ST. LOUIS – According to several sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Blues defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk is said to have vetoed a 7-year, $42 million deal.
The 28-year-old pending free agent, it is reported, was likely to have been involved in a trade with an Eastern Conference franchise, speculated to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. The deal would have sent Shattenkirk to Tampa in exchange for a high-value return, however, it is unclear which asset(s) St. Louis would have acquired in the deal.
The Blues and GM Doug Armstrong have been working to move their highly sought-after point producing d-man for some time. Shattenkirk turned down a contract that would have sent him to the Edmonton Oilers last summer (June 2016).
For St. Louis, the goal is to acquire a higher-value return ahead of the March 1 NHL trade deadline, but in order to do so, Shattenkirk would need to agree to an extension with another franchise. Shopping the defensemen as a “rental” or allowing him to enter free agency at the end of the season would yield a less profitable situation for the St. Louis Blues.
Shattenkirk has produced 42 points (11 G, 31 A) in 60 games this season for St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS – The Cardinals will kick off their 2017 spring schedule on Saturday with an exhibition against the Miami Marlins from Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL.
First pitch is slated for 12:05 pm local time (TV: FS-MW, Radio: KMOX 1120).
Pitching prospect Luke Weaver, who posted a 1-4, 5.70 ERA showing in 9 games for St. Louis a year ago, has been tabbed the starter.
Weaver will be one of several young pitchers trying to impress his club to open up the spring docket. John Gant and Austin Gomber are also expected to make appearances on the bump for the Cardinals in Saturday’s opener.
Gant went 1-4 with a 4.86 ERA as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2016, his first season in the majors. Gant was one of three prospects acquired by the Cardinals in a trade with the Braves for LHP Jaime Garcia.
Gomber, a 2014 fourth round pick by St. Louis, has spent three years in the Cardinals’ farm system. He began 2016 in Springfield AA.
ST. LOUIS – After missing the past 4 games with a lower-body injury, the Blues will welcome veteran center Paul Stastny back into the lineup tonight against the Florida Panthers (7pm, NHLN, FS-MW).
Stastny, who suffered the injury in a game on February 9 against Toronto, is expected to re-join fellow line mates Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen on the Blues’ top line.
“I feel comfortable, mentally and physically,” Stastny told John Kelly of Fox Sports Midwest. “Excited to be back and get that game in before the break.”
Despite winning 3 of 4 games in his absence, the Blues have missed their first line center in the face-off dot, where Stastny is 6th in the NHL this season (55.6%) on draws.
In his 54 games played this season, Stastny has posted 35 points (15 G, 20 A).
ST. LOUIS – After the Buffalo Sabres dealt the Blues their first loss in two weeks, St. Louis will look to get back in the win column as they face off against Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers at Scottrade Center Monday (7pm, NHLN, FS-MW).
The Panthers (27-20-10) are coming off a victory over the Los Angeles Kings on February 18. Florida is currently perfect on their road trip (4-0-0), which will conclude in Monday night’s tilt against the Blues. Florida has 64 points and remain very much in the race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting just a point out of the second wild card.
The Blues (31-23-5) are coming off just their second loss since Mike Yeo took over as head coach on February 1. St. Louis is currently 6-2-0 in their past 8 games, and come into Monday holding the third place position in the Central Division. St. Louis trails second place Chicago by 10 points.
Vincent Trocheck leads the Panthers in points (41) and goals (20) this season, and has at least a point in 5 straight games.
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored the opening goal against Buffalo on February 18, has 28 goals and assists this season for the Blues (56 points), and has 4 points (3 G, 1 A) in the last 5 games overall.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Blues and Panthers this season (April 6).
Both teams have been good on the penalty kill so far in 2016-2017. The Panthers are ranked third in the NHL (85.0%), with the Blues just behind them, ranked fourth (84.6%).
ST. LOUIS – It was a disappointing year for Kolten Wong last season in St. Louis, especially on offense. The organization knows it, and Wong knows it.
In 121 games played, Wong’s .240 BA, 7 SB, 23 RBI and 75 H were all the lowest totals since he broke into the league in 2013. His 313 official AB were down from 557 in 2015, and Wong was forced to spend time in Memphis for much of 2016, re-gathering his swing and suring up much of the inconsistency in his play. He never did find the traction he was looking for.
The Cardinals missed the postseason in 2016 for the first time since 2010 in part because of their defensive woes, and it was no surprise that the organization entered the offseason last October, and now spring training, with a clear focus on athleticism and defensive depth. Kolten Wong figures to add into that equation in a large capacity this year as an everyday staple in the lineup at second base. He committed 8 errors last season at the position.
Even with less at bats, Wong had a .327 OBP a season ago in St. Louis, his best in 4 years. Along with new addition Dexter Fowler, and returning members such as Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals expect to improve their on-base numbers this year. Wong will play a role in helping the team achieve that goal.
Now 26 years of age, Wong signed a 5-year contract extension worth $25.5 million last year, with a club option in 2021. There is clear indication that the organization feels Wong is a key factor to the team’s success moving forward. It will be up to Wong to make that happen, and it will start in this year’s campaign.