Kevin Shattenkirk has spent all but 46 games of his NHL career as a member of the St. Louis Blues, though it appeared his situation was going to be changing this past off-season.
Shattenkirk, 27, was one of the players whose name most frequently popped up in trade speculation heading into the summer, and it’s not surprising that teams would want Shattenkirk, who has become a standout for the Blues, especially with how his game has grown over the past few seasons. The time was definitely right to trade Shattenkirk, too, as he’s entering the final season of his four-year, $17-million deal.
As such, some thought Shattenkirk would be moved at the draft as the Blues looked to retain one of David Backes or Troy Brouwer. Then there was belief a summertime deal could send Shattenkirk elsewhere for forward depth. But despite the timing being right and Shattenkirk’s value at or nearing its peak, the Blues weren’t about to part with the soon-to-be free agent for nothing, and the result was Backes and Brouwer walking, no deals in June, July or August and an alternate captaincy for Shattenkirk.
He knows that doesn’t change the fact that any given day could be the one he’s traded, though.
“(Blues GM Doug Armstrong) has always said throughout the whole thing that he’s not just going to make a deal to make a deal, and he’d be more than happy if I were back here on the team, and I’ve always had that in the back of my mind,” Shattenkirk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. “Things change at any given moment. It’s one of those things where all summer you’re focused on, ‘Where am I going?’ and then all of the sudden something could change and you could be staying here. If that were to happen, that would be fantastic.”
Shattenkirk said he doesn’t want to try to force the Blues’ hand, either, especially when it comes to a trade. He knows if he asks to be moved, he might end up somewhere he doesn’t particularly care for.
“I can control it to a certain point,” Shattenkirk told Rutherford. “But if something is going to go down, it’s going to go down.”
The likelihood is that Shattenkirk will be elsewhere come next season, though, and it’s in part because of the needs of the franchise. St. Louis possesses a lack of scoring depth up front while hanging onto a wealth of defensemen, and if anyone has to go, Shattenkirk offers the most value in a swap. Losing Backes and Brouwer means there are holes to fill, and trading Shattenkirk would likely bring in an NHL-ready talent that could slot into the top-six.
But it’s not all about bringing in talent when trading Shattenkirk. There’s also an economic factor. The Blues currently have less than $4 million in cap space this season and roughly $19.5 million for 2017-18, assuming the cap rises only slightly come next off-season.
Shattenkirk is almost certain to demand somewhat of a raise over the $4.25 million he’s set to earn this campaign. For argument’s sake, say he signs a new deal worth $5 million per season. That would leave the Blues with $14.5 million, and while that may seem like a lot of wiggle room, it’s much less considering contracts will need to be figured out for Alexander Steen and young standout defenseman Colton Parayko. That’s not to mention Patrik Berglund’s contract will be up, Robby Fabbri will be entering extension territory and a number of bottom-six players or replacement talent will need to be either retained or brought in.
The combination of team needs and economics means Shattenkirk is bound to continue to hear trade talk for the rest of the season, but he said he’ll do his best to keep his head in the right place.
“I don’t want to let anyone down and I don’t want to have anything in the back of my mind that’s going to keep me from playing my best hockey,” Shattenkirk told Rutherford.
And who really knows, anyway. Shattenkirk has already made it through a trade deadline, draft and nearly an entire off-season without being dealt, so maybe there are more years left for him in St. Louis than anyone would have thought.
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