The trade deadline is March 1st. Just 7 days away. What will the Blues look like on March 2nd? I personally think the team will be exactly the same. Here’s why: General Manager Doug Armstrong will consider the Blues to be in a strong playoff position, and the services of trade candidates Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrik Berglund will be needed to help the team in the postseason. So he’ll stand pat, not in a position to sell or buy.
And that’s a shame. Armstrong has a unique opportunity this year. Kevin Shattenkirk is THE top prize of the deadline. He’s an elite offensive defenseman, with 11 goals and 42 points in 60 games played. He’s a power play quarterback, and a leader. Any playoff team would love to have him.
But not just any team will get him. Reports before the season have said he’s willing to sign a contract with only an Eastern Conference team. He’s from there – born in New York and playing college hockey for Boston University. So that limits the number of teams, realistically, with which Armstrong can make a deal. It’s unlikely a team will trade for him as just a rental for the stretch run and playoffs, without any real hope of signing him to an extension.
So let’s look at a couple f possible landing places. First, the New York Rangers. Their top scoring D-man is Ryan McDonagh (34 points, only 3 goals). They have forward depth from which to trade. The Blues have been reported to have interest in power forward Rick Nash. I personally think Nash would look good on a line with Berglund and Perron. Shattenkirk is no doubt appealing to the rangers. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is passing his prime. Their Cup window may be closing.
Another possible destination is the Boston Bruins. Shattenkirk would instantly be their top offensive defenseman, and he would bolster a power play that trails Montreal and Toronto, their Atlantic rivals, in success percentage. He’d be reunited with former teammate David Backes, who signed with the Bruins as a free agent this past summer. They could offer C David Krejci, who would slot in behind Paul Stastny in the Blues’ top 6 forwards.
It was reported by Bruce Garrioch that the price for Shattenkirk is a high prospect, first-round draft pick, and an NHL piece. That’s steep, but fitting for this deadline’s prize. If Doug Armstrong can’t get close to this package, he should hold pat. And when I say close, I mean a high pick and a ranked prospect, if not also a roster player.
Such a package would bolster the Blues’ prospect pipeline, which is largely devoid of high-end talent. This is partially due to drafting low due to being a playoff team the past few years.
Armstrong should not forego this opportunity to help the Blues for the future. So we’ll see. One week to go.
Thanks for reading.
*Image courtesy of Sarah Connors – Flickr.