With health finally on their side, the St. Louis Blues could actually have options when the trade deadline approaches. Their willingness to move is yet to be determined.
Let it not be said that the St. Louis Blues are unwilling to make moves that will significantly impact their roster. Just look at how well the deal to bring in Brayden Schenn is working out.
Not all trades work out to that degree, of course. Still, just when fans thought it was least likely that the Blues do anything, Doug Armstrong pulled the trigger.
Now the question is whether it could happen again. Also, if a move was made, who would go?
There are no easy answers to either one. There are always players fans would like to see go, but dropping the contract of Jori Lehtera may have been a rare feat.
There are plenty of teams interested in adding defensive help. Minnesota proved that when they were more than happy to snap up Nate Prosser after showing little interest in the offseason. New Jersey just made a trade with Anaheim as well to add defensive depth.
So, the Blues might be in a position of power if teams come knocking for Gunnarsson or whichever defender is seen as expendable.
Toronto might actually be an intriguing destination. Gunnarsson spent several years there and knows the market. He also had all of his most productive scoring years with the Leafs.
Additionally, they have given up the most goals of any team in the top three of a division. Clearly, they need defensive aid.
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Nobody is expecting to get a king’s ransom for that kind of deal. However, a return of a good prospect or even a depth center like Tyler Bozak would be enough for the Blues.
The flip side of the argument is how much you trust the defenders coming through the system. Vince Dunn is a good player, but still a very raw NHL talent.
We also saw plenty of weaknesses in Jake Walman’s game in the preseason as well. That’s a large risk to place more on their shoulders if injuries occur down the line.
It is an odd situation to be in where you actually wonder if it would be smart to trade Gunnarsson or not. Bring that name up in the past and nobody would bat an eye.
However, this year the talk of the town has been about cohesion and chemistry. Do you risk changing that in an attempt to make this team better on paper?
I still say yes, but with more trepidation than before. It is not so much wanting to cling to Gunnarsson as opposed to worrying about the depth.
Gunnarsson had a very good start to the 2017-18 season. On one hand, you could strike while that iron is still hot and demand more from a trade. Or, you could wait and hope teams become more desperate toward the deadline. You risk them not being interested in a player that saw more of the pressbox than the ice in that instance.
Of course, the Blues could do neither. If Dunn or Robert Bortuzzo falters, they could return Gunny to the lineup and proceed as currently constructed.
The interesting part is all options are, or at leas must be, on the table. While the deal garnered him a lot of good will, Armstrong cannot rest on the laurels of the Schenn trade.
The Blues have to be exploring these sorts of options now that the trade bubble has been burst. Don’t expect any flood of deals coming our way, but teams might be more interested in hockey trades now than in recent past. Perhaps the Blues can take advantage of it.