Not only did the Blues sign Patrik Berglund on Tuesday, but the club also announced the re-signing of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as well. The Blues and Shattenkirk agreed on a four-year deal worth $17 million ($4.25 annually).
The deal comes as the beginning of free agency draws near. On July 5, teams are able to submit offer sheets to restricted free agents. The Blues were hoping to get theirs signed before this date. Shattenkirk, who is considered a top defenseman for the Blues, and highly regarded around the league, could have signed an offer sheet to go elsewhere. But for the next four year, he will have a home in St. Louis.
"Obviously I'm on cloud nine right now,” said Shattenkirk on Wednesday. “This is a great opportunity for me," Shattenkirk said. "To have the type of commitment that the Blues made and the faith that they have in me to perform and showing it in this way is pretty special.”
Shattenkirk has been consistent offensively every season since coming into the league during the 2010-11 season. That consistency is the reason the Blues traded Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche to bring the young Shattenkirk to St. Louis. That consistency is why the Blues and Shattenkirk were able to reach a deal so quickly.
“We started (discussions) about three weeks ago,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. “Jordan Neumann (Shattenkirk’s agent) and I talked about Kevin and the first part of the equation was letting him know that he was part of our core group now and moving forward. We wanted to do something to make sure he was here. It just became an economic issue. In his first three years as a professional, he has been a very consistent offensive producer. It made the deal easier.”
"We both wanted to get something done and I think there was a deal to be had the whole way through,” added Shattenkirk. ”It's nice to have this weight off my back and focus on things going forward for the rest of the summer."
Shattenkirk was coming off of his three-year entry-level contract. He spent the majority of the three years with the Blues, and two of them were campaigns in which Shattenkirk and the Blues made the postseason. For Shattenkirk, the Blues have so much upside, but he knew from the get-go that St. Louis was a perfect fit for him.
“With the Blues, I’ve always felt comfortable in the locker room, with the team, with management,” said Shattenkirk. “My first conversation with ‘Army’ was him saying we weren’t going to make this trade unless you were involved. From that moment on I knew how much he valued me. It has just made it easier to play in St. Louis when your coaches and management have that confidence in you to be an elite player. You feel like you are wanted. I wouldn’t say that I felt obligated to do it; I wanted to do it. This is a place I can definitely grow as a player and become the player I want to be.”
Shattenkirk has already grown significantly. In his most recent season, the 24-year old defenseman dressed in all 48 games, and put up good offensive numbers. He was second among Blues defensemen in points (23), and tied with Alex Pietrangelo for the team lead in goals by a defenseman (5). The Blues feel that Shattenkirk’s best years have yet to come.
“We think he is just scratching the surface on how good of a player he can be,” said Armstrong. “He can affect our team in many different areas moving forward. We are really excited to have him as part of our core group moving forward.”
As Armstrong pointed out on Wednesday’s conference call, in each of the past three seasons, Shattenkirk has finished in the Top 25 in scoring by a defenseman, which is a rare feat. Not only is Shattenkirk solid offensively, he is working to improve his defensive game and become a better all-around player. It’s safe to say that he will only get better. He also believes that the Blues will get better.
“I really believe that we have one of the best defensive corps in the league,” said Shattenkirk. “Going forward we have as solid a blue line as anyone. The more experience we have and time we have to play together, we are only going to get better.”
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound defenseman has a lot of upside, but what makes this signing so special is the chemistry between the player and the team. For Shattenkirk, St. Louis is home, and for the Blues, Shattenkirk is a vital part of their core.