Kevin Shattenkirk has left the building, and St. Louis Blues fans have already began climbing ledges across the city. Apparently, huge rocks have been flooding the 314 because the Blues faithful haven’t gotten it in their head that the Blues were going to find a trade partner before tomorrow’s deadline. After a reportedly “fierce” bidding war between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, the T.J. Oshies won out and have acquired Shattenkirk, and it will be a rental.
The return for the Blues is 22 year old Zach Sanford, 27 year old AHL journeyman Brad Malone, a first round pick from Caps this year, and conditional picks in the coming years. It’s a working headache, but goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley goes back to Washington in the deal.
Let me tell you what I do know; the return was fine and all that could be expected.
No matter what Shattenkirk’s services brought back home, the Bluesiers were going to be mad. If it wasn’t Alexander Ovechkin’s right arm and a prospect with an option for Bryce Harper to play for the St. Louis Cardinals this summer, the fans were going to be mad. I’m sorry folks, but this was it. Take it or leave it, because this summer Shattenkirk was heading out.
The Penguins pulled out of the bidding war late due to a steep asking price, according to ESPN Hockey Insider Craig Custance. At 9:24 p.m. Custance tweeted out, “Sounds like it never got close between Penguins and Blues regarding a Shattenkirk deal. High price kept Pittsburgh out of it.” If the Pens bowed out of the deal and cleared the path for their Eastern Conference rival Capitals to pull into the Shattenkirk drive-through, the highest return must have belonged to Washington.
This was Doug Armstrong’s last attempt to escape complete futility, but don’t think for a second he cleared his name here. He’s buried the team in overindulgent contracts, which made this trade a required move. If Armstrong doesn’t hand Jay Bouwmeester a useless extension a couple years back, Shattenkirk could stay a Blue. It’s mathematics without the complexity. Doug, like the Blues have done often this season, tripped himself up on the way to the podium.
The Blues aren’t waving the white flag on the 2016-17 season, but this deal hurts them short term. You take away a power play quarterback type defenseman who has the mentality of a forward like Shattenkirk, and it’s going to cripple the scoring output and overall ferocity of this team. Looking down the road, this deal will help the Blues continue their rebuild.
Look at the big picture for a second before you take the fifteenth swig of Maker’s Mark (or perhaps that’s just me). The Blues cut ties with David Backes, Brian Elliott, Troy Brouwer, and Steve Ott after last season. They installed a young goaltender between the posts as their #1 and placed a four year extension on his shoulders. The makings of this deal points towards a further rebuild for the team. As STL Sports Page columnist Nick Hand told me last week on a 590 The Fan radio show that I co-host last week, the Blues are more in line to challenge for a cup in two years than right now. It is simple facts and statistics that have engineered this move.
Sure, Shattenkirk and Oshie could be hoisting the Stanley Cup in three months, but who needs to think about that right now. Blues fans should be use to looking up and ahead at the “next” thing. The team routinely challenges for tournaments where it can’t withstand the competition, and eventually falls flat in heartbreaking or ordinary fashion. It’s becoming a cult rendition to call St. Louis a great hockey city, but also one that can’t seem to get to the top no matter who is behind the bench or in the suite.
It’s an ironic connection that Copley was the quiet gem for me in the Brouwer-Oshie trade, and now he goes back, which in my mind tips that trade into the Capitals favor. While the return is odd and still incomplete, I will say this was the best Armstrong and the Blues could do at this juncture. When you wait this long, the end result is going to taste like an overcooked steak.
Let me say this: a tip of the cap to Shattenkirk, the gem hidden in the Chris Stewart-Erik Johnson trade many years ago, and that includes work on and off the ice. Shattenkirk stood tall in front of the media and faced the fire many times, and never leaned on a coach’s misgivings or a teammate’s shortcomings to solve a tough question. He was a first class hockey player and person. Shattenkirk scored 59 goals and tallied 199 assists in 425 games, including 32 power play goals, with St. Louis. He will be missed for the play on the ice and the light humor and personality off of it.
What’s next? Kick the shit out of Edmonton tonight. There’s no fucking crying in hockey; only games to be won. The Blues still own a playoff spot, and can catch Nashville with some inspired play. Promote the kids, give them more ice time, and watch them run.
For the St. Louis Blues, it’s a young man’s world now.
One more thing: please fire Doug Armstrong soon. Thanks.