Blues' Shattenkirk could be trade deadline's big prize

It was six years ago this month that the St. Louis Blues acquired Kevin Shattenkirk from the Colorado Avalanche.

Now, Shattenkirk’s future in St. Louis is in question. The 28-year-old from New Rochelle, N.Y., is likely to draw the most buzz ahead of the March 1 trade deadline, a right-shooting defenceman on an expiring contract who offers almost unrivalled production from the back end.

“His offensive skills are top-notch,” teammate and frequent defensive partner Carl Gunnarsson said of Shattenkirk, who’s on pace for a career-best 16 goals and 57 points.

“He always seems like he’s finding the open guy and he’s always getting to the open spots,” added Colton Parayko, another member of the Blues defence. “He’s got a good shot, he’s a good passer, he’s got vision — pretty much everything you look for in an offensive defenceman.”

In fact, heading into Monday’s play, Shattenkirk was tied for 10th among all NHL defencemen with 238 points since the start of the 2011-12 season, 10th with 181 assists and 11th with 57 goals.

Potent on power play

It’s on the power play where he’s most potent though, making him especially attractive to potential suitors ahead of the deadline. Shattenkirk boasts 122 power-play points over the last five-plus seasons, second only to Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson among NHL defenders. His 31 power-play goals in that same stretch trail only Shea Weber and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Prior to Monday, he was tied for first at the position with 18 power-play points this season and second with seven power-play goals.

“It’s something I wish I could do, but there’s only a few guys in the league that have that kind of ability,” Gunnarsson said of Shattenkirk’s power-play prowess.

However appealing he may be as a trade chip before the deadline — just over two weeks away — the Blues might be better served keeping Shattenkirk themselves. For all their struggles this season (though not of late), St. Louis is still a viable threat to compete for the Stanley Cup after reaching the Western Conference final last year.

Shattenkirk garners only the fourth-most minutes on their defence (about 20 minutes per-game), but the club has no comparable threat for the offence he provides.

Stay tuned.

Trends

Perhaps to some alarm for the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price continues to trend downward this season.

Save percentage by month for the 29-year-old:

  • October: .954
  • November: .944
  • December: .899
  • January: .906
  • February: .879

Price is tied for ninth among NHL goaltenders with a .917 save percentage (min. 30 starts) and third with a .934 clip at even-strength. He’s struggled most with his team short-handed, yielding a league-leading 32 power-play goals against.

The Sullivan Bump

Pittsburgh went 33-16-5 with a plus-41 goal differential after replacing head coach Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan in mid-December last season, eventually capturing their fourth Stanley Cup the following spring. Teams opting to dismiss a coach mid-season can only hope for such a bump. Results have been positive for clubs making a move so far this season:

Florida Panthers

  • Change: Replaced Gerrard Gallant with Tom Rowe
  • Record at firing (goal differential): 11-10-1 (minus-2)
  • Since: 13-10-9 (minus-15)

New York Islanders

  • Change: Replaced Jack Capuano with Doug Weight
  • Record at firing (goal differential): 17-17-8 (minus-6)
  • Since: 8-2-2 (plus-11)

St. Louis Blues

  • Change: Replaced Ken Hitchcock with Mike Yeo
  • Record at firing (goal differential): 24-21-5 (minus-16)
  • Since: 5-1-0 (plus-12)

Boston Bruins

  • Change: Replaced Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy
  • Record at firing (goal differential): 26-23-6 (minus-6)
  • Since: 3-0-0 (plus-8)

Dallas goaltending

The much-maligned Stars goalie tandem of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen has been shockingly effective at five-on-five, Dallas sitting seventh overall with a .929 save percentage. It’s dreadful netminding on the league’s worst penalty kill that’s really doomed the Stars, the club sitting last by a wide margin with an ugly .819 save percentage.

Down year?

Corey Perry finally had his first multi-goal game of the season last week, scoring his 10th and 11th goals of the year in a win over Buffalo. The 31-year-old, who trails only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos with 311 goals since the 2007-08 season, is headed for his slimmest goal output since becoming a full-time NHL player.

Perry is on pace for a mere 16 goals or less than half of last year’s total (34).

The Peterborough, Ont., native appears to be suffering from some undue misfortune, currently shooting just 7.1 per cent — which would be a career low — on about the same number of shots per-game (2.7) as last year.

Prior to Monday’s games, Perry’s 11 goals were tied with Arizona’s Radim Vrbata and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the fewest among forwards with at least 150 shots this season.

10 with 10

Prior to Monday, only two teams had at least 10 players with 10 goals or more already this season: the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild.

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