Last Night the St. Louis Blues improved their winning streak to an impressive 6 games against the Vancouver Canucks. Kevin Shattenkirk netted 3 Assists in the contest and his always “team first” mindset showed last night. Shattenkirk’s name has been all over NHL Rumor Mills and Social Media Platforms as of late, but as we can see from last nights performance, he has not let it affect his play.
As arguably the top player on everyone’s board when it comes to acquisitions at the NHL trade deadline, the 28-year-old Shattenkirk will continue to appear in the lineup for the Blues unless something drastic happens. He is in the last year of a four-year, $17 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent as of July 1.
Shattenkirk is taking all of this talk lightly though as talks escalated recently after the Canadian road trip. Shattenkirk had this to say recently in regard to all of the discussion.
“No different than I have been really,” Shattenkirk said. “I think last week was probably the toughest week just as far as media and the attention being in Canada. I want to say in a way, I have a luxury of playing in St. Louis because it’s not really at the forefront, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s something that I’m prepared for and I’m ready to take it day-by-day and see (what) comes and goes. It’s been present all year, so I think that helped me deal with it.”
Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo had this to say about how Shattenkirk has held himself as of late.
“So much media attention, and it’s a popular story right now,” Yeo said. “But I think he’s doing an unbelievable job of putting it aside. He answers the questions; he doesn’t dodge it. But when it comes time for game time, his focus is on his team, and that’s a real credit for him.
Yeo was also asked if they had discussed the situation together and how he responded.
“Unbelievably well, and we’ve had a couple of conversations about this,” Yeo said. “I’ve been around to see some similar situations where it really affects a player’s play. I haven’t seen that from him at all, and I really credit the reason for that is he has been all-in to our group and I give him so much credit for that. He could be focused on himself and his own situation, but he’s trying to help us win. He’s trying to buy in and to dig in to the game that we’re trying to play. I’m happy that he’s getting rewarded for that as well.
“If something happens, then it happens, but until then, he’s on this team and he’s a real important player for us and he’s proven that.”
When Yeo took over for recently fired Ken Hitchcock he felt it was neccesarry to address the situation before it became an issue. Shattenkirk shared the experience.
“He’s pulled me aside and just checked in really just to make sure I’m doing alright,” Shattenkirk said. “I think he knew that the last road trip was a little tough on me, but he’s helped me focus on what’s going on here and he’s asked me to really, as a leader, to buy into what he’s selling. I think it’s easy for me to do that because he’s someone who I enjoy having as a coach and is someone I want the respect of down the road.”
Obviously the Blues would like to keep Shattenkirk here for the long haul, but the price tag is looking out of reach for GM Doug Armstrong and the front office. With his impending UFA status and the potential price tag expected to be anywhere from $6-7 million per season on a long-term contract the Blues might not be able to match his price tag.
Shattenkirk has always maintained his love for St. Louis and the Blues, who traded for him, Chris Stewart and a conditional second-round pick from the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 11, 2011 for 2006 No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first-round pick. But when asked if he’d prefer to remain with the Blues, Shattenkirk isn’t looking too far ahead, but in the moment.
“It’s tough,” Shattenkirk said. “You don’t know what the situation’s going to be. It’s hard for me … I think right now, what I’m trying to focus on is right here and now, and it’s tough for me to think about that. That’s something that you have to think about once you’re done playing for the season, and we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. There’s obviously other situations that are presenting themselves now and that’s one that you kind of forget about sometimes.”