Grading the 2011-12 Blues
The Grading the 2011-12 Blues series resumes today after some time off. Today we cover our second defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk. How well did Shattenkirk play in his first full season with the St. Louis Blues? Was he able to avoid the infamous sophomore slump?
Previous Grading the Blues Articles
Prior to 2011-12
Shattenkirk joined the Blues during the 2010-11 season in a deal that sent Erik Johnson out to Colorado. Prior to arriving in St. Louis, Shattenkirk posted 26 points in 46 games with the Avalance. Upon arriving, he continued his impressive form with 17 points in 26 games.
Shattenkirk was fantastic in his rookie season. He drew plenty of comparisons to Alex Pietrangelo in the way he handled pressure and played with poise well beyond his years. However, it was unclear if Shattenkirk would be able to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
Shattenkirk quickly dismissed any notion that a sophomore slump might derail his 2011-12 season. He picked up right where he left off at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season by being a threatening offensive weapon from the point while being a reliable defenseman.
The end result of 2011-12 was a season that was nearly identical to his rookie campaign. He tallied 43 points in his rookie year and followed it up with 43 points in his second year. He was a power play threat while giving the Blues an impressive 1-2 punch from the defense by skating on the second while Pietrangelo patrolled the top line.
Final numbers: 9 goals, 34 assists (43 points) with a +20.
Regular season grade: A-
Summarized: Shattenkirk met the lofty expectations he created for himself following his impressive run of play upon arriving in St. Louis. He matched his impressive point total from his rookie season and grew into a formidable defender. What Shattenkirk lacked in size and experience he made up for with pure intelligence. He played like a player with numerous years under his belt, giving the Blues two of the top young defenseman in the NHL.
Kevin Shattenkirk was not at his best during the playoffs. This sentiment is shared across the entire St. Louis roster but it was perhaps most evident by the defending, or lack of defending, we saw from the Blues in their series against the Kings.
Shattenkirk wasn’t terrible in the playoffs but he also wasn’t special. Pietrangelo’s absence forced Shattenkirk and his teammates to step up. Unfortunately, we all know how well this went.
Final numbers: 1 goal and 1 assist with a (-3) rating. (9 games).
Playoff grade: C
Summarized: A “C” is an average grade. When looking at the full playoff picture, Shattenkirk was mostly average. He made some good plays but unfortunately these positives were cancelled out by poor positioning or by leaving an LA forward unmarked.
Game 1 against the Kings was a night to forget for Shattenkirk as we was on the ice for each of LA’s three goals.
The 2012-13 season is the final year of Shattenkirk’s current 3-year, $2.625 million contract. This entry level contract pays Shattenkirk a relatively small sum of $875,000 a year though he does have the option of picking up an additional $400,000-$450,000 in performance bonuses.
Shattenkirk will be due a hefty raise when his contract expires. He has proven that he can be a big offensive threat from the defense and has proven that he has hockey sense that greatly exceeds his years.
Look for Shattenkirk to have a similar role in 2012-13 as he had in 2011-12. The Blues enjoy spreading their offensive wealth at the defense across multiple lines. Pietrangelo mans one pairing, Shattenkirk on another.