Doug Armstrong is running out of time to recoup assets for pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Shattenkirk, but it appears the St. Louis Blues general manager has come close to trading the 28-year-old defenseman a few times this season.
Thursday evening, on Insider Trading, TSN’s Bob McKenzie outlined three separate occasions since the summer where the Blues attempted a trade-and-sign situation – only to have it basically vetoed by Shattenkirk because his camp couldn’t agree to terms on a contract extension.
Shattenkirk does not have any trade protection in his four-year, $17 million contract, but he will control his destiny on July 1 as a free agent – so he doesn’t need to sign a contract before then to appease anyone if it’s not the right fit.
Without an agreement on an extension, the acquiring team in a Shattenkirk trade simply wouldn’t be inclined to give up a bigger asking price than a mere rental would net.
“With each passing day, it becomes more and more likely it would seem that Kevin Shattenkirk, if he’s traded, will be traded as a rental – as opposed to a trade and sign a long-term extension,” said McKenzie Thursday evening. “Now, the door is still open for that to happen if it’s the perfect city, the perfect team, and the perfect contract.
“Also keep in mind rental prices extremely high. General manager Doug Armstrong of the Blues is looking for a first-round pick, a top prospect, plus something else for Kevin Shattenkirk.
“Now, what we also know is this: On three occasions – dating back to the Edmonton Oilers last summer, another team in November, and most recently another team in the last month – there have been deals consummated or conditionally consummated with the St. Louis Blues for Kevin Shattenkirk if he signed a long-term extension. But in each of those three instances, Shattenkirk was not able to come to an agreement. And the one most recently, in the last month or so, we believe was a seven-year, $42 million total, worth $6 million a year.
“So we’ll see what happens between now and Wednesday.”
Jeremy Rutherford of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday evening that “the swap of Shattenkirk would have been with an Eastern Conference team and is believed to be the Tampa Bay Lightning, with whom the Blues have long been speculated to be in trade talks.”
Friday morning, as part of a lengthy Shattenkirk discussion that wove its way around various angles of the trade deadline, McKenzie speculated on what part of that deal may have looked like with the Lightning.
“I don’t know what their deal would have been with St. Louis five or six weeks ago,” said McKenzie while on Edmonton’s TSN 1260. “But I’m going to guess, and it’s only a guess – and I’m not reporting this, so anybody who’s writing down what I say…
“I’m thinking Tyler Johnson is part of that package going the other way because if Tampa was going to have Shattenkirk signed to a seven-year deal at $6 million a year, they’ve got to move out some money.
“And as I said, even quite aside from whether they get a defenseman or not, they can’t afford Drouin, Palat, and Johnson this summer. Not a chance in the world in my mind, unless I’m reading the numbers wrong.”
A little earlier Friday morning, Darren Dreger was also quizzed about Shattenkirk.
“The way I understand it, and Bob McKenzie reported this on Insider trading last night, is that if we’re using St. Louis and Tampa Bay as our model here – and it’s believed that might have been the most recent trade-and-sign scenario, my understanding is that Shattenkirk was essentially given 24 hours,” said Dreger during a radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050. “And how that would work is Armstrong would call his representative, Jordan Neumann, and say, ‘All right, I have an offer that I’m comfortable with – or at least I’m at a point where we’re closing in on the trade but I need you to agree to the terms that, again, the Tampa Bay Lightning are presenting here.’
“And it sounds like it was in that seven-year, $42 million total range.”
Dreger also tried to put the proverbial skate on the other foot, looking at the situation from the defenseman’s point of view.
“But I look at it from a business perspective here,” said Dreger. “What does Shattenkirk have to lose by saying no right now, unless it’s the perfect fit? He can stay in St. Louis. He’s comfortable. I can’t imagine Armstrong isn’t going to trade him. They need to get something in return – otherwise he walks for free. Or he goes to another team, finishes out, embraces the open market and has the full landscape ahead of him on July 1.”
The notion has been out there before, and Dreger has reported in the past, that the ask from Shattenkirk’s camp may be in or around the $7 million per year range.
Is Shattenkirk a $7 million defenseman?
“Well look, it doesn’t matter what I think,” said Dreger. “I’ve talked to many general managers who don’t believe that he is. He’s a terrific defenseman. I’ve had a number of interested GMs tell me they see him as a second-pairing guy, which would offend Shattenkirk to some degree, and those that represent him.
“I have no doubt he’s going to get that money on the open market. It may not be from a contending team because most of those teams are salary cap teams.
“And when you look at the $7 million men, who are we looking at here? We’re looking at Doughty. We’re looking at Pietrangelo. You’re looking at Weber. Go down the list of all of these great guys. I mean, is he better than Erik Karlsson. Is he better than Brent Burns, who extended in San Jose. No, but he’s very good. He’s that power play specialist and a second-pairing defenseman.”
“There is still a terrific amount of interest in Shattenkirk as a rental,” he noted. “The Toronto Maple Leafs are a strong suitor for Shattenkirk. I don’t know what the asking price is, but it’s too high for the Maple Leafs. It’s too high for the New York Rangers, who have dabbled a little bit there. It seems like they’re maybe zeroing in on Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings. Tampa Bay obviously we’ve talked about.
“There’s a rental market, but Armstrong is trying to maximize because he’s got a fan base to appease too. And the St. Louis Blues are still very much in the playoff picture. Third in the Central. If they trade Kevin Shattenkirk, it has to be for something that’s at least okay this year and helps in the future.
“If they don’t get that, I wonder if Armstrong doesn’t have a tough conversation with his owner to say, ‘Really? I know that it’s not good management to allow a third piece – Backes, Brouwer, and now Shattenkirk – to walk for free, but what about that playoff revenue that we might lose.’”
For reference: Covering the Insiders