From management to the players, the microscope will be on the organization after recent playoff failures.
Brian Elliott and Jake Allen will jostle for playing time in St. Louis. Similar scenarios could unfold with the Wild, Ducks and Sharks.
But fans heard this claim last season and saw the team suffer another early exit in the postseason.
Bernie Miklasz hosted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports beat writers for a roundtable session with readers on Monday night
(Updated) Enforcer spent the past five seasons with the Coyotes.
This post was originally published at TheHockeyWriters.com
Sometimes a trade has the most unexpected player shine brighter than the original cornerstones of the deal.
That can be said for Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who continues to prove that he is a player that should be held onto no matter what he may bring you in return.
Shattenkirk was traded along with right-winger Chris Stewart and the Avalanche’s 2nd round draft choice in 2011 (Ty Rattie) to St. Louis for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and the Blues’ 2011 1st round draft choice (Duncan Siemens) on February 19, 2011. The trade occurred just 46 games into Shattenkirk’s rookie season.
The big name in the trade belonged to a player headed to Colorado. Even TSN had the article title as “Blues Send Former No. 1 Pick Johnson to Avalanche.”
Johnson was the name behind the Blues’ rebuild. He was the player selected first overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft just a few short months after the Blues finished dead-last in the NHL standings. He was the player that was supposed to right the ship in St. Louis in the post-lockout era.
Shattenkirk was not even the one getting the publicity on the other end of the deal. Chris Stewart, a 28-goal scorer just the season before the trade, was the marquee name headed to the Blues. Stewart was believed to be a future star and a perennial power-forward in the NHL. Shattenkirk seemed like he was the afterthought that Avalanche GM Greg Sherman threw in to sweeten the deal.
Time has shown that may not have been the case.
Shattenkirk, 23, has jumped up the Blues’ depth chart, being the Blues’ #2 defenseman (behind Alex Pietrangelo). Shattenkirk is well known around the league for his offensive prowess. Sophomore slump is not a familiar term to Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk, who has posted three goals and three assists in six games played against the Avalanche since the trade, leads the Blues in power-play time-on-ice, averaging 2:49 each night. Currently, he is also tied for 5th on the team in points (23). Despite his skill in the offensive zone, that has not been the best part of Shattenkirk’s play.
The Greenwich, CT native has shelled out 47 hits this season. While that only ranks 14th on the team, he can be seen mixing it up in front of his goaltender at any given point after the puck is smothered. Shattenkirk’s strong defensive play comes from a steady stick and a level head. He currently leads all Blues defensemen in takeaways (28) and ranks 4th on the team in blocked shots (69). He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, no matter what the situation on the ice may be.
Shattenkirk has posted a plus-19 this season, ranking him 2nd on the team. The Blues have had a Cinderella-type season, posting 73 points thus far. They are just three points behind the Detroit Red Wings, who lead the NHL with 76 points. A lot of the success can be attributed to the defense being able to move the puck out of the defensive end as soon as the puck enters their grasp. While the entire team has done a great job in this aspect of the game, Shattenkirk stands out as the best puck-moving defenseman in St. Louis.
While it certainly takes time for a trade to come to fruition, early signs are pointing to the Blues being the victors in this deal. Chris Stewart has not exactly been what the Blues had hoped for, but he has not needed to be. Kevin Shattenkirk has been that vital to the Blues’ success.