What a year the Blues are having. After starting out the season 6-7, the team has stormed back with a 23-6-7 record since Ken Hitchcock took the helm. The Blues have the lowest allowed shots per game, and the fourth best point percentage. All of these statistics are a huge improvement for the team. However, the team needs to keep working in order to stay the course for the playoffs, and needs to be active in order to have a chance at Lord Stanley's Cup.
Right now, the Blues have an average age of 27, which is 17th in the NHL. So while age is not the largest factor, playoff experience is.
Before signing Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott, the majority of Blues skaters had only played in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the Blues were swept by the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round. Adding Langenbrunner and Arnott was a huge step for the Blues, as their veteran leadership has helped the team vastly this season. However, the Blues need to do more.
Jarome Iginla is a player that the Blues should target at the deadline, and could actually pull off. Iginla is the class act of the NHL, and deserves to have a shot at the Cup at least one time before he retires. The Flames are not the team to get him there.
The Blues have the pieces that the Flames need, but it would be a hefty price. Iginla would come to the Blues if they offered Chris Stewart or Vladimir Sobotka, Ben Bishop or Jake Allen, and then some draft picks. Personally, I would welcome the trade.
Stewart is a gritty player that fits into the Blues system well, but it seems that he is not the player the Blues traded for. He is streaky and inconsistent. Sobotka is another gritty player that is strong on his feet. He is an energizer that the Flames could use after losing Iginla.
Miikka Kiprusoff is not the goalie he used to be. He is still good, but in a few years the Flames need someone who can take over. Bishop or Allen are two goalies that are going to play extremely well at the NHL level. However, the Blues will need to get rid of one of them with the depth they already have up front.
Iginla would be a great piece for the Blues to utilize. He is the pure goal scorer that the Blues have been lacking all year. Currently ranking 27th on the power play, the Blues need to score some goals, and Iginla would instantly help. He would also be able to be the goal scorer on a line with Matt D'Agostini and Patrik Berglund. This would be a combination of both grit and finesse.
The biggest upside with Iginla is the intangible experience. Iginla is respected no matter where he goes, and he would have the ability to be the undisputed locker room leader. Iginla's experience, seasonal and playoffs, would pay dividends and would push the team deep into the playoffs.
Parise is another player that the Blues could target that is a pure goal scorer. They could attract the Devils with the same offer that they could give the Flames.
Martin Brodeur is not the same goaltender that he was in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and they need someone to take his place fast. Jake Allen or Ben Bishop would fill that void. This need would allow the Blues to make an offer where they would lose less, which would make this deal more attractive than the Iginla trade.
Parise would come into the Blues system as a left winger, which is the thinnest position on the team. If Sobotka would leave, then David Perron could move down to the second line with Berglund and D'Agostini, which would also keep him at his natural position. Parise would make the David Backes and T.J. Oshie line even more lethal, possibly even the top line in the NHL.
Parise would not have the type of experience that Iginla has. Parise is a lead-by-example leader, much like David Backes is. The tandem would make the overall team play much higher, but it would be up to Langenbrunner and Arnott to carry the veteran leadership role.
Possibly the best move the Blues could make would come from the player's front. They need to get Andy McDonald and Alex Steen back into the lineup.
Andy McDonald would instantly add playoff experience to the team. He was on the Stanley Cup winning Anaheim Ducks in 2007. With all of the concussion problems McDonald has dealt with, this may be his last legitimate chance to win a Cup. That drive would make him even more dangerous on the ice.
Alex Steen was the leading scorer on the Blues before he suffered a concussion. The left winger would be put on the top line, much like Parise, and would be the goal scorer too. While he may not have the pure talent of goal scoring, he wouldn't need to learn the system like Parise or Iginla would have to. Plus, the Blues wouldn't have to give anything up to have them back in the lineup. So the best trade deadline move that the Blues could make may not be trading for anyone.
The Central Division is the best division that the NHL has seen in a long time. The Blues, much like their playing style, are grinding it out while waiting for the chance to capitalize. If the Blues make a move at the deadline, it will be for someone who will make an immediate impact and will be able to help carry the team deep into the playoffs.
Historians watch out. The Blues could have their first cup by June. At least, that's all fans can hope for.
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