With next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline looming, the time has come yet again for the St. Louis Blues to decide what, if anything, they want to do.
The Blues enter tonight six points out of eighth place in the Western Conference as they play a Phoenix Coyotes team in the exact same place.
So what should the Blues do by next Wednesday and, more importantly, what will they do?
There are two schools of thought when discussing the Blues and their future.
The first is that the team has been extremely competitive despite losing key players like Erik Johnson, Paul Kariya, and Eric Brewer for the season. Others, like Andy McDonald, just recently returned from an extended absence due to injury.
Why not hold on to what we have and see if they can finish this playoff push? If nothing else, let them play together for a full season next year.
The other thought is to move some of the players to teams that can use them for a playoff push and stockpile draft picks, while continuing the Blues' youth movement that has been in effect for the last few years.
Rumors have been circulating for the better part of a month that the team may look to move Keith Tkachuk for the right price.
However, Tkachuk—who is in the last year of his contract—has a no trade clause that he would have to waive before any deal could be finalized. It was only two years ago that Tkachuk was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers in a deadline deal.
While that deal did give the Blues draft picks—eventually leading to rookie sensation Patrick Berglund—Tkachuk has been very vocal over the last few years that he’s in no rush to leave to another team, nor wants to uproot his family, who are all very happy living in the St. Louis area.
Despite what many considered to be a sub-par 2007-08 season for Tkachuk, he has put together a very good 2008-09 season to date (18 goals, 17 assists). He has been a veteran leader for the younger players in the locker room, and the Blues owe it to him to keep him if that is his wish.
Tkachuk made a sacrifice already when he accepted the Atlanta trade in '07. The young kids on this team need a veteran to get advice from and there aren’t many people better than Tkachuk from whom to get advice.
As of now, the 2009 NHL draft doesn’t appear to be a very deep draft—certainly not in possession of a huge star like the last few years have. Recent drafts have produced the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Eric Johnson, and Steven Stamkos.
That’s not to say that there aren’t quality players available, or that there won’t be an amazing player to come out of that draft.
The fact of the matter is that the majority of No. 1 draft picks don’t immediately make an impact on NHL rosters (see Alex Pietrangelo).
The Blues, quite honestly, should stay put. This season has been rough, and most Blues fans see where the team is at and think, “What if? What if we had been healthy?”
Justifiably so—this team is good. They are young and inexperienced, but good.
John Davidson and the front office need to be open to offers, but prudent in their decision making.
If there is a great trade to be made, then go for it. Otherwise, keep what you have.
This season is far from over, and this team is built for years to come with a strong core including Oshie, Berglund, Perron, Johnson, (in the near future) Eller, and Pietrangelo.
Kariya, McDonald, and Tkachuk are good mentors—mentors that could prove invaluable not only this offseason, but also next season.