Latest on the Blues and Blackhawks – August 20, 2016
More speculation on a Kevin Shattenkirk deal and guessing on what moves the Chicago Blackhawks will make after losing out in the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes.
STLTODAY.COM: During a recent live chat, Jeremy Rutherford was asked what forward the St. Louis Blues might package with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to land a forward such as New York Rangers winger Rick Nash. Noting the salary-cap hits of Shattenkirk ($4.25 million), Rutherford believes it’ll have to be a player earning $3.5 million to offset Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit. He suggests Patrik Berglund or Jori Lehtera would have to be included.
NBC SPORTS: Jame O’Brien believes the Blues would make a big mistake by trading Shattenkirk, suggesting it would be considered a panic move. He feels Blues management is underestimating Shattenkirk’s value. While Shattenkirk’s UFA status next summer is a concern, O’Brien notes the Blues could still fit him in under next season’s cap. It could be a tight squeeze but possible, especially if they opt not to re-sign oft-injured left wing Alexander Steen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space was the biggest concern for the Blues, but their decision to left David Backes and Troy Brouwer depart via free agency this summer somewhat alleviates that problem for 2017-18. I doubt they’ll offer up a significant pay raise on a long-term extension for Steen. If he won’t accept a two- or three-year deal worth a little less than his current $5.8 million annual cap hit, the Blues could let him go and use the savings on Shattenkirk. The Blues have two rising stars in left wings Jared Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, who could push Steen down the depth chart this season.
As for a Shattenkirk trade, I think that window has already closed. GM Doug Armstrong recently said he expected Shattenkirk will be with them to start the season and possibly beyond. While he could consider moving the rearguard before the start of the upcoming season, I think he’ll evaluate Shattenkirk’s performance through 2016-17.
CSN CHICAGO: With the Chicago Blackhawks losing out to the New York Rangers in the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes, Charlie Roumeliotis notes they still have sufficient cap space to add one more forward via free agency if they wish. One option is winger Jiri Hudler. Another could be Tomas Fleischmann, though he fizzled out after joining the Blackhawks in a late-season trade in 2015-16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see GM Stan Bowman looking at Hudler, provided he’s willing to accept an affordable one-year deal. The Hawks have around $2.4 million in cap space, but I doubt Hudler will accept anything below $2 million. I doubt Bowman will bring back Fleischmann. Brandon Pirri could be a better, younger option.