Here is my 20 in 20 segment, where I will focus on 20 players in 20 days for the St. Louis Blues. Today will focus on the Blues’ two top young defensemen.
Alex Pietrangelo was drafted fourth overall in the 2008 draft and made an impact as soon as he joined the Blues. In his first full season with the Blues, 2010-2011, Pietrangelo collected 11 goals and 32 assists and was +18 in 79 games.
The Blues immediately recognized what they had and opened their eyes to the possibility of trading Erik Johnson. About a week before the trade deadline, the Blues made a blockbuster trade, sending Johnson, Jay McClement and a first round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart and a second round pick.
Pietrangelo then showed in this past season that he was only improving. In his sophmore season, Pietrangelo avoided the slump and put up 12 goals, 39 assists and was a +16 in 81 games. He ranked in the top five in points for defensemen and his name was considered for a possible Norris nomination. Even though he wasn’t a Norris finalist, Pietrangelo is showing serious promise and is the team’s franchise defender.
Pietrangelo led the team for average ice time per game at 24:44 (which was about three minutes more than anyone else) and proved he could play in every situation. The question that will come up this season will be what to give him when it’s time to re-sign him. With Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter getting huge contracts, it is possible that Pietrangelo gets a pretty big contract from the Blues. Hopefully a reasonable deal is worked out in the future that doesn’t hurt the Blues financially, but keeps Pietrangelo with the Blues for a long time.
Kevin Shattenkirk – As stated before, Shattenkirk was part of a huge trade that sent him to St. Louis. He was originally drafted 14th overall in 2007 with the Avalanche. He started his first full season with the Avalanche by collecting seven goals and 26 points in 46 games, but then finished his season with the Blues and finished his strong play by grabbing 17 points in 26 games.
Shattenkirk also avoided a sophmore slump by putting up 43 points in 2011-2012. Shattenkirk is a smooth skating offensive defenseman, like Pietrangelo, and has the ability to quarterback a powerplay. While he doesn’t play much of the penalty kill, he still collects a lot of time at even strength and on the powerplay. His job isn’t to be the shutdown defender, because the Blues have that in Barret Jackman, so Shattenkirk does his job extremely well.
Shattenkirk has proven that Pietrangelo isn’t the only defenseman who can put up points, and because of this, he is most likely going to receive a substantial pay raise. Shattenkirk has become overshadowed with Pietrangelo’s success, but it is hard to miss him on the ice making the team better. Shattenkirk has become the piece on the Blues’ defense that they need to remain strong.