The St. Louis Blues might play the entire season with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk rather than trading him before he becomes a free agent, general manager Doug Armstrong said Friday.
"I think if you're always trying to trade players as they enter the last year of their contracts, I don't know that you're ever going to have a really good team if you're running away from free agency," Armstrong told NHL Network in remarks transcribed by CSN New England. "Free agency is part of our game, and you make those free agent decisions."
After Shattenkirk was not traded during the NHL Draft last weekend, agent Jordan Neumann told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a trade was inevitable and that Shattenkirk wanted it to happen "sooner rather than later."
Armstrong said Friday he is content playing the entire season with Shattenkirk and would try to re-sign him.
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"I think the Kevin Shattenkirk thing grew on a life of its own at the draft," Armstrong said. "What I've said internally here is that we're excited to have Kevin Shattenkirk as a part of our team. In the NHL now, you see all the players hitting free agency and moving to [different] teams.
"Our goal is to try and get Kevin signed if we can, or start the year …. we started last year with Troy Brouwer and David Backes in the same situation, we had 107 or 108 points and made it to the [Western Conference Final]."
Backes and Brouwer left the Blues on Friday; Backes signed with the Boston Bruins and Brouwer with the Calgary Flames.
"If you get to a part of the year and you have guys that are unrestricted and your team is no good, then you make those decisions," Armstrong said. "But if you have a good team and you have guys that are unrestricted, you just play it out."