QUICK HIT: Great return in Shatty Trade

It’s getting late Monday evening, and finally, the Shattenkirk trade appears to be happening. It’s being reported that the Washington Capitals are acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues for a 201 7 1st-round pick, a conditional 2018 2nd-round pick, and forward prospect Zach Sanford.

This would be a terrific package for the Blues. Long thought to be seeking a first-rounder, plus a prospect, Shattenkirk’s value has held up as other players have been dealt today and in the previous couple of days.

Sanford is a key part of this deal. He’s a tall centerman at 6’4, and was a 2nd-round pick in 2013. He’s played a couple dozen games for the Capitals this year, scoring 2 goals. Over the past 2 seasons at Boston College, he scored 63 points in 79 games. He will likely see playing time with the Blues down the stretch, as Fabbri’s injury has created space. According to Hockey’s Future, he could project as a top 6 forward.

I’m thrilled that the Blues were indeed able to get a 1st-round pick back. While I’m disappointed the Blues didn’t get a legit scoring center, this deal is a rental package, instead of the “sign and trade” the team tried to pull off with a different Eastern team a few weeks ago.

Thanks for reading.

*Capitals logo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


What’s the Shatty Deal?

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.

The Case Against Re-Signing Berglund

This may very well be a moot point after the trade deadline. Doug Armstrong may move Berglund to another contender for a prospect and/or pick. But let’s assume that Patrik Berglund plays out the year for the Blues. Then he becomes a free agent, and the Blues have a decision to make.

Does Doug Armstrong offer the Swedish centerman another contract? Or does he let him walk to another team? Berglund for years has been a player on which Blues fans love to hate. Some of that is unwarranted, of course. Berglund has been a productive two-way forward for several years now. He’s twice topped 20 goals in a season. He’s anchored the middle 6 forwards for many different Blues rosters.

But Berglund can be very streaky. His point production hasn’t passed 38 points since his third season in the league, when he scored a career-high 52 points. The Blues, and their fans, thought he was slowly blossoming into a top 2 center, but instead he’s settled into a third-line role.

In the summer of 2014, after he scored just 14 goals, the Blues extended him to a three-year, $11.1 million contract. This struck many in the fan base as odd, as at the time, a forward earning almost $4 million per season was usually a top 6 forward. Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis, in the summer of ’14, signed a 5-year, $23 million contract. He put up 89 points over the 2013/14 and 14/15 seasons. The Canadiens’ David Desharnais, in the spring of 2013, signed a 4-year, $14 million contract. He scored 100 points over the next 2 years.

Berglund, however, notched just 12 goals the year following his extension. Many fans viewed Berglund as overpaid and under-producing.

This year he’s had a goal resurgence, with 17 over 57 games played. But it seems his play-making ability has decreased recently. He had just 5 assists last season, and has just 7 so far this season. Let’s not fail to consider the contract year factor. This wouldn’t be the first time, nor will it be the last, that a player with an expiring contract plays well to raise his value and negotiating power for his next contract. During the 2014-15 season, Matt Beleskey scored a career-high 32 points before becoming a free agent. Thomas Plekanec put up a very respectable 54 points in 2015-16, earning a 2-year, $12 million extension.

So the Blues may well be tempted to try to bring Berglund back. But this would be a mistake. Players don’t often take pay cuts, and, especially if he notches 20 goals this year or more, Berglund will be asking for more than $4 million a year. Since history shows that he’s as likely to NOT score 20 goals in a season, he’d be (again) overpaid.

The Blues would do better to bring in a new face, hopefully a genuine top 2 center next year. Ivan Barbashev is playing well, and he could be a candidate to take over the middle of the third line. Doug Armstrong will need Berglund’s cap space, and Kevin Shattenkirk’s, in order to accommodate that center.

Berglund has had a very nice career for the Blues. But it’s time for him and the team to amicably part ways.

Thanks for reading.

*Image courtesy Wikipedia Creative Commons