ST. LOUIS, MO -- With the NHL trade deadline just days away, the biggest trading chip on the market is without a doubt St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
By now, everyone has heard the rumors that Shattenkirk turned down a seven-year extension, earning him $6 million per year, in a deal that would have sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Trades with Edmonton and Arizona also fell through.
A lot of people are complaining about Shattenkirk nixing the trade, but in all reality, he didn't kibosh the trade, he just nixed the contract.
In reality, sign-and-trades rarely happen. Blues General Manger Doug Armstrong has to do the best with what he has. The Blues can't afford another T.J. Oshie deal that brings back a third liner and a goalie prospect with questionable upside. If the Blues cannot find a deal that would bring back a top six center, they need to aim for a first round draft selection and a b-rated prospect, or a second round pick and a higher rated prospect. A roster player would likely have to be a part of any deal as well.
So for instance, a deal with Tampa Bay, for an unsigned Shattenkirk, would have to be a first round pick, a prospect such as Anthony Cirelli, and a roster player, perhaps omeone like Vladislav Namestnikov. If the Blues can get Cirelli and Namestnikov, I don't think many would argue if that pick was actually a conditional pick. Make it a second rounder if he walks as a UFA. Make it a first if he re-signs.
Everyone wants to talk about how Shattenkirk wants to play for the New York Rangers. Same way everyone said that Steven Stamkos was for sure going to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fact is, there are other teams that Shattenkirk would fit better in.
While I do think Shattenkirk ends up on the east coast, I don't believe that he will end up with the Rangers, despite how badly they need him. There are countless teams on the east coast looking for a player exactly like Shattenkirk. Personally, I believe the best fit for Shattenkirk is the Maple Leafs. With the youth movement in Toronto, they are setting up to become contenders for a very long time. With guys like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Nazem Kadri leading the offense, and boasting a pretty young, skilled blueline, things are looking up in Leafs Nation. When you're top four could be Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsevand Kevin Shattenkirk, you're looking at a contending team for a long time, as long as the goaltending is there. Right now, they have the goaltending.
Now, I could see why the Maple Leafs might shy away from throwing big money at Shattenkirk, considering the prospects coming up the pipeline. Eventually guys like Matthews, Marner and Nylander will need to be paid. A big contract for Shattenkirk could cause a few problems down the road, but getting a top point producer in the league, from the blueline, it just makes sense.
It's looking more like Shattenkirk will test the waters this July, however, as he's now nixed three deals with a contract extension in place.
First the Oilers deal fell through, a deal that likely would have brought back Taylor Hall for the Blues. Shattenkirk nixed that. He reportedly negotiated with the Coyotes, but nothing ever came to fruition there either. Now the Lightning?
Let's face it, Shattenkirk may not be able to veto a trade, he does have say in who he will play for next season, and that's a right that he had earned.
Fact of the matter is this, Shattenkirk has 20 or so games left of the regular season, then whatever playoff games he has with his new team. So without agreeing to an extension, Armstrong has to do what is best for the St. Louis Blues. If that means you only get a pick and a prospect, it better be a first round pick or a higher end prospect.
If Shattenkirk is still a member of the Blues on Thursday, Armstrong might want to hide all the pitchforks in the city of St. Louis, otherwise, they'll be marching towards the Scottrade Center.
You can't afford to waste an asset like Shattenkirk. Period.
Randall Ritchell is the St. Louis Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.