ST. LOUIS — When players are scouted for the NHL, their overall package of speed, skill, size, strength and personality tends to get them pushed toward a certain box.
As a somewhat small (6-foot) but strong (207 pounds) offensive defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues has done his best to break the stereotype.
"What I was surprised with when he came here was his compete level," Shaw said. "He's not a big guy and he's an offensive guy, and sometimes those guys aren't real competitive on loose pucks and things like that.
"By the start of the next year he was on our penalty kill because he did battle on so many loose pucks. Once it's on his stick, he's got the ability to get it down the ice."
While coach Ken Hitchcock's top teams in Dallas and Philadelphia were extremely solid defensively, they also included offensively gifted defensemen like Sergei Zubov in Dallas and the Flyers' Joni Pitkanen.
"When Hitch came in here, everyone said you're going to have to change your game drastically and be this defensive defenseman," Shattenkirk said. "That's not the case at all. He wants us to take care of our responsibilities in the D-zone and between me and Alex (Pietrangelo), he knows what we have to offer on the offensive end."
It wasn't that long ago that the Blues had a huge gap in the offensive-defenseman department. It existed almost from the day they decided to trade former NHL Most Valuable Player and Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger to the Edmonton Oilers and was a gap they thought they filled by drafting Erik Johnson first overall in 2006.
Instead, the Blues shipped Johnson and veteran forward Jay McClement to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2011 deal that brought Shattenkirk and forward Chris Stewart to St. Louis.
"This is my seventh year here and we always commented that we wanted some puck-movers on the back end," Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw said. "It just never seemed to materialize with Erik Johnson, who we thought would really be that guy for us.
"Petro's really developed into one of the top defensemen in the league and puck-moving's one of his best assets. For Shatty, the same sort of description applies."