Shattenkirk-less Blues focus on snapping out of slump
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues will enter the post-Kevin Shattenkirk era when they host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Shattenkirk was traded to Washington late Monday night. The Blues received a first-round pick in 2017 and a conditional second-round pick along with forward Zach Sanford for the offensively gifted defenseman. A separate deal between the teams sent forward Brad Malone to St. Louis for goalie Pheonix Copley.
Shattenkirk, 28, had 258 points in 424 games in St. Louis and ranks No. 4 among all NHL defensemen this season with 42 points in 60 games. It’s speculated that he can command a seven-year, $49 million contract on the open market, which would make it impossible for the Blues to re-sign him under their salary cap.
Last week, multiple sources reported that this past offseason, the Blues had agreements to trade Shattenkirk to the Oilers or to an undisclosed Eastern Division team, but Shattenkirk vetoed the deals by refusing to sign a contract extension with either team.
The mystery team was widely believed to be Tampa Bay, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Both extensions were reportedly in the seven-year, $42 million range.
Sanford, 22, is 6-foot-4, 203 pounds, and was a second-round pick in 2013. He has two goals and one assist in 26 games this season. The 27-year-old Malone has dressed in 52 games for the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, this season, tallying 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists).
The Blues have lost their last three games after starting 7-1 under new coach Mike Yeo.
Their last loss, in Chicago on Sunday, came off their mandatory bye. Teams coming off the bye are now 6-15-4.
“We were right there,” said Blues goalie Jake Allen, who made 38 saves in the 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks. “We fought our way back in the game and it’s a tough one to swallow again. We’ve got to find ways to get even a point out of these games right now. They’re so crucial.”
The Blues are fourth in the Central Division with 67 points through 61 games. St. Louis is just two points ahead of Los Angeles for the final playoff spot.
The Blues also could be without forward Ryan Reaves, who hurt his foot blocking a shot Sunday. Reaves did not participate in Monday’s practice.
“Reavo was just getting his foot looked at,” Yeo told the Post-Dispatch. “He blocked a shot last night. I haven’t got word yet on how he’s going to be. He’s getting an X-ray we’ll find out shortly on how he is.”
The Oilers enter the contest losers of their last two games but are still tied with Anaheim for second in the Pacific Division with 74 points. Both teams have played 63 games, but the Ducks are idle until March 3.
In Sunday’s 5-4 loss at Nashville, the Oilers gave up three power-play goals and lost 43 of 66 faceoffs. Edmonton is the worst faceoff team in the league.
“When you’re in the 30th place in the league in the faceoff circle and there are 60 to 70 of them a night, you’re at a disadvantage,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “We beat that to death.”
Goalie Cam Talbot is expected to start his 57th game, a career high for a season. He is 31-18 with a 2.40 goals-against average, including a 2-0 mark with a 1.47 GAA against St. Louis this season.