As we learned yesterday, the St. Louis Blues have had three different deals fall through for Kevin Shattenkirk in the last nine or so months, starting with one that could have taken the star defenseman to Edmonton before they eventually dealt for Adam Larsson. As Bob McKenzie of TSN reported, the latest trade would have had Shattenkirk sign a seven year, $42MM extension upon the completion of the deal, and Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks he knows which team it was.
While he can’t be sure, Rutherford writes that it was likely the Tampa Bay Lightning who had the deal completed in principal but needed the extension to pull the trigger. Just six weeks ago Shattenkirk vetoed it, which would have been right around the time the Lightning were 19-19-4 and struggling to get anything going in the Eastern Conference. It’s unclear what they would have given up, but Rutherford does mention that the Blues have shown interest in both Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin in past discussions.
All this while Darren Dreger of TSN very much believes that the Toronto Maple Leafs are still involved in discussions about the right-handed defenseman, recently saying that they’ve had consistent interest in him. As yesterday, they still are balking at the asking price which has been talked about as a first round pick, prospect and perhaps even more. Dreger says that Shattenkirk has played himself into a perfect spot, where he can either stay where he is “comfortable” in St. Louis, or head to a playoff team—which St. Louis is currently—and then hit the open market in a few months.
For any player, signing a long-term extension with a team before you’ve set foot in their organization would be a tough decision. In free agency you can take your time and have several meetings, be shown the facilities and talk about the state of the club going forward. During the season none of that can take place, and agreeing to go live and work in a city that you may not know very well would be a life-changing decision. Shattenkirk looks more and more like a rental piece that you’ll have a few months to try and convince to stay, rather than get an extension done prior.
Many teams in the league should be happy with that, as even rentals of his caliber don’t come around very often. The bidding will be high, but likely will include some conditional picks hinging on the team’s ability to re-sign him. What we know though is that he obviously doesn’t want to rush into an extension, if he’s already turned down three.