To say the St. Louis Blues have failed to meet expectations this season is an understatement.
Coming off a season in which they finally found some playoff success, making it all the way to the Western Conference Final, the Blues had what looked to be a Stanley Cup-contending team heading into the 2016-17 season.
However, it’s 46 games in and the Blues are barely holding down a playoff spot, tied in the wild card race, just one point from falling out of the playoff picture altogether, and most recently had to leave their struggling No. 1 goaltender Jake Allen at home during a road trip to get a “total reset”.
On top of all that, head coach Ken Hitchcock, who has already announced his plans to retire from the Blues’ organization in the offseason, appears to be on the hot seat and could be forced into early retirement by general manager Doug Armstrong and company.
On Saturday’s Headlines segment, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Kelly Hrudey, and Elliotte Friedman broke down the Blues’ issues and what may need to happen in order to fix them.
“My understanding is before they go down that path [firing Hitchcock], Doug Armstrong would like to make a change in the roster,” Kypreos said.
“The one thing I have been told about the Blues is that Doug Armstrong is trying to move money to open up some space to do something,” Friedman said.
Kevin Shattenkirk, a dominant offensive defenceman and pending unrestricted free agent carrying an affordable $4.3-million cap hit, is the most logical piece for the Blues to look to move before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
“We do know Shattenkirk, one of his better defencemen, will be an unrestricted free agent. We do know that they kept [David] Backes last year and lost him for nothing,” Kypreos said. “It does not sounds like they want to go down that path again, so they’ve got the next few weeks to look at Shattenkirk as an option of getting some significant pieces back, rather than lose him for nothing.”
As for a potential trade partner, Friedman hinted at the Tampa Bay Lightning being a good fit for the Blues: “Shattenkirk for Ben Bishop, anyone? Two teams that could help [each other out].”