Kevin Shattenkirk believes that he won’t be a Blue much longer. In fact, the defenseman’s agent is surprised that he’s still with the club.
Before last weekend’s NHL draft, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong called Shattenkirk’s agent, Jordan Neumann of Edge Sports Management, and discussed two possibilities. They talked about the potential of re-signing an extension with the Blues beyond the one year left on his contract. When the club wasn’t comfortable with the numbers it would take to bring Shattenkirk back, there was talk of trading him.
“Doug inferred that Kevin probably wouldn’t be re-signing there beyond next season, and therefore he thought it was in both our best interests and the Blues’ best interests that he pursue a trade,” Neumann said Monday. “I would say that neither Kevin nor I was surprised. I think we all kind of saw it coming. We really respected the fact that Doug reached out and talked to us about it, and that we had some fair warning, and that he allowed us to have at least a little bit of input as the process sort of took off heading into draft weekend. Kevin loves it in St. Louis, he’s really enjoyed his time, his career has really taken off there. But at the same time, he’s a very smart young man and we completely understand the business. It would be naive to say we didn’t expect it to be coming.”
The Blues’ interest in trading Shattenkirk dates back to last year’s draft, when it’s believed the team had a deal in place to move the All-Star, though it was never finalized. The speculation continued throughout the 2015-16 season, but he stayed put. Now with the club facing a salary-cap crunch this summer, it has become a foregone conclusion that it will trade the defenseman.
Shattenkirk, 27, has a cap hit of $4.25 million next season, and the Blues are just $15 million under the $73 million ceiling. Moving Shattenkirk and inserting Colton Parayko ($858,750) into his spot may allow the Blues to re-sign restricted free-agent-to-be Jaden Schwartz and unrestricted free-agents-to be David Backes and Troy Brouwer, who will each hit the market Friday if still unsigned.
Furthermore, the Blues would not be faced with the challenge of trying to re-sign Shattenkirk next season before he becomes a free agent. He had 14 goals and 44 points in 72 games last season, giving him 40-plus points in each of his five full seasons in the NHL. It’s believed that as a puck-moving, right-shot defenseman he could command between $6 million and $7 million per season, which was conveyed to Armstrong in the recent conversations.
“I wouldn’t want to comment on potential negotiations,” Neumann said. “But I would say that there was some conversation in that regard in and out of the different trade conversation that Doug and I had.”
With the terms unsuitable for the Blues, Armstrong informed Neumann of the likelihood of a trade, saying Friday that “it’s easier just to be up front with everybody on the situation and they understand it,” he said.
Thus, there was a significant amount of speculation going into the NHL draft in Buffalo last weekend that Shattenkirk’s days with the organization were numbered. The first round came and went Friday, though, without a deal.
“There’s been no trades here today of that type of player,” Armstrong said late Friday night. “Maybe my asking price is too high or maybe I value him higher than other people. But I haven’t been anywhere close to what I think is representative of the value of Kevin Shattenkirk.”
Reports around the NHL this season suggested that the Blues asked the Lightning for forward Jonathan Drouin, while another indicated that the club inquired of Detroit about forward Dylan Larkin. Other teams have backed out of talks with the Blues, citing the costly return.
Still there was hope that there might be a deal on Day 2 of the draft Saturday, but it too came and went without any news.
It’s believed that the Blues and Shattenkirk got as far as discussing potential destinations and a possible contract extension elsewhere, though Neumann said he would “much prefer not to comment” on that. The defenseman does not possess a no-trade clause, but teams willing to meet the Blues’ price would certainly want to work out an extension before making the deal. Some have suggested that he is only open to one with teams in the Eastern Conference, but that is unfounded. Either way, to have it advance to that stage, it seemed as though a resolution was forthcoming.
“There was not and is not a definitive timeline for this to happen, but just knowing the amount of background noise and chatter that there was heading into draft weekend, I think we built up an expectation that it would happen over the weekend,” Neumann said. “Kevin and I have kept in contact every day during the last week or so. I think he understands it’s a business, so I don’t think he’s allowing himself to get frustrated. He understands that there’s really not a lot he or I can do to expedite the process. So we’re just going to let it take its natural course and hope for a speedy resolution. I would say at this point, Kevin and I do think it is inevitable that he ultimately will get traded. So with that in mind, I guess any player in that situation would certainly hope it would be sooner rather than later.”
Armstrong was unavailable to comment Monday.