The St. Louis Blues have gotten off to one of the best starts in recent team history. Even so, they have plenty of room for improvement, so why not talk trade?
One of the names bandied about during the St. Louis Blues offseason was John Tavares. Back then, most people kind of shot down the idea because of financial issues or the idea that we would be giving up too much.
However, the Blues have now gotten off to a fantastic start to the 2017-18 season. The beginning has been good enough to have us wondering if it might be worth it to go all-in on this season.
The Blues are tied on top of the Western Conference through 10 games and in sole possession of first place in the Central Division. With so much competition in the division and the conference, why not reward the team with some backup?
Over the coming weeks, we are going to hear plenty about how the Blues will eventually get healthy. That’s all well and good and something we all hope for.
Conversely, it gets to be a little tiresome to hear the tired adage that getting a player back from long-term injury is like making a trade. It is not like making a trade. It is like getting a player back you expected to be there from the start.
So, why not make an actual trade if you can? Why not get involved in the blockbuster that has almost gone by the wayside and give your team every advantage as a reward for playing so well without being at full strength.
So, why not actually explore bringing in John Tavares now?
From a purely fantasy perspective (not talking about fantasy sports) it would be amazing. Can you imagine a team with Tavares as the top center and then Paul Stastny or Brayden Schenn as your second and third line centers (in any order).
Steen, Tavares, Tarasenko
Schwartz, Schenn, Blais/Barbashev
Sobotka, Stastny, Bennett/Megan/Paajarvi
Upshall, Brodziak, Thorburn
If we thought the team had improved up the middle with just the addition of Schenn, then one more elite center would really make the Blues a difficult team to contend with.
You do not even have to automatically put Tavares on the top line. Schenn has gotten off to a great start, so maybe you leave him where he is.
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Maybe you put Tavares on the third line. His linemates would not be up to the quality he is used to, but he would immediately elevate whomever he was lined with. He would also suddenly find extra room going against second or third line defenders instead of the top ones he has become accustomed to.
So, what do the Blues give up in this scenario? That’s where it becomes a little harder.
What would the New York Islanders expect in return? Tavares is a free agent to be, so maybe they are willing to take something rather than nothing. Or maybe they want the world in return and the entire thing becomes untenable.
Those of you who have read this space long enough know it was difficult to type in that last name. I’m a huge proponent of Thompson. He has not shown it in the NHL yet, but there is just a gut feeling that he is going to be more than hype.
Losing him would be a big blow to the far off future of the team. However, the idea is you have to give up something to get something.
If we can get Tavares without giving up Thompson or one of the higher profile prospects, then by all means, that should be the route taken. You have to figure the Islanders will want something in return since their relationship with Tavares has not soured the way it did with Kyle Okposo.
So, there is reasoning behind each name. Thompson is the blue chip that you hope will seal the deal.
Berglund is the known quantity. He replaces the size and stick handling of Tavares and, when healthy, can be a decent player.
Jaskin is the potential that might benefit from a change of scenery. I hate to keep picking on the guy, but he’s 24 now and has not lived up to any of the potential that was envisioned in him for the Blues. He’s not a bad player, so maybe you convince Garth Snow that a change of scenery will bring out that next level in Jaskin.
Jaskin is also included to free up money. He clears $1 million off your books. You do lose the security of having a restricted free agent, but $1 million is #1 million.
Berglund also clears off a decent chunk. His absence would take $3.8 million off the books. $4.8 million off your NHL roster, plus the remaining LTIR relief and slim remaining cap space would be enough to get Tavares on your roster.
Then, you have added funds available in the offseason. You hope that the trio of centers mentioned is enough to take you to the promised land. If not, Stastny’s $7 million is done after this season.
Perhaps you talk him into a discount due to his age or maybe you let him walk. Bottom line is that $7 million is being offered to Tavares, who is only 27. You can offer that $3.8 plus a little extra to Stastny or you can look via free agency.
Some might say why make the trade instead of waiting until the summer so you don’t give up Thompson. Mark McGwire is the answer.
McGwire stated on a recent radio program that he would have never thought to sign with St. Louis if he had not been traded here. Coming to the Cardinals during the season gave him time to fall in love with the team and the people. So, you apply the same idea to Tavares.
He has spent his entire career in a gigantic market with media scrutiny every minute. Give him the chance to experience the city and the more laid back atmosphere for himself and you are more likely to win any free agency battle.
Losing Thompson would be the big loss in this deal. However, you still have Klim Kostin, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev and Samuel Blais in the minors. All of those names have high potential and can play multiple positions.
You hate to give up on potential, but when you can acquire a proven commodity, you do not pass it up.
The Islanders are not in a position to deal right now. They have had a decent start to the season as well. However, you do not expect teams like Washington and the Rangers to stay at the bottom of the standings.
This deal will likely never happen. That’s why it is called a pipe dream. What a sweet dream it could be though.