Top 5 Landing Spots for St. Louis Blues Defenseman Vince Dunn
After three promising seasons, Vince Dunn was expected to become a key member of the St. Louis Blues' defense corps. Instead, the 24-year-old blueliner has become the subject of trade speculation.
TSN's Frank Seravalli reported on Jan. 26 that the Blues had held trade conversations regarding Dunn. Later that evening, he was a healthy scratch against the Vegas Golden Knights after being singled out by Blues coach Craig Berube for his shaky performance against the Los Angeles Kings earlier in the week.
On the same day, The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford reported the Blues could seek a first-round pick or an NHL player of equal talent in return. Given the Blues' limited salary-cap space, he felt a high draft pick seemed likely. Rutherford also speculated they might accept a second-round pick as they don't have one in the 2021 draft.
Dunn has shown some improvement since his benching with three points in his last five games. A skilled puck-moving defenseman with a left-hand shot, the 6'0", 203-pounder has the size and offensive attributes that could prove attractive to clubs seeking a mobile left-side blueliner. He also carries an affordable one-year, $1.875 million contract.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong may be looking into Dunn's value in the trade market, but he doesn't seem to be in a rush to move him. Nevertheless, there could be clubs willing to make a deal.
Here's a look at five possible landing spots.
The Boston Bruins lost defenseman Torey Krug to free agency in October when he signed a seven-year deal with the Blues. They've adjusted to his absence thus far but could benefit from bringing in Dunn as a potential replacement.
The departure took away a key source of offense from the Bruins' blue line. They're making do with Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, Jakub Zboril and Matt Grzelcyk as their left-side rearguards. None of them, however, put up offensive numbers comparable to Dunn's production over the last three seasons.
Boston Hockey Now's Joe Haggerty has speculated about whether the Bruins should consider pursuing the 24-year-old. In his Jan. 30 column, he cited Dunn's offensive numbers, skating and puck-moving skill, suggesting he could be ready for bigger and better things as he approaches his playing prime.
With a projected $3.6 million in salary-cap space, the Bruins could take on Dunn's salary, but it would still be a tight fit. Rather than part with a second-round pick, they could prefer the Blues take a salaried NHL player in return. Haggerty suggested winger Anders Bjork, who's signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $1.6 million.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have been rebuilding for several years but haven't seen much improvement thus far this season. With three wins and eight points in 13 games, they're near the bottom of the overall standings.
A lack of skilled young defensemen is part of the problem. Filip Hronek, 23, is their best mobile blueliner. Others are past-their-prime veterans like Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser or depth rearguards such as Christian Djoos, Patrik Nemeth and Troy Stecher. DeKeyser and Staal are the only Wings defenders to score a goal thus far this season.
The Wings have no one with offensive skills on the left side of their defense corps. Dunn could address that need on their first- or second-defense pairing. He could provide a boost to a power-play percentage (10.0) that sits 29th overall.
Wings general manager Steve Yzerman probably wouldn't part with a first-round pick for Dunn. However, he has three second-round picks in this year's draft that he could use as trade bait. With $8.2 million in projected cap space, the Wings could easily absorb Dunn's salary this season.
Los Angeles Kings
With their Stanley Cup glory years well in the past, the Los Angeles Kings are in the midst of rebuilding their roster with young talent. Dunn could fit into their long-term plans.
The Kings could use Dunn's offensive skills on their blue line. Olli Maatta is their most experienced left-side defenseman. He won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his production is inconsistent. Depth blueliner Kurtis MacDermid plays a more physical defensive style, while rookie Mikey Anderson has limited NHL playing time.
Dunn would bring three seasons of NHL experience (including a Stanley Cup championship in 2019) into the Kings lineup. He could skate on the first pairing alongside Drew Doughty or bring additional depth to their second-pairing.
The Kings have the cap room ($9.4 million) to take on Dunn's contract. It's doubtful general manager Rob Blake would part with his 2021 first-round pick to get him, though he could afford to give up one of his two second-round selections.
With just two wins in their first 13 games, the rebuilding Ottawa Senators are off to a struggling start this season. Landing a skilled defenseman like Dunn could provide a welcome boost to their blue-line depth.
Scoring is an issue for the Senators thus far. Their goals-for per game (2.23) is the league's third-lowest. Thomas Chabot is their only puck-moving defenseman who can be regularly relied upon to provide offense from the blue line.
Dunn could help address the Senators' need for more production from their defense corps, especially for a club with a power-play percentage (14.3) ranked 23rd overall. He could be a good fit as a left-side defenseman on their second pairing, or they could try him on the right side.
Senators general manager Pierre Dorion could be reluctant to part with a first-round pick in this year's draft. However, they have two picks in the second round of each of the next two drafts. Their $9.35 million in salary-cap space would also make it easy for them to absorb Dunn's current contract.
The Winnipeg Jets had one of the NHL's deepest defense corps until last season. The departures of Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot significantly weakened their blue line, especially on the left side.
Josh Morrissey is their top left-side defenseman with depth blueliner Derek Forbort and rookie Logan Stanley filling the remaining spots. Dunn would be an obvious fit behind Morrissey on the second-defense pairing. His offensive skills would be useful, especially on their second power-play unit.
With $84.1 million invested in their roster, the Jets are well above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, center Bryan Little is out for the season on long-term injury reserve, providing the Jets with $2.8 million in wiggle room to add another player.
Dunn's contract would fit into the Jets' LTIR cap room. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could offer up his second-round pick but might prefer dangling a little-used player such as defenseman Sami Niku.