Blues GM Doug Armstrong on Shattenkirk trade, Berglund contract, “young nucleus,” Lehtera’s struggles

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong.

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong joined Martin Kilcoyne and Charlie Marlow on The Midday Grind Thursday to discuss in-depth the trading of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and the state of the Blues roster as the team pushes for a playoff spot.

Read some excerpts and listen to the full interview below:

Can you talk about why Kevin Shattenkirk didn’t want to come back to St. Louis?

“I think he wanted a bigger responsibility than we could provide him. He wanted to expand his horizons and participate in other areas of the game he didn’t do here. That was penalty killing and shutting down a game up by a goal. We had other players just ahead of him doing that. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the city or the organization. He felt to reach his potential he needed to have a bigger responsibility than what we could provide him here.”

On his comments that they wouldn’t have made the trade if the team had a good shot at winning a Stanley Cup:

“I think when you’re a top two or three team in the league…like Washington did (they have three or four unrestricted free agents and are going all in this year). We were there last year. We knew Backes and Brouwer were going to go to free agency. We still believe we’re a playoff team. Obviously losing a player like Shattenkirk…we’re going to have to fill that void. But we still think we’re going to make the playoffs…and then anything can happen. Knowing Kevin wasn’t going to sign here in the summer made it a little bit easier.”

On signing Patrick Berglund to a five-year deal:

“We’re very comfortable he can play into that part of his career. Centers are very hard to find. We just felt…if we didn’t want to lose him, we had to step up. Usually in the NHL

On the Blues’ young nucleus:

“With a Tarasenko, a Fabbri and a Schwartz, we have a nucleus we can build around. We think we can turn this corner quick and not have to go all the way down to a rebuild mode (where we’d have to pick in the top 5). Edmonton is a good example of who went through that pain. We don’t want to be picking in that top three or four in the better part of the draft for four or five yearsa.”

On Jori Lehtera’s drop in production this season:

“When we brought Lehtera over, there was some chemistry with him and Tarasenko. Our initial loko at the production he had, it was worth locking him up. And quite honestly, it seems like the production just dropped off. He still needs to go to those harder areas. We need him to get back to being at least a 40 point player.”

On his frustrations this season:

“We need more consistent play on a regular basis. And we need our best players to be our best players on a nightly basis. This is the group that’s going to be here next year if they play well…so we’re hoping they can start cutting their own path…Our peaks are high, but our valleys are way too low. This is the lowest our valleys have been (since I’ve been here).”