Shattenkirk is in the final season of a four-year, $17 million deal and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If he were to agree to an extension with the team that acquires him, it could help the Blues garner more value in a trade.
I think St. Louis would be open to that kind of scenario under the right circumstances. But I’ve yet to hear of a single team that has actually contacted the Blues about it. Sources around the league indicate that all the clubs that have talked to St. Louis are interested more in a rental scenario for the defenseman.
"Because of the flat-cap fear," said one Eastern Conference team executive.
So many teams are hamstrung by the cap already, and offering $7 million a year to the 28-year-old blueliner would be a huge commitment to make before next season’s financial landscape is fully clear.
Don’t get me wrong; if Shattenkirk is still unsigned on July 1 and hits the market as the uncontested, No. 1 blueliner available, he’s going to get huge money. But I get the feeling some of the teams want to wait until June, when they know the exact salary-cap figure they're dealing with before splurging on him.
Then again, it’s early. Perhaps during the next three-plus weeks a team will decide that trying to sign him now is worth it after examining all of its options.
As speculated elsewhere, I believe the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are among the teams that have kicked the tires on Shattenkirk. But I also think that veteran Blues GM Doug Armstrong is in no hurry and will remain patient. The offers for the No. 1 available defenseman on this year’s market will only improve. There aren’t any better blueliners available.
I believe that Ken Hitchcock wants to coach again, but with a caveat. I think the right fit for the veteran coach will hinge on his working relationship with the team's GM and not its talent level. If Hitchcock finds a GM (like he had in Doug Armstrong) whom he can fully trust and who will let him flex his coaching philosophy, he would consider coaching again. He will not coach again just to coach.
Matt Duchene has no shortage of suitors, but the Colorado Avalanche are patiently waiting this out. If they don’t get the high-quality package they covet in return, they’re ready to wait until after the season. "There’s a better deal in June for them," opined one Western Conference team executive. The Montreal Canadiens, I believe, are among many interested teams -- but not at a sky-high price.
I still think 6-foot-6 pending unrestricted free-agent center Martin Hanzal is a better fit for the Habs because they need his size. I'm hearing that the Arizona Coyotes have serious inquiries from 10 teams and are in the process of whittling down the list.
The Los Angeles Kings and Avalanche chatted briefly last month about Gabriel Landeskog. But I don’t think there’s an obvious fit given the Avs’ penchant for a young, high-end defensive prospect as being part of any deal.
My understanding is that, for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the bigger picture still trumps all. Of course, winning this season is important, as it would help the growth of the team's young core. But I don’t think the Leafs will spend any high-end future assets for a big rental. So an impactful trade would need to address both short-term needs -- and beyond.
I don’t view the Edmonton Oilers as a current trade fit for Shattenkirk. The Oilers have taken significant strides this season and are likely playoff-bound, but now is not the time in their window to flush out major future assets for a costly rental.