indicated he didn’t want to play back in the offseason. While a place like that may not be a long-term destination for him, it would give him a chance to showcase himself in a different environment in the hopes of boosting his value on the open market this summer.
It’s worth noting that Shattenkirk, who carries a cap hit this season of $4.25MM, does not have any no-trade protection but if St. Louis was to move him to a team where he’d be willing to sign an extension, they may be able to get a better return for the 27 year old. However, speaking with TSN 1260 in Edmonton, TSN’s Darren Dreger suggests that Shattenkirk is intent on going to the open market:
“The sense has been that Shattenkirk, because of his pending unrestricted free agency, wanted to make sure that he held on to that flexibility. And the sense is, or was, that he wants to play somewhere on the Eastern seaboard. That limits his options, but he must feel confident enough in his game and marketability that as a free agent he’s going to command a seven-year term and probably 7, 7 and change per year. So why would you give that up.”
Shattenkirk recently was ranked first overall in our midseason UFA power rankings and is primed to land a significant raise this summer. With 30 points in 45 games this season, he’d be an instant key addition if Armstrong does decide to move him between now and the beginning of March at the trade deadline, making him a player to keep a close eye on in the weeks ahead.