BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s been going on for the better part of a year plus, so there’s no surprise with the Bruins getting linked in the latest round of rumors with 28-year-old defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The latest word comes from a TSN Insider Trading segment where it appears Blues GM Doug Armstrong is willing to do a sign-and-trade with the puck-moving All-Star defenseman in order to maximize his trade value.
The struggling Blues fired head coach Ken Hitchcock amid some mediocre play earlier this week, and it sounds as if they’ve stepped up their efforts to move the offensive defenseman-in-demand currently headed into free agency this summer.
“Several teams have made calls to the St. Louis Blues for Kevin Shattenkirk, among them the Bruins and New York Rangers,” said TSN Insider Pierre Lebrun of Shattenkirk, who has 11 goals and 35 points along with a rough minus-12 rating in 51 games for the Blues this season. “But my understanding is that every single call has been for a rental situation only because a flat [salary] cap [for next season] might be scaring some teams off.”
The Bruins talked Shattenkirk trade with the Blues last summer, and the price was way too high with St. Louis looking for some lofty, unrealistic combination of David Pastrnak and first round draft picks. So it would stand to reason that Armstrong and the Blues would once again be looking for a king’s ransom for Shattenkirk if it was a sign-and-trade. That doesn’t even mention the potential 7-8 year contract extension at $7 million per season that the defenseman would be looking for in a market value contract with whatever team trades for him.
A source with knowledge of the situation told CSN New England around the NHL Draft that the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers were the three preferred destination spots for the Connecticut-born Shattenkirk if it was up to him.
So at the very least the former BU standout has some interest in playing for the Bruins, and clearly there is interest from a B’s hockey club that attempted to trade for Shattenkirk around the time he was dealt from Colorado to St. Louis.
Shattenkirk’s elite puck-moving abilities and his smooth skills as a power play quarterback would be an immediate upgrade for the Bruins, and would give the Bruins the type of mobile, offensively dangerous D-man they haven’t had on their top-4 in some time. But Shattenkirk is also a second pairing defenseman at best in St. Louis, and sacrificing that level of assets and dollars for him would be a tough for any team, even a club like the Bruins that clearly needs another quality defenseman.
Add in the factor that the Bruins be shelling out major dollars for an All-Star defenseman approaching his thirties, and this sign-and-trade scenario is one the B’s should avoid. The better bet for a rebuilding team like the Bruins is to gamble that no other NHL club is willing to go the sign-and-trade route for Shattenkirk prior to the March 1 trade deadline, and instead make their best bid for him on July 1 when a team like Boston might be one of the favorites to land him.
Because unloading future assets and big dollars for a player ahead of the deadline hoping maybe he can help turn the Bruins into a playoff team down the stretch is the kind of short term decision-making that’s putting this team into so much turmoil.