The St. Louis Blues are not having the season they were supposed to. They were supposed to be at the top of the division and contend for the President’s Trophy. But instead, thanks to the outstanding play of Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blues are barely holding on to a playoff spot. However, the Blues are shaking up the lineup.
The first move the team made was on Saturday, when the Blues traded a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick for Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold. Leopold has been in the league for 11 years and adds valued experience to a team that doesn’t have too much. Being a top-four defenseman, Leopold also adds depth to an already stacked defense. Leopold is scheduled to play with Kevin Shattenkirk, but could move up to the first line with Alex Pietrangelo in a few games.
Next, Doug Armstrong stunned Blues fans Monday night when he announced the Blues traded for Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames (per The Associated Press). Bouwmeester averages nearly 25 minutes in ice time while also being another top-four forward. He has a hefty contract that the Blues must pay, but the Blues have the most cap space of any team in the NHL, so the money isn’t an issue.
With these signings, the Blues are going to be sellers at the deadline.
Since the Blues added two defensemen, they now have nine NHL-level defensemen. There is no way the team can keep that many defensemen on the roster, especially with three goalies also on the roster. The Blues are going to have to trade someone, and it could be enough to push the team into the thick of the playoffs.
The Blues will most likely be trading Ian Cole or Kris Russell on defense. Wade Redden signing a one-year deal could also be a target, but would be just a loaner to a team. All three of these point to trying to grab draft picks, possibly to the 2013 draft, where the Blues are thin on picks. However, there could be an even smarter deal for the Blues to grab.
If Jaroslav Halak is not injured for an extended period of time, the Blues are going to have to trade Brian Elliott. Add Cole, Russell or Redden into a package, and add a forward, say Patrik Berglund or Vladimir Sobotka, and the Blues could give a team an entire rebuilding package.
The Blues need to market this package for someone who can score and immediately make an impact. The Blues have had flashes of brilliance in the offensive zone, but not nearly enough to be consistent. The Blues are a team that has not been producing anywhere near expectations and are in need of something to get the team going.
Trading Berglund, Cole and Elliott may just be the answer, if the team gets the right forward to have an immediate impact. If these players go for draft picks, such a player could open the Blues’ window for a cup a little longer.
Overall, the Blues placed themselves in a great position at the deadline. The Blues traded for both Leopold and Bouwmeester without trading any roster players and now have the power to give a team a package that could warrant a big draft-pick return or another big-name player. The Blues need to be sellers at the deadline and could still contend for the Stanley Cup this year. It’s a pretty good spot to be in for a team that has been vastly underachieving in this shortened season.