Can the Leafs make a play for Shattenkirk?

If you look at the Leafs’ current roster, in terms of pure talent, they’re probably lacking the most in their forward group. While Babcock has been able to roll over lines that are much better than expected in terms of pushing play in the right direction, it’s been no secret that finishing power and any sort of major playmaking ability is still what they need the most. However, if you view things from a little higher up, it’s actually the blue line where this organization as a whole is the weakest. 

Outside of Gardiner and Rielly as the two key long term top-four cogs with the big club, and Travis Dermott, who, as a second-round pick, is still a long shot to be a real high-end NHL player down the road, the Leafs aren’t exactly looking at much in terms of real top-flight defencemen. This isn’t news, we’ve been talking about it for what seems like years. With the short and long term future in mind, they still need to find a way to land a top-pairing guy, and now there happens to be one hitting the market.

Since the trade market seemed to turn up a few notches after the turn of the year, the St. Louis Blues have apparently been prepared for offers on Kevin Shattenkirk. This has been reported by a few legit insiders, and the story goes that St. Louis basically needs scoring help up front and also doesn’t want to pay him in 2017. It’ll likely be a poor move by them to trade him, but hey, we’re not here to argue that.

The Blues have been heavily linked to Jonathan Drouin through his current situation with Tampa, so the idea of them pursuing some scoring obviously has legs. But it’s unclear whether Shattenkirk is much of a fit with the Lightning due to Yzerman looking to bring back a younger cheaper player, and there’s the potential for their own offensive concerns to arise if both forwards Drouin and Stamkos leave town. 

If Shattenkirk is really in play, and the Blues want some added scoring, Kadri and van Riemsdyk make sense as options from the Leafs (though it should be noted van Riemsdyk’s injury now makes him questionable as being able help much this season). 

If the Leafs could come up with something that makes sense for Doug Armstrong, could this be worth kicking tires on for a building team? It was believed the Johansen for Seth Jones deal this past week was almost Johansen for Shattenkirk, so you can see how Kadri’s name especially might make sense here, given his similar output and age to the former Jacket.

From Frank Seravelli at TSN:

Shattenkirk has one more season left at a manageable $4.25 million. It’s unlikely that the budget-conscious Blues will ultimately sign Shattenkirk to a new deal with a higher AAV than Pietrangelo’s $6.5 million, which is Shattenkirk’s market value.

If a move like this was going to make sense, the Leafs would obviously go into it with the intention of paying Shattenkirk the money St. Louis won’t next summer. At 26-years-old, he should have plenty of good years ahead of him, so he’ll be worth it. The big thing for management in Toronto would be how they feel about their chances of shedding other money in the form of players like Phaneuf and Lupul, for example.

It’s easy to oversimplify the Leafs’ rebuild approach and say they shouldn’t make any moves like this and instead just hold on and draft and draft and draft, but no team does that, especially the winning ones. There has to be risks involved. The Hawks took a big one prior their Cup window with Brian Campbell, the Bruins did the same with Chara, the Wild with Suter, and so on. Those were free agent additions, sure, but the point is it’s hard to argue with putting a premium on building your blue line, and that’s perhaps even truer these days. 

Here’s a quick look at how Shattenkirk has done possession-wise since entering the league in 2010, to go along with a 0.60 point-per-game pace for his career, or about 49 points per season – the same output as Nazem Kadri…as a defenceman.

Season     
CF%   
CF%Rel   
2015.16 55.1 4.7
2014.15 55.1 4.7
2013.14 55.6 2.7
2012.13 54.8 3.8
2011.12 55.0 1.3
2010.11 50.3 2.7

A top-pairing guy like Shattenkirk with strong underlying numbers and a lot of offensive punch is exactly what any team needs to build with (obviously), and since his name is now surprisingly out there, the Leafs more than anyone should at least be looking at if they can make something work.

  • Gary Empey

    I think this would be a brilliant coup for Toronto. Excellent player to have in his prime when the youngsters start maturing. I think the leafs have the assets but they’re not the ones they will be willing to give up.
    Nothing more than a pipe dream.

