The Blues and Rangers are in a showdown over Shattenkirk, who blinks first?


The trade deadline is just days away and this weekend the buzz around Shattenkirk coming to the Rangers is at an all time high. Hockey insiders have been discussing both parties in the same sentence and basically calling it the inevitable. Will it happen?

The Latest

Here’s what we know…Kevin Shattenkirk has nixed two deals we know of and Bob McKenzie stated there was a third. One during the summer that would’ve sent him to Edmonton and another 6 weeks ago to Tampa Bay. In both cases, Shattenkirk would not commit to signing an extension. The recent one with Tampa is even more intriguing because it was a sign and trade where he would’ve earned a $42M contract.

Now we learned that Toronto has eyes on him and wants to give him a lucrative long term contract. His response to that information was vague at best.

“I don’t know, that is another situation that could come up,” Shattenkirk said of the long-term contract. “Really I’ve just been taking it on a day-by-day approach. Today, it’s focusing on the game (Sunday) against Chicago and if a phone call comes in, then you have to deal with that as it comes. But you really never know how you’re going to feel about a place or what you’re going to want to do until the opportunity presents itself.” –Stl Dispatch

All this points to what FullTiltNYR learned in the summer, Shattenkirk wants to fulfill his childhood dream and play for the Rangers. He and his agent have been in essence positioning themselves for this scenario.

Dream to Reality?

The believed rental price is a first round pick and a prospect. St. Louis wants more but that would require them to pull off a sign and trade before the deadline and that is looking unlikely.

Bob McKenzie, hockey’s top insider recently speculated the following on twitter (read from bottom up):

McKenzie (Twitter)

Elliotte Friedman then said last night on HNIC the following about the nixed deal to Tampa:

There were some people last night who were speculating that Shattenkirk said no because it wasn’t enough. I think it’s because – and I’ve written this and said this – there’s a theory out there that he wants to play for the Rangers. He’s a Connecticut guy. He wants to go back up there. And that the Rangers are his No. 1 choice and the Bruins are his No. 2 choice, with the Rangers really being the team he wants to go to. – FanRagSports

The Showdown

Shattenkirk (getty)

If Shattenkirk is hellbent on making his childhood dream come true then he’s handcuffed the Blues GM, Doug Armstrong. The Blues have lost both David Backes and Troy Brouwer for nothing last season and face the real possibility of losing Shattenkirk as well. That is not good asset management so Armstrong has to get something for his stud blue-liner.

Rangers GM, Jeff Gorton could easily cave and give up a 1st round pick, and a prospect for Shattenkirk, but why do that if you know you hold all the cards. As the deadline draws near these two general managers are in a showdown, playing a game of chicken to see who blinks first.

In Armstrong’s favor is that there could be a team contending for the Cup that will fork over a 1st and prospect without any certainty that Shattenkirk will sign before UFA status kicks in. The likelihood though is slim because if that team were to give up that much, not win, and lose Shattenkirk in the summer….it would look pretty bad to their fans and that GM’s boss.

Which brings us back to Gorton who does have a plethora of young forwards he could move to St. Louis. Players like Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast come to mind right away because of how deep they are up front. Maybe adding a mid level prospect and a 2nd or 3rd round pick makes both parties happy. Kevin Klein could also be made expendable in the right deal. If Gorton could pull that off, it would be a big win for the Rangers and they wouldn’t have to sign Shattenkirk until after the expansion draft on June 21st.

Who Will Blink First

At this point it appears Armstrong will blink first and deal Shattenkirk to the Rangers for a reasonable package. Should another team throw caution into the wind for a chance at the Cup and give them their rental price demands, so be it. That means Armstrong stood strong and got lucky.

No matter what, as long as Gorton doesn’t cave he wins. He could let this go and sign Shattenkirk for free this summer. Gorton simply needs to read the cards on the table and play his hand accordingly. Shattenkirk wants to play for the Rangers, or at least have the opportunity to work out a deal with them this summer. If it wasn’t his ultimate goal, he would’ve already worked out a sign and trade with another team.

For now, the game of chicken is in full force…who blinks first? My money is on Armstrong because losing a third player for nothing to free agency is career suicide.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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