Kevin Shattenkirk

Blues appear set in the short-term, but difficult decisions loom


Vladimir Tarasenko’s performance last season combined with his solid showing in 2013-14 gave the St. Louis Blues the confidence to sign him to a eight-year, $60 million contract.

With that the Blues are just about set for the 2015-16 campaign. They still need to re-sign restricted free agent Magnus Paajarvi, but that might be the only remaining action we see from them between now and the start of training camp.

That leaves St. Louis near the salary cap, but with a little bit of wiggle room, per General Fanager. The challenge will come next summer when David Backes and Troy Brouwer are set to become unrestricted free agents while Jaden Schwartz will test the restricted free agent market. Schwartz in particular will likely be expecting a big raise from his current $2.35 million cap hit, assuming he has another strong season after his 63-point 2014-15 campaign.

If the Blues intend to keep defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk then they’ll also need to account for the likelihood that he’ll ask for a big raise too once his current four-year, $17 million deal expires in the summer of 2017.

It sets up a scenario where St. Louis might be compelled over the next year or two to trade players they otherwise wouldn’t have to remain cap compliant.

The big X-Factor in this will be how much the ceiling rises, but as we’ve seen this year with the decline of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, big increases in the cap aren’t a given.

Related: Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors

Blues add depth on D, sign Benoit


Defenseman Andre Benoit has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues.

From the press release:

Benoit, 31, dressed in 59 regular season games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, posting nine points (one goal, eight assists) and 20 penalty minutes.

Overall, the 5’11, 192-pound has appeared in four National Hockey League (NHL) seasons, including stints with Ottawa, Colorado and Buffalo.  He has amassed 48 points (11 goals, 37 assists) and 60 penalty minutes in 179 career regular season games, as well as four assists and six penalty minutes in 12 career postseason games.

The Blues already have six d-men on one-way contracts for next season: Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, and Chris Butler. There’s also young Petteri Lindbohm, still on his entry-level deal.

Related: Blues inform Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed

Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors


After another first-round playoff exit, many expected some sort of roster shake-up in St. Louis — and over the last week or so, rumors have swirled about a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

On Wednesday, the Post-Dispatch tried to gauge the legitimacy of said rumors…

Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”

It’s easy to see why Shattenkirk would be in demand. At 26, he’s emerged as one of the NHL’s top young offensive defensemen — 44 points in just 56 games (abdomen injury) last year — and, in January, earned his first All-Star nod. He also carries a very reasonable $4.25M cap hit and is under contract through 2017.

Which begs the question — why would St. Louis move him?

Well, the Blues have Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked into sizable deals through 2019. That means the club might not have the money available to extend Shattenkirk, given he’d be in line for a sizable raise. What’s more, GM Doug Armstrong has some intriguing young d-man prospects in the pipeline — Joel Edmundson, Jordan Schmaltz, Petteri Lindbohm and Tommy Vanelli — that could push for a NHL gig by ’17.

And there is, of course, the shake-up theory. Moving Shattenkirk would be a bold move that reverberates throughout the room, something the club might consider given its recent playoff failures.

Blues inform Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed


Barret Jackman has spent his entire 803 game NHL career with St. Louis, but he will have a new home next season. The Blues have told the 34-year-old defenseman that they will not re-sign him, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jackman is coming off of a three-year, $9.5 million contract. He ranks second on the Blues’ all-time list in games played behind Bernie Federko (927 contests).

Despite his long tenure with the Blues, their decision not to retain him doesn’t come as much of a shock. Jackman logged an average of 20:40 minutes with St. Louis back in 2011-12, but his role with the team declined in each of the last three seasons to the point where he played just 16:48 minutes per game in 2014-15. He even ended up spending a couple games as a healthy scratch towards the end of the campaign.

St. Louis’ defensive core consists of Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Kevin Shattenkirk and the trio comes with a combined annual cap hit of roughly $16.2 million, so adding Jackman on top of that might have hindered their flexibility in other areas. St. Louis currently has about $57 million in cap space committed to 16 players next season, per General Fanager, and that’s not including RFA Vladimir Tarasenko.

Overtime format highlights competition committee meeting agenda


The topic of 3-on-3 overtime is one of a few topics on the agenda for Thursday’s competition committee meeting.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we could see a 3-on-3 overtime format tested during the preseason, but not implemented for the 2015-16 regular season.

Also on the agenda for this week’s meeting is the coach’s challenge, the idea of the center in the defensive zone putting his stick down first during face-offs and the salary cap escalator.

Recommendations made at the competition committee meeting would have to be voted on by the NHL’s Board of Governors in late June prior to being implemented for the 2015-16 season.

The aforementioned topics were all initially discussed at the March general managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.

General managers Ken Holland, Don Maloney, David Poile along with Ed Snider will represent league (with Colin Campbell in a non-voting role) at the meeting in New York.

Mike Cammalleri, Cory Schneider, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik represent the NHLPA (with Mathieu Schneider in a non-voting role).