The St. Louis Blues need some help this offseason. They are going to need not only the help of players, but teams willing to aid them too. Both will be very difficult as we are already learning.
The St. Louis Blues have to add something this offseason. We can debate for months whether that is via a trade for a bigger name or trying to add a veteran piece via free agency or simply letting the kids have their turn.
There is no set answer right now because, as a little green guy once said, “difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” Truer words may have never been spoken.
The reality is the Blues do need an upgrade up the middle. Paul Stastny is still a great player, but at this stage, barring some miracle return to his Colorado form, he’s a second line center.
He has not developed the kind of chemistry with Vladimir Tarasenko any of us had hoped. So that compounds the problem since he’s the most capable of playing first line minutes but probably should not be.
There were very vague rumors (mostly fan hopes) of the Blues going after John Tavares. That was always going to be difficult, but now it seems borderline-impossible.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility. Tavares is currently earning $6 million with a cap hit of $5.5 million.
If the Blues lose the right people to Las Vegas and include the right pieces in a trade, that would be more than doable. The problem is Tavares is in the final year of his contract.
He’s not looking for a modest raise according to many reports. There are some suggesting he could be seeking, or the Islanders could be willing to almost double his salary.
More is being made of that number right now than there should be because some media outlets take a little snippet and run with it.
Whether Tavares re-signs with the Islanders or not is not the main issue. Even if he does not re-sign with them, trading for him might prove to be a rental situation if he is actually seeking anywhere near that sort of money.
Let’s play the game for a moment. Best case scenario, Las Vegas takes Jori Lehtera off our hands. I don’t think that will happen, but just for the sake of argument let’s say it does.
That clears $4.7 million off the ledger. That would give you an estimated $9.1 million in cap space.
You have to re-sign Colton Parayko though, so cut that in half and you have about $4.55 million in space. Take away about $1 million because you need wiggle room for injuries and bringing up AHL players, etc.
Now, you are down to $3.5 million in space. That means you have to trade someone like Jaden Schwartz just to get the figure back to around $9 million.
You now don’t have the funds to give Robby Fabbri an extension without other guys leaving. You could assume that David Perron might be gone once his contract is up after 2017-18, but you’re still working right up against the cap.
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The trade is not impossible. Signing Tavares would not be impossible. It is highly unlikely though, if the Blues were ever actually even pondering it.
Doug Armstrong, despite what fans want to believe, has done a fairly good job with this team. He hasn’t signed high profile talent or made the gigantic trades, but that’s all video game stuff at this point.
Most teams are not doing that and the fact that some can get higher profile supplemental talent, like Chicago, is a testament to their resolve. The Blues are not built to spend money upon money, so they have to be a little more prudent.
That said, Armstrong seems unwilling to make the big deals after getting burned by the Ryan Miller trade. This one would be a huge one, but it would take a lot of his skills to accomplish.
First, you have to convince the Islanders they are getting enough. We all love Schwartz, but would he be enough alone?
Can the Blues afford his salary cap hit? We don’t know what kind of money he’s actually seeking, but even having three players at Tarasenko type money might be hard for the Blues.
If Tavares is actually going to command anything north of $8 million, I don’t think the Blues can do it and keep enough talent surrounding these guys. If you can get him for a “reasonable” price, then you have to explore it.
I’ve had arguments with people that say it would be a mistake to give up on someone like Schwartz or Fabbri. Firstly, Fabbri would only be a chip because his salary doesn’t make the deal happen for St. Louis. Secondly, you still do the deal.
Yes, the Blues have been burned in the past but you cannot live by that alone. Tavares still fills a huge need.
He’s never scored fewer than 60 points in any season other than the lockout and his rookie year. Schwartz, for all his talents, has been up and down with injury and only crossed 60 points once.
Personally, I don’t want either to leave. Fabbri has a bright future and Schwartz is just entering the prime of his career.
Neither is a center though and the Blues are flushed with wingers. If you could fleece a deal sending some pieces away that aren’t that integral, simply because the Islanders would need to get something, that’d be great.
That makes the salary portion even harder though.
Some might say send Stastny the other way. A fair thought, but then you’re expecting someone like Ivan Barbashev to immediately become a second line center from the AHL. Not exactly grooming him slowly, is it?
In the end, I don’t see this deal happening. Not because it would not be beneficial to the Blues, but there are so many moving parts and these days it seems like you don’t get those kinds of trades any more.
If Tavares really wants to be a $10 million player, more power to him. Teams in contention likely won’t be able to afford that and enough players to keep winning long-term.
It would be a monumental day if he joined the Blues. Just don’t expect it to happen, because this dream is not even going to get started.