As the trade deadline inches ever closer and Kevin Shattenkirk remains with the St. Louis Blues, news out of both camps about trade talks keeps squeaking out.
And yet, nothing sounds imminent.
It’s long been known that Shattenkirk, a New York native, would prefer to play on the East Coast. And once he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, he’ll have his pick of the East Coast litter.
But for now, that preference is affecting trade talks for the Blues. According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Shattenkirk has around 12 teams he’s interested in signing with long term.
And, per Kypreos, at least two of those are Canadian teams:
"Short-term, [Blues GM Doug Armstrong] could trade him anywhere, including to any Canadian city," explained Kypreos. "But there's a belief out there that he would not be traded to a Canadian team because there was really no chance on a long-term deal moving forward. I don't hear that's the case. I think on his wish list of long-term deals, he's got about 12 teams. I'm told two of them are Canadian teams. I think it's safe to say that he doesn't envision himself being an Edmonton Oiler or a Calgary Flame, but the feeling is Toronto and Montreal."
Toronto might well be a great fit on paper for a plethora of reasons. First, the Leafs have the assets for a trade. Goodness. So many assets: eight picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts and oozing with talented, young forward prospects. They’re also one of the youngest teams in the NHL, and Shattenkirk would fit right in as a great complement anchoring their blue line.
But at some point they’ll need to break the bank just to re-sign stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. That could make pricey negotiations with Shattenkirk difficult to nail down.
Montreal fits as well, if only as a rental option. The Habs have eight picks across the first two rounds in the next two drafts, and adding Shattenkirk would balance out their blueline between right-handed and left-handed shots. Plus, Shea Weber and Shattenkirk on the same power play? That’s a brutal playoff weapon.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also provided an interesting nugget during Hockey Night in Canada, revealing that the Arizona Coyotes and Oilers were granted permission to speak with Shattenkirk last summer but failed to agree on a long-term deal.
Patience might be the key factor holding all of this up. Doug Armstrong, the Blues general manager, is experienced and knows that teams could get more desperate and meet his high price as the deadline draws nearer. But teams also have the option of just waiting for Shattenkirk to hit the open market this summer and signing him then.
It just takes one team to send signals that it’s ready to pull the trigger on a trade, however. Then we might see a race truly begin.
Shattenkirk, 28, is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the NHL. The right-handed shot has put up at least 40 points in the last four seasons, and he is on pace for a career-high in the category this season.