According to Craig Custance of ESPN, the thought of potentially joining the Toronto Maple Leafs is warming up to Kevin Shattenkirk.
The latest Toronto Maple Leafs rumor surrounding the St. Louis Blues defender is that he may be willing to go long-term in Toronto.
“Craig Custance of ESPN: Source saying the Maple Leafs are a team that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could be interested in signing a long-term deal with.” (MyNHLTradeRumors)
Of course a player would be willing to join a team to play with high end talent and a chance at winning the Stanley Cup. That’s where the Toronto Maple Leafs are right now. They don’t have to beg for players anymore, it’s the other way around now.
Here’s the problem: Shattenkirk is getting ready to start the inevitable decline that swallows most players in the NHL. Happy Birthday by the way, Kev.
You can look at Shattenkirk’s behind the scenes numbers over the last several seasons and see that, while he’s still playing at a high level, he’s not who he was two or three years ago. Gigantic new contracts often don’t reflect a player’s worth during the deal – it reflects a sum of money for what the player has done previously. That’s not good business for a team with several stars who will need to be paid handsomely very soon.
The Leafs need a defender that will be worth his long-term contract for the duration of the deal, not just the first year or two. While he’s enjoying his best point-per-game pace ever, the Leafs can’t afford to shelter him with generous zone starts like St. Louis can. The blueline just isn’t built like that in Toronto.
It’s not a question of if Shattenkirk is good, because he is, it’s a question of how long will he be good for?
Is Toronto going to give up what’s likely an insane package of players/picks for a pending free agent at the deadline? Probably not. The lure of Toronto doesn’t require extra wooing time anymore.
Are they going to hand out a massive long-term deal in the off-season for a guy like Shattenkirk? Again, probably not. He’s been a high end defender making $4.25M per season. The odds are not good that he’s going to take the same amount on a new deal. He’s likely looking for something rivaling Alex Pietrangelo’s $6.5M, at least.
It’s flattering that players are not shunning Toronto anymore, but the Leafs should take a pass on Kevin Shattenkirk if his contract demands and cost to acquire are as high as expected.