We’ve all heard the rumors and speculation about Kevin Shattenkirk - that the Blues want a sign-and-trade deal to ensure a maximum return for their defenseman has been a common one. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch, the Blues have tried to pull that off twice, and failed. The first deal, which would’ve brought Taylor Hall to St. Louis, was nixed by Shattenkirk’s team. The second deal, which could’ve brought Jonathan Drouin to the Blues from the Tampa Bay Lightning, was recently nixed about six weeks ago.
With sign-and-trade deals off of the table, so are the Blues’ prospects of getting an established NHL player. No one wants to give up a huge amount for a rental, and that’s the status that Shattenkirk’s apparently reached. Unless a sign-and-trade is set up by February 28th, the Blues will have to settle for picks and prospects, and maybe some spare parts.
With a push for the playoffs going on now that the team has righted their sinking ship, the Blues could benefit far more with an established NHLer than some guy they’ll have to wait a couple of seasons on.
What to do?
The Blues have a few options - option A is of course deal Shattenkirk for what they can get. This at least would give the Blues a chance to stock the stables, one they didn’t get with Backes and Brouwer. They kept those two for a playoff push, and with the Blues’ loss in the Western Conference Final, the reward for the gamble wasn’t as high as the team hoped.
Unfortunately, right now that’s the Blues’ second option. Shattenkirk’s their only offensive defenseman and right now he’s second on the team in scoring (11-31-42). Can the Blues continue on the path that they’re going and advance deeply into their playoffs without a key cog in the wheel?
Neither position is a good one for the team to be in, but it’s not fair to put all of the blame on Shattenkirk. Hockey is a business - for both sides. If Shattenkirk and his agents don’t think that a deal’s a good value for them, they’re going to nix it. Honestly, not having the cap space to work with Shattenkirk is squarely on Doug Armstrong’s shoulders and that albatross of a contract given to Jori Lehtera.
Next Tuesday evening, we’ll know if the Blues have dealt a key piece of their offense for players who may or may not pan out in the future (and if the Blues will be plugging that hole with Bortuzzo), or if the team is holding on to the defenseman to see him walk after the playoffs.
Neither situation is optimal, but at this point, it is what it is.