Kevin Shattenkirk’s name is once again popping up in trade rumors around the NHL. Over the summer, Shattenkirk’s name surfaced several times as the St. Louis Blues reportedly spoke with the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers about a possible transaction. Those talks cooled – if not halted – as the Blues ended up trading T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals. Now there are reports that the Blues are once again shopping Shattenkirk.
Craig Custance states that Shattenkirk’s “name is in play on the trade front” in an Insider piece on ESPN, which was brought past the paywall by The Score. The belief is that Shattenkirk’s contract, which expires after the 2016-17, may be the lone reason the team might want to trade a player who fans consider arguably the best defenseman on the team. The Blues already have Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked up to long-term deals, which means they may opt to move Shattenkirk with a year left on his contract to maximize the return if they don’t believe they can afford to extend him further.
Shattenkirk’s name was in the Norris conversation last season, but a horrifying injury derailed his season and limited him to just 56 games. Still, he posted 44 points in those 56 games and he’s again playing well this season. Shattenkirk is leading the team’s D in total offense and he has consistently been among the team’s best overall scorers. Contract talks aside, does it really make sense to move him?
Blues fans have been clamoring for a trade and it’s likely the team is still a piece or two short on forward to make a serious push. Though injuries have played a role, the Blues have shown enough weaknesses over the last month or two to warrant a big change. Most would argue that Ken Hitchcock should go before the Blues trade a huge component, but that’s a topic for a different article.
The Blues are loaded on defense. Colton Parayko’s rise has been a huge surprise, which might warrant a defensive piece to be moved. Still, Bouwmeester is 32 and he has already shown signs of slowing down over the last two seasons. Pietrangelo is an outstanding defenseman, but a strong case could be made that Shattenkirk is the better weapon. The Blues could get a nice haul for moving him, but it’d come at the risk of poking a big hole in their defense.
As with almost any trade, it takes a significant piece to acquire a significant piece. If the Blues want to shake things up and pick up a big-impact player, it’ll take a player like Shattenkirk to get it done.