  • BarelyComments

    If the leafs could deal one of Kadri or JVR (maybe plus something smaller) for Shattenkirk that would be a steal, your d-core is essentially set for the next 8-10 years with that one through three…

    • BarelyComments

      I think that was the point of the little Corsi chart. Granted, maybe he allows a lot of shots but just puts that many more on net when he plays, but at least the scales are tipped in his/their favour. I definitely think the tables have shifted though from the previous thought a few years ago that Pietrangelo is the more valuable of the two as Pietrangelo has become the Seabrook to Shattenkirk’s Keith. I just think, if you can land a PP stand-out like Shattenkirk, Gardiner becomes that much more expendable with guys like Percy and Dermott in the system to fill out a 6/7 scoring depth role/2nd PP quarterback. Also, it is a lot easier to trade a guy like Gardiner for a more shutdown defender than the other way around.

      That all being said, I think Kadri is merely a starting point in the conversation and any trade would need another major piece. At least Drouin’s potential ceiling is still viewed as high while most people know where Kadri will generally fall for the remainder of his career. Granted, the Blues have had some luck when it comes to former Leafs…

  • BarelyComments

    jvr for shattenkirk straight up. i think the blues are dumb enough to do this! jvr is capable of producing 60 points. imagine him with tarasenko and steen as his linemates… easily can hit 70. that’s very good for them. jvr can score a lot. shattenkirk is an elite d-man and the blues are trading and committed to the wrong d-man seeing as shattenkirk > pietroangelo when looking at analytics… shattenkirk and rielly or shattenkirk and gardiner for the next decade sounds like a dream come true!!! if we draft chychrun, we get rielly, shattenkirk, chychrun and gardiner. instantly one of the best defence cores in the entire nhl!! imagine them with nylander, kapanen and marner… man oh man. the leafs should inquire immediately.

  • BarelyComments

    While he is a very good player, Shattenkirk’s age, salary and term requirements don’t really fit the rebuild. He’ll need a new contract in a year. JvR is signed for four more years and Kadri will sign long term after this season. I would not trade JvR or Kadri at this point because they have demonstrated much more untapped potential than previously thought. They have improved and thrived in year one of the new systems and will likely continue to develop in a positive direction as familiarity eventually breeds creativity. As a general rule, I would never trade offensive talent for a defenseman because defense can be taught. Offence can’t. The Johansen for Jones trade was idiotic on the part of CBJ because it compounded a problem created by Tortorella. The Blues are going to have a tough time finding scoring help because they fell in love with their own players for a little too long and made some poor trades and signings. Oshie needed to be traded after the Olympics for a younger prospect but instead went for Brouwer? They sign Paul Stastny despite him clearly declining. Shattenkirk is their best trade chip but I suspect GM Armstrong will get slightly fleeced because he’s not very good at team construction.

    • Gary Empey

      Re-“never trade offensive talent for a defenseman because defense can be taught”

      If that were true then we would see a lot more Duncan Keiths, Bobby Orrs etc. All we have to do is teach them.

    • Gary Empey

      he’s 26 and hasn’t even hit his prime yet. he’s jvr and patrick kane’s age lol. the big contracts are coming off the books in a few years excluding phaneuf (komarov, lupul and bozak are all ufa in 2018). phaneuf is gone a few years after that unless we trade him or the others before their contract expires (komarov and bozak are playing their way out of here!) we can’t just have all of those young guys on the team. kadri isn’t guaranteed and jvr isn’t either tbh. this is a rebuild. you need a mix of vets and young guys. jvr and kadri can be traded with ease as they are highly sought commodities especially jvr as a huge, fast, skilled big guy. we are weak on defence let alone rd and shattenkirk is one of the best in the nhl not getting his props. he would have likely a norris nominee if not for his injury last year. the leafs already have marner, kapanen, nylander and others such as johnson, brown, maybe leipsic, timashov. lots of offence in the system. they have little to no d prospects besides dermott who doesn’t project as a top d-man. the leafs are weak at this position and should inquire immediately. jvr can be replaced. rielly needs a d-partner before we waste him like we wasted kessel’s prime. wtf are you talking about? stastny isn’t declining, he’s injury prone. if shattenkirk is available and it costs jvr, so be it. sad to see him go but we got him for luke schenn and now we could possibly use him to get a bonafide #1 d.

  • Gary Empey

    @Ushaped

    Defensive responsibility can be taught, that’s what the saying refers to. Not the position of defense.

    Shattenkirk thrives in both an offensive and a defensive sense so I don’t quite know if that argument holds any water in this case.