Kevin Shattenkirk is one of several high-profile free agents the Blues will have to address over the summer. While it's extremely difficult to predict how much money some of the other pending free agents will receive, Shattenkirk's value might have just been measured by a contract handed out on the West Coast.
Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings just received a new six-year, $25 million contract. The defenseman will carry an average cap hit of $4,166,667 in each of the next six seasons. This deal was actually a bit under what some analysts were predicting, but it still gives us an idea of what's in store for Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk (24) and Voynov (23) are very similar. Shattenkirk has 66 points over his last 129 NHL games while Voynov has 45 points in his last 104 appearances. Voynov excelled in the 2013 playoffs, tallying 13 points in 18 games. Both men are extremely talented young defenseman coming off of their entry level contract. Voynov's value has been determined. Will Shattenkirk's fall in line?
Voynov very easily could have carried a cap hit of $5 million or more a season, but it seems like either the Kings were strong negotiators or the defenseman took some sort of discount. Shattenkirk's deal should be similar but it might edge above the $5 million mark. It's doubtful it will rise much higher than that as the Blues will have to ensure that Alex Pietrangelo is the highest paid defenseman on the roster.
The Shattenkirk-Pietrangelo situation is similar to the Voynov-Doughty situation out in LA. Voynov was due a large raise, but the Kings knew they had to keep a decent amount of distance between Voynov's contract ($4.1 million) and Doughty's ($7 million). The case should be similar in St. Louis as Pietrangelo should see a massive deal in the $6-$8 million range and Shattenkirk's should check in just below it.
I think that's great speculation on the potential contract value, but hearing the numbers laid out like that does beg the question - is this a good idea?
I think it's obvious the value that Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk demonstrate regularly on the ice, but it's scary to consider wrapping up that much money in 2 players when you're in a much smaller market than L.A. Let's say that between the two of them, they make about what Voynov & Doughty make....an 11.1 million dollar average cap hit for the next 5 or so years. It doesn't sound too hard to stomach when you consider the offensive production and their development as defenders, right?
The scary part for me is thinking about all of the other money that we have tied up for the next few years...Backes, Oshie, Perron, Jackman, Polak....all making significant dollars for the future. It leaves very little money to spend anywhere, especially if other players are signed for similar money, like Stewart, Berglund, and the potential for healthy raises for Sobotka and Schwartz next year. Again, not too concerning considering the core still playing pretty strong hockey, but we still lack the flexibility to transform a strong team into a cup contender with a frontline scorer. Or with a defender to play with Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo....remember how scary that blue line was before the 10 million dollar cap hit of Bouwmeester and Leopold came to town? It almost certainly assures us that those two will be gone....does that leave us with a weak defensive presence on our top two lines again?
Truthfully, I think paying them in line with what L.A. gave is appropriate. I also don't think you have a lot of choice if you're Armstrong...you can't let that young talent out the door just because it'd be expensive. But I do worry that what L.A. can afford to do for their young players might cripple a budget-conscious team like the Blues if the lineup doesn't develop into a cup contender soon.
@lizardkingjl I think a lot of this comes down to a fact that no one currently knows: How much is Tom Stillman and his group willing to spend? His group made what I think was a wise financial decision in selling the Rivermen and I think (and hope) that money will go back into the lineup.
I think they (just like us) know how valuable these two guys are and know they have to keep them in the mix if they 1) want to win a Cup and 2) don't want us all to riot. The situation is one that's inevitable, but it's not one everyone will be comfortable with. As of today, the Blues have a payroll of $41.8 million. We all know that number is going to rise quite a bit considering all of the names yet to be signed.
The new cap hits from Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk won't be pretty, especially under the $64.3 million cap for 2013-14. If say Shattenkirk receives $5 million and Pietrangelo receives $7 million, that's $12 million (or roughly 18%) tied up in two guys. Kind of scary and unfamiliar territory considering the team's recent cap management.
However, the cap is expected to rise to somewhere around $70 million as soon as 2014-15. In the big picture the Blues will still have more than enough room under the cap even after signing their free agents. They might even swing a trade which cuts some salary but brings in a bigger name/paycheck.
Bouwmeester is tricky. I can't envision a scenario where the Blues will give Bouwmeester a deal close to what he makes now ($6.8 million). It's possible, but it wouldn't fit in with the Blues' budget we've seen over the last few years.
Agreed, the Stillman factor is a big one. I'm feeling very hopeful, though, and I'll put my faith in Stillman's wallet, Armstrong's decisions, and Hitchcock's coacing. Still hoping for some kind of splash on the first line, though. With all the money Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo command, I expect it'd come via trade. We'll see- nice article!