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Trading Shattenkirk

Kevin Shattenkirk's departure looms large, but what could the Blues get in return?

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

What's Shattenkirk worth on the trade market? Names like Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Jordan Eberle have been tossed around, and many others have suggested using Shattenkirk to trade up to Edmonton's 4th pick overall in the upcoming draft, but I think this is a bit of wishful thinking. Don't get me wrong - adding a dynamic forward like Tkachuk with a cap-friendly entry level contract would be sweeter than drinking another liter of salty Patrick Kane tears, but it would probably take more than Shattenkirk to wrestle RNH, Eberle, or the 4th pick away from the Oilers. Plenty of other GM's will be making strong offers for that pick, and the Blues don't often win bidding wars.

Averaging more than 22 minutes of ice time per game, including 2½ minutes on the power play, Shattenkirk has provided the Blues with top-tier depth behind No. 1 defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, which his club realizes is a luxury.

But Blues general manager Doug Armstrong also realizes that he will have a tight squeeze fitting his roster under a salary cap that’s expected to remain "relatively flat" from its current $71.4 million level. There is approximately $57.6 million committed to 16 players, which means less than $14 million left to sign as many as seven players.

The Blues have prioritized restricted free-agent forward Jaden Schwartz and also have interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent David Backes. Each player could command $6 million-plus, accounting for at least $12 million. That would dismiss the possibility of bringing back unrestricted free agent Troy Brouwer, and would make it difficult filling out the roster with free agent options that include Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak and Steve Ott.

This is why Shattenkirk’s future with the Blues seems in jeopardy. His salary-cap hit in 2016-17 will be $4.25 million, not to mention that his actual salary jumps to $5.2 million from $4.3 million. With the emergence of Colton Parayko ($858,750 cap hit), the Blues could find some cost savings this season if they find a trade partner for Shattenkirk. They would also not face the possibility of paying him $6 million to $7 million a year on a new contract after his current one expires next summer. [Post Dispatch]

Edmonton, Philadelphia, or the Islanders (Kevin's a NY native, for what it's worth) could be likely destinations, but any GM that wants to acquire him runs the risk of losing him after the season is up. Throughout the season, it often seemed like there were too many chefs in the kitchen on the blueline. Between Piertrangelo, Bouwmeester, Parayko, and Shattenkirk, the Blues had four defenseman that had nearly identical styles of play. Maybe the balance is off, and dealing Shattenkirk would set it straight.  There's a couple different courses of action that the front office could take:

Trade Shattenkirk for the highest pick possible

If Shattenkirk isn't worth the 4th pick, maybe he's worth the 10th or 15th? (Blues swiped Vlad the Impaler from Ottawa using this method, remember?) Cap space is gained, Schwartz gets his bookoo bucks, Blues get two picks in the first round, and maybe you've got enough cap room left to add a decent piece out of free agency.

Trade Shattenkirk for a second-line center and a defenseman

Sure, it makes sense to move Shattenkirk now, but what happens if Parayko hits a sophomore slump or misses a month or two with an injury? You've dealt a dependable blueliner away and you'd be scrambling to fill his minutes with the likes of Bortuzzo, Edmundson, and Lindbolm. That's living dangerously. It's almost as risky as getting between Keith Tkachuk and the dessert trough at an Old Country Buffet. The fans would gripe, but it could offset the loss of Backes and Brouwer while adding depth.

Package Shattenkirk with your first round pick and Rattie or Barbashev for a real impact player.

This option is highly unlikely, but under the right circumstances, this could work. A pickspect sweetens the pot, and the Blues offload $4.2 million off the books while nabbing another starting player. Barbashev and Rattie (or maybe even both together) wouldn't carry the same weight as, say, Fabbri, and the months-long-tire-kicking that the Blues did on Jonathan Drouin probably broke down because Armstrong wouldn't give up Fabbri in exchange.

Trade Shattenkirk for a similar defenseman

We've seen transactions like this in the past (the deal that sent Erik Johnson to Colorado springs to mind), but it's not uncommon for teams trade one cog for another with a similar style of play. That being said, I think the front office will be looking for offensive help with any trade involving Shattenkirk, so this seems unlikely, but it would address the absence on the blueline.

Keep Shattenkirk for the entire season and let him walk.

You know what you're getting out of him, and he could be incredibly valuable for another playoff run, even it if means you lose him for nothing. A ring would be worth losing him as a UFA, right?

Punt on the decision until the trade deadline and hope the rental market explodes.

One way or the other, I think something will happen before or during the draft, but Doug Armstrong doesn't rush personnel decisions and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he decided to wait until another club got desperate.