By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Life without Kevin Shattenkirk for the Blues begins tonight when they face the Edmonton Oilers at Scottrade Center.
In case nobody has heard or you've been living in a cave, Shattenkirk and Chicago Wolves goalie Pheonix Copley were traded to the Washington Capitals on Monday night for a package of draft picks, center Zach Sanford and AHL forward Brad Malone.
The Blues (31-25-5), who host the Oilers (33-22-8) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), are two points in front of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wildcard position in the Western Conference with a game in hand, but general manager Doug Armstrong said the trade for Shattenkirk was made so the
Shattenkirk, who is in the final year of a four-year, $17 million contract with an average annual value of $4.25 million, has been linked to trades dating back the past two seasons, but the Blues waited until the end before finally pulling the plug and deciding that it was best to try and get something in return for a significant piece instead of allowing the 28-year-old to walk as a free agent without getting a return, as they did last summer with David Backes and Troy Brouwer.
"We certainly weren't trying to trade him for two years," Armstrong said. "We've had a very competitive team here for a number of years and he's been a big part of that. I would say this thought process started at the entry draft last year.
"I had a chance to talk to Kevin and his agent (Jordan Neumann) about July 1, there was a possibility of signing him to an eight-year extension. His response at that time was he felt he needed a different challenge. With (Colton) Parayko and (Alex) Pietrangelo, I think (Shattenkirk) was hoping to get more responsibility in different areas. He felt that signing an extension at that time with this organization wasn't something that he was prepared to do."
In losing Shattenkirk, who the Blues acquired on Feb. 19, 2011 along with right wing Chris Stewart and a conditional second-round pick from the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Erik Johnson, center Jay McClement and a conditional first-round pick, the Blues lose not only an important piece on the ice but one off the ice.
Shattenkirk was a popular player in the locker room and one of four assistant captains.
Shattenkirk, who has 11 goals and 31 assists in 61 games this season, leaves the Blues with 59 goals, 199 assists in 425 regular-season games.
"It's not the part of the business that you like," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "It's tough. It's always tough to see your friends go, tough to see a player of that caliber go, but it's the business and we've got to move on. ... Any time stuff like that happens, he's going to be a friend, he's going to be a friend for a long time.
"Obviously we know the (NHL Trade Deadline) is right now and it's tough for (Shattenkirk) to go through that, but it's obviously a big relief I'm sure for him to kind of put this in the past and move on.
"He's one of the best players I've played with," Pietrangelo added. "I've got nothing but the most respect for him. ... You can just probably tell by the way I'm talking it's upsetting to lose a close friend like that. ... Him and I have grown up together as friends and as people. This is a stage and we're at a stage in our life. We've kind of gone through it together. He's always just a phone call away. You're always rooting for a guy like that. He's going to go to Washington and have success there."
Coach Mike Yeo gets to make the biggest adjustments. It puts Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo into the lineup together now.
"An important piece and a popular guy," Yeo said of Shattenkirk. "It's always emotional. It can always be a difficult time of the year, just what he brings to the group from an on-ice perspective. He's a very popular guy in the room, and so it's difficult. But that said, we're in this business and we're all pros. We've got a big match to get ready for tonight and we should be excited about that.
"For me, it happens all the time. We lost Robby (Fabbri) and we got right back to work. It happens with injuries, it happens to all teams. There's no excuses in our locker room. Again it's a good player and popular teammate, but it doesn't change our expectations. And it doesn't change our mindset, so we just get ready for the game."
As for Sanford, 22, the Blues get Washington's 2013 second-round pick. He has two goals, one assist in 26 games with the Capitals this season and is someone the Blues wanted in the trade.
"You base that on your scouting staff and what they see," Armstrong said. "They see a lot of (2016 first-round pick) Tage Thompson in him, a player we took in the first round. A big body, a point a game player as a sophomore at Boston College. So he was a one-a-game player on a very good team in college.
"... Talking to Washington on players that we wanted and having to work our way to get to that player wasn’t someone that they were hoping to move on from. I see a big player that’s multi-positional. We’re hoping to see him as a centerman, a player that can produce offense and you hope everything works out perfectly but a 6-foot-4 Zach and a 6-4/6-5 Tage Thompson down the middle for a few years wouldn’t hurt my feelings."
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Ivan Barbashev was back with the Blues and will be in the lineup tonight.
Barbashev received a small scare when he took a shot to the back of the head from Cleveland's Ryan Stanton last Wednesday during a skirmish. Barbashev was out with an upper-body injury and did not get recalled by the Blues after the bye week ended but he's OK now.
"I saw (Kenny Agostino) kind of got jumped and I just kind of tried to step in," Barbashev said. "Just maybe worried about a fight or something. The guy who fell, he thought I hit him. He stood up and punched me in the back of the head.
"It was scary. I didn't feel at first anything. I left after the first period just to be safe. ... I'm feeling great, ready to go and glad to be here."
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Blues right wing Ryan Reaves will be in the lineup tonight after missing practice Monday. Reaves was getting his foot evaluated after blocking a shot in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night but will play.
With Barbashev in tonight, Scottie Upshall along with Nail Yakupov will be healthy scratches.
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Magnus Paajarvi
Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin-Patrik Berglund-David Perron
Ivan Barbashev-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen will start in goal; Carter Hutton will be the backup.
Scottie Upshall and Nail Yakupov are healthy scratches. Robby Fabbri (knee) is out for the season.
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The Oilers' projected lineup:
Patrick Maroon-Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Jordan Eberle
Alton Slepyshev-Mark Letestu-Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks-Jujhar Khaira-Iiro Pakarinen
Darnell Nurse-Eric Gryba
Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera-Kris Russell
Cam Talbot will start in goal; Laurent Brossoit will be the backup.
Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula and Brandon Davidson are healthy scratches. Tyler Pitlick (knee) and Benoit Pouliot (shoulder) are out.