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2017 NHL Trade Deadline Target: Kevin Shattenkirk would bring a lot of offence to Montreal

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Known to have the Canadiens on his trade list, does Shattenkirk make sense as a deadline acquisition?

Toronto Maple Leafs v St. Louis Blues

Kevin Shattenkirk’s name has been linked to the Montreal Canadiens on a few occasions this year. First Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Montreal would be a good place for him to showcase his talents on a rental basis. More recently, it was made public that Shattenkirk had the Canadiens on a 12-team list of destinations he would accept a trade to, and would be interested in signing his next long-term contract with the Habs.

Shattenkirk just turned 28 in late January. He is a right-handed defenceman who has enjoyed a lot of personal success in eight seasons in the NHL. He has done his greatest damage on the power play, putting up at least 25 points on the man advantage in the previous three seasons, and already amassing 20 (7G, 13A) through 60 games this year.

In 470 regular-season games, he has scored 66 goals and added 218 assists, with an additional 28 points in 47 playoff games. Over the last four years, he ranks 10th among NHL defencemen in points and eighth in goals.

With 42 points so far this season, Shattenkirk has hit at least 40 points in the last five full 82-game campaigns (he scored at a projected 39-point pace in 2012-13), and is on track for his best ever offensive season.

That’s perfect timing considering he’s due for a new contract this summer.

Cap considerations

The St. Louis Blues currently hold the third seed in the Central Division, though enter their bye week as one of just three teams sitting in a playoff position with a negative goal differential. The team would no doubt prefer to hold onto the offence that Shattenkirk brings — both for their post-season drive and into future years — but their salary cap situation makes that difficult.

The club already has $61 million committed to just 18 players for the 2017-18 season, while likely looking at a cap ceiling that will remain at around the $73 million it is this year. The team will have six skaters earning $5.3 million or more, and a new extension at $4.35 million per season going on the books for their starting goaltender.

The most pertinent financial detail to Shattenkirk’s standing with the team is that fellow right-handed defenceman Colton Parayko is also due for an extension this summer, as his entry-level contract is up at season’s end. Parayko has overtaken Shattenkirk on the Blues’ depth chart, becoming the right-side option on the second pair behind Alex Pietrangelo on the top duo. The Blues can’t afford to give Shattenkirk what he’s worth to play a third-pairing role, and with two other solid options on the right side, they don’t need to.

Is Shattenkirk a fit on Montreal?

The issue with a move to the Canadiens is that the Habs have a virtually identical situation. Shea Weber was just brought into the organization. His arrival required a franchise player to exit, meaning Marc Bergevin’s legacy is bolted onto the career of the former Predator, making Weber untouchable.

The bond between general manager and player isn’t quite so permanent in Jeff Petry’s case, but he’s still a top-four defenceman on the team, and signed for four more seasons to play that role. He makes less money than a top-10 offensive defenceman would command on the open market.

The only situation that really makes sense is for Shattenkirk to come in as a rental for a playoff run and leave in the off-season for greener pastures. That would no doubt give the Habs a major boost on defence, but the cost for making it happen would be high, and based on Bergevin’s previous comments on his approach to the trade deadline, perhaps prohibitively so.

The actual package may depend on where the Blues sit when the deadline rolls around on March 1. If they feel they can make the post-season, the demand may be for a roster player or two who can help them out on the defensive side, as they currently sit 10th in the Western Conference in goals allowed. If Nashville and Winnpeg put pressure on the Blues while they sit idle until Sunday, the plan may shift to a more long-term version, and mean the loss of high draft picks and potentially a promising prospect for a team looking to improve its defence corps.

Regardless of the situation, there will likely be a team that can offer more for Shattenkirk than Bergevin is able or willing to part with for what would likely be a short stay in Montreal.