It is no secret that the St. Louis Blues tried to move Kevin Shattenkirk at the Draft last weekend. In fact, they have been trying to move Shattenkirk for a while but haven’t found a suitor that will pay a fair (read: extremely high) price for the 27 year old puck-moving defenseman. Even his agent thinks a trade involving the star defenseman is inevitable. Shattenkirk, who has one year left on his contract that carries a $4.25M cap hit, is set to become an unrestricted free agent upon expiration of his current deal and is expected to fetch top dollar on the free agent market.
One thing that complicates a trade is the fact Shattenkirk didn’t play his best hockey this year. His even strength offensive numbers were down, had a negative 5v5 GF%, and didn’t drive the team’s shot attempts numbers as much as he’s done in previous years. There is no way to sugar coat his production or his negative goal differential but his strong shot attempt numbers combined with low on-ice SH% (6.61%) and PDO (98.2%) point towards a rebound next season (one could also argue his 102.7 PDO in an injury-shortened 2014-2015 season was unsustainable and he was bound to have a regression this year anyways). On average, defensemen don’t peak until around 29 and their play doesn’t fall off as fast as forwards but Shattenkirk may not be as good as he once was.
There is so much uncertainty that comes with a player having success on a very successful team changing teams. Was his play a product of his environment in St. Louis or was St. Louis’ success a product of his play? Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Shattenkirk’s “off season” is still very good and would be a valuable addition to any team’s blue line but compared to the standards he set for himself earlier in his career, his play hasn’t been as dominant. The several million dollar question NHL GMs are asking themselves is did Kevin Shattenkirk just have a bad season this past year or has he peaked? If it is the latter, teams will have to be very mindful of trading young players or high draft picks to St. Louis for a depreciating asset that they may only get three to four strong years out of.
The graph above shows Shattenkirk’s HERO chart for the past three seasons. Past performances are weighted so the previous year holds 44.4% of the chart’s weight, followed by 33.3% for two years prior and 22.2% for three years prior. One can see the progression Shattenkirk made from a highly ranked top four defenseman in 2014 to a top pairing defenseman in 2015 and then regressing slightly this past year but still ranked as a top pairing defenseman. As Shattenkirk had such a strong 2014-2015 season, his HERO chart for 2015-2016 didn’t suffer that much but expect it to dip significantly if he struggles again this season.
Looking at Shattenkirk’s 5v5 production metrics per 60 minutes of ice time, his assists, primary assists and points metrics declined this season at a steep rate. Only his G/60 rate was able to slightly increase and was equal to that of his A/60 rate. Shattenkirk fell from being ranked in the top 20 defensemen for 5v5 production in 2014-2015 to a bottom 20 ranking in the league this past season. In total, Shattenkirk registered just ten 5v5 points this season in 72 games.
While his 5v5 production rates fell, his equaled his point total from the previous season (44) and was just one point shy of his career high, set in 2013-2014. This was attainable because of his production on the league’s sixth best power play in which he was second in the league in P/60 at 7.90, well above any previous mark in his career. His 26 power play points set a career high for him.
When a team is considering trading for him, it is important not to rely on his power play production as even though his power play production has been consistent. Over the past four seasons, St. Louis has had the fourth best power play in the league, scoring on over 20.6% of all power play opportunities. If the team Shattenkirk gets traded to has a weaker power play, one should expect him to produce less on the man advantage.
Moving towards goal statistics, the above graph shows Shattenkirk’s GF/60 and GA/60 ratios over his career on the primary axis and the resulting GF% on the secondary axis. He’s been a positive goal percentage player his entire career but found himself in an unfamiliar territory this past season where he recorded a career low 1.93 GF/60 and 2.23 GA/60, the second highest mark in his career resulting in a 46.3% GF%. In addition, he was a negative goal percentage relative to his teammates (-9.8% GF%Rel) for the first time in his career, second worst in the league only ahead of Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall (mininum 1000+ TOI). This was a rather large fall off for Shattenkirk will need to rebound this season or may face a demotion in the lineup.
Finally we’ll take a look at Shattenkirk’s shot attempt statistics. Unlike his goal statistics, Shattenkirk was a positive impact to St. Louis this past season, but his CF/60 hasn’t been as high as previous years. Similarly, his CA/60 hasn’t been s low as it has been in previous years. Shattenkirk’s CF%Rel is seen in yellow on top of the CF/60 & CA/60 bars. Note how Shattenkirk posted a career low in CF%Rel by over 2% which makes sense as his CF and CA marks weren’t as strong as previous years.
When dissecting why Shattenkirk’s play fell off this past season, there are a number of different possibilities. The first is that he was given a larger role that he was unable to handle. In Shattenkirk’s first four seasons, he averaged between 15:33 and 15:50 5v5 minutes per game. In 2014-2015, that average jumped up to 16:18 and again increased in 2015-2016 to 16:25. It is possible that the increase in ice time could have affected his GA/60 rating but doesn’t make sense why his 5v5 production fell off the map. Another possibility is that Shattenkirk faced tougher competition in a larger role. This test also fails as his opposition’s GF/60 was the lowest that he’s faced in his career, his opposition’s GF% was tied for the lowest in his career, and his opposition’s CF% was tied for the lowest in his career. A third and final possibility is that he played with a weaker defensive partner. Shattenkirk had no consistent partner last year shown by another defenseman is his eighth highest most common teammate (excluding goaltenders) and on his HockeyViz diagram. He struggled alongside Jay Bouwmeester but succeeded with Colton Parayko as his partner in almost identical TOI (239). This doesn’t seem like enough to dramatically impact his statistics.
No one is certain how Shattenkirk’s 2016-2017 season will play out, whether he gets traded this summer or starts the season in St. Louis. While his numbers were down, he is still a very good defenseman and can have a positive impact to any team in the league. In fact, Shattenkirk may bounce back this season and put up career numbers but this will be something for GMs to consider when they’re looking to acquire Shattenkirk and sign him to a long-term deal.
Follow Steve Ness on Twitter: @QuickkNess