The March 1 trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the St. Louis Blues and General Manager Doug Armstrong have a tough decision to make, whether or not to trade defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk is the team’s top defenseman and is tied for second on the team in points, with 37. The Blues currently sit in fourth place in the Central Division, one point back of the Nashville Predators.
The Blues are 3-1 under new head Mike Yeo, with 21 games remaining on the schedule. So do they keep Shattenkirk in hopes of making another cup run after coming up short in the Western Conference finals last year? Do they trade him before the deadline, regardless of how the team is playing, in preparation for next season?
Yeo said Shattenkirk is committed to winning with the Blues despite the trade speculation.
“I don’t know that any player can’t have that in the back of their mind, but what I do give him full credit for is that he’s all-in to our group. Obviously there is uncertainty with what could happen, but I know one thing that he’s assured me and shown me with his play that he’s committed to this group; to winning with this group; and if something changes, it changes, but for right now he’s all-in to us,” Yeo said.
Ultimately, they should trade him and get two or three young players in return to build for next year because this simply isn’t the season for the Blues. That might be tough for St. Louis fans to hear with a chunk of games remaining on the schedule, but it’s the smart thing to do.
The goalie situation in St. Louis is an issue in itself and even though Jake Allen played an outstanding game in net against the Ottowa Senators recording 30 saves in the team’s 6-0 win, his inconsistency throughout the season isn’t enough to convince me the Blues can compete with other title contenders deep into the playoffs.
The team hasn’t fully recommitted to Allen either with the strong play of backup goalie Carter Hutton. I’m sure that’s a scenario the team will resolve as we progress through the back half of this season, but it’s a situation that didn’t work out with Allen and Elliot last year or with Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak in years past. You simply can’t have a platoon goalie scenario and expect to make a cup run.
Rising star, Robby Fabbri is also sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and although call-up Kenny Agostino has looked strong in his first two games with the big league club, the Blues simply don’t have a consistent enough offense to get the job done.
With a coaching change and inconsistency throughout the season, the time to sell is now. Not many teams are biting the Shattenkirk bait, but he wants to sign a long-term deal with the team he’s dealt to after his contract runs out at the end of this season.
He has a $4.25 million cap hit, which isn’t terrible for teams looking for a rental player, but if he’s dealt before the deadline, the Blues are going to ask for a hefty return.
The danger of holding onto Shattenkirk is if they fail to find a suitable trade partner and fall short of winning the cup, the Blues won’t have anything to show.
However, if the Blues get hot and do make a playoff run without Shattenkirk on the bench, well then that’s just a bonus. At least they’ll be prepared moving forward into next season with depth on the roster.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]