Matching Minors: Should The Dallas Stars Pursue A Trade Involving Kevin Shattenkirk?

The elite Blues defender is apparently on the trade market. The Stars are a middle-tier defensive team. Is there a fit here?

Unless you've been living under a hockey rock lately (no, not that kind), you've probably heard the rumors that St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk might be available for trade.

Shattenkirk is 26 years old and one of the best young blueliners in the NHL. The Dallas Stars are 15th in the NHL in terms of goals against per game and 13th in terms of shots against, so there's definitely room there for improvement on the defensive side of things.

So, should the Stars toss their hat into the ring and make a move for Shattenkirk? Wes Lawrence and Derek Neumeier channel their inner politicians and debate the merits of such an idea.

1) Let's get right into it: should the Stars pursue a trade involving Shattenkirk?

Wes: Yes. The Stars, and every other team in the NHL would be insane to at least not ask about the cost of prying a 26-year old, all-star defensman with a $4.3 million cap hit. But that's not exactly what you're asking. For all of their improvements, the Stars are still a middle-of-the-pack defensive team. They've proven themselves offensively gifted, but also prone to the occasional slump. Shattenkirk would help there. He would also help (and I'm going to whisper this) in the event anything happened to John Klingberg.

Derek: At the risk of being unpopular, sounding crazy, or (*dodges tomatoes*)

While I do agree that Jim Nill should at least kick the tires here, because there's never any harm in a phone call between general managers, I just don't think that Shattenkirk is the type of player that Dallas needs right now.

Now, Shattenkirk is a hell of a hockey player. I think he's fantastic. But he's a right-shooting, offensive-minded defender that gets a lot of offensive zone starts and doesn't play much on the penalty kill. The Stars already have a defenseman just like this, and that's Klingberg. What the Stars need the most is someone that can handle getting buried in the defensive zone and be an anchor on the penalty kill. If Nill can somehow find a way to get both Shattenkirk and a shutdown defender then I'm all ears, but I think the team needs to focus the brunt of their tradeable assets on the latter and not the former.

2) A player of Shattenkirk's caliber won't come cheap. What would it cost the Stars, and would the price tag be worth it?

Wes: The cost, I think, depends on the Blues. They're only moving Shattenkirk if they think it wins them a Cup. To me, that means offense. The Blues are 15th in goals-for this season. If I'm the Blues, I ask for Seguin and Benn (because why not?), and once we stop laughing at my funny joke, I ask about Patrick Sharp. He can help now, and, provided Dallas eats a chunk of his salary (or takes a bad contract), is a good starting point. A 34-year old winger isn't going to be enough, though. Not by a long shot. Maybe the Blues are in love with Cody Eakin, maybe they think Val Nichushkin would look good next to fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko. It's also possible they double down on defense and grab a controlled asset like Alex Goligoski or Jason Demers. Bottom line, it's at least two roster players, and they're getting a defensive prospect of some kind.

For the Stars, the sacrifice is this season. I don't think they have the pieces to make the move and make a run. A trade for Shattenkirk is a vote of confidence they'll be able to find offense next year in a guy like Devin Shore, Nichushkin (if he stays), or in free agency. I don't know that it's worth it. Maybe if the goaltending wasn't such a mess, or if there was more obvious top-end scoring in the system. It's a gamble, that's for sure.

Derek: The biggest hurdle with acquiring a player that's the caliber of Shattenkirk is that the Blues are going to have no shortage of potential suitors that will be licking their chops for a chance to get him. Any fair offer that the Stars come up with is probably going to get surpassed by some desperate club that's willing to wildly overpay.

As you said, the Blues need scoring, but it also seems like they'd want another defender to come in and replace Shattenkirk. Let's say, hypothetically, that they pick Nichushkin and Demers as the two Dallas roster pieces going back. But, given that some team like Carolina or Edmonton is going to come in and offer up everything including the kitchen sink, I see the Stars as having to add in other assets, such as a 1st round pick or a top prospect like Esa Lindell or Julius Honka, to get the deal done. If the Stars agree on that price, could they also still afford the shutdown defender that I mentioned? Probably not.

3) If the Stars actually did get Shattenkirk, what do the Stars then do with pending free agents Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers?

Wes: It depends a little on who they have to move, I guess, but only a little. At least one has to be gone, likely both. Shattenkirk is going to get a raise in 2017, and Dallas will eventually need to sign Benn and Seguin to new deals.

Derek: Yeah, it definitely depends on the return, but this would likely be a very, very difficult choice for Dallas to make. Goligoski can play the left side and has shown good chemistry with Klingberg, so he could keep playing on the top pair, but then that's three players with fairly similar styles. And could the Stars afford him when mixing in what Shattenkirk is making? Demers is a second pair guy and shoots right, so that's a logjam on the right side on the top two pairs, but he's also arguably Dallas' best defensive player and penalty killer. Adding Shattenkirk but losing Demers would just make the Stars worse defensively as a team, and then we're right back to square one.