Perhaps no player has been mentioned in trade rumors and possible trade scenarios this season than St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. After losing David Backes and Troy Brouwer for nothing as free agents last summer, the Blues were believed to be reluctant to see the same thing happen with Shattenkirk. And with $64MM already allocated towards the 2017-18 season, fitting in another big dollar contract is something the Blues probably would be wise to avoid.
Of course Shattenkirk is an offensively-inclined defenseman who also happens to be right-handed. Those are two characteristics nearly every team in the league is always looking for and the veteran blue liner boasts both in one package. Whether Shattenkirk is traded will have nothing to do with interest, or lack thereof, from other teams; it will, however have everything to do with whether the Blues find a package of assets compelling enough for them to part with the gifted defender.
Shattenkirk is in the final year of a four-year, $17MM deal with an AAV of $4.25MM.
The seven-year veteran hasn’t let his impending free agency and the uncertainty over whether he will finish the season in St. Louis or not affect his performance this season. He is just three points from establishing a new career-high in scoring and his 11 goals already represent the second-best total of his career. With roughly 1/4 of the season remaining to be played, there is a solid chance Shattenkirk bests both totals. He’s done a good chunk of his damage on the man-advantage, tallying seven of his 11 goals and 20 of his 42 points on the power play.
What may complicate both trade negotiations and potentially his earning potential as a UFA is the belief among many evaluators that Shattenkirk is best suited in a second-pairing role and power play specialist and isn’t a legitimate top-pairing blue liner. The Blues are marketing him as a difference-maker and it appears based on the extension terms he’s reportedly already passed on that his camp is expecting a pay day commensurate with some of the top blue liners in the game.
60GP, 11 goals, 31 assists, 42 points, -10 plus/minus, 37 PIM, 114 SOG
Again, there is no shortage of teams that would be interested in adding Shattenkirk but will the Blues find a suitor willing to meet their asking price. Edmonton, on the verge of making the postseason after 10 straight non-playoff campaigns, was reportedly closing in on acquiring Shattenkirk last summer but extension talks hit a snag and the team pivoted to the infamous Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson swap.
The New York Rangers, Shattenkirk’s favorite team growing up, definitely need a blue line upgrade and would seem to have an excellent shot at extending the defender, but do they have the stomach to meet the high asking price when they might be able to wait until the summer to sign him as a free agent? As we discussed earlier, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has been less inclined to move the organizations young assets than his predecessor, Glen Sather.
Boston was thought to have had interest but with the emergence of Brandon Carlo and the development of several other young defensemen, the Bruins might prefer to add up front instead of on the back end.
It recently came out that Tampa Bay was heavily involved in trade talks with the Blues for Shattenkirk’s services but again, his refusal to ink an extension scuttled the move. As they fight their way back into the playoff conversation in the East, would they be willing to again consider Shattenkirk as a rental?
Likelihood of a Trade
At this point it’s probably a coin toss. The Blues won’t trade him simply to avoid losing him for nothing this summer; they want a significant return in exchange. St. Louis also holds a playoff position meaning they will be less likely to accept a package consisting of only futures (i.e draft picks and/or prospects). Will a team pony up the required NHL-ready assets for a player that sounds as if he is headed to the open market in a few months and may have his heart set on a particular destination (New York Rangers)? It’s far from a certainty unless the Blues asking price comes down.