The 2021 St. Louis Blues will definitely have a different look. If rumors can be believed, it might be astoundingly different.
When the St. Louis Blues were eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks, we all knew the next time they hit the ice, the team would have a vastly different look. There were any number of changes that could be on tap.
In total, whenever the 2020-21 (or just 2021) season begins, the Blues might not have one or a mixture of Alex Pietrangelo, Vince Dunn, Jake Allen, Tyler Bozak or Alex Steen. That’s a lot of experience that could be missing, but there is still a good, young core beyond it.
Now, on the same day the Blues found out they will be missing their star forward, Vladimir Tarasenko, to start the year, a disturbing rumor hit the presses. The Blues might actually be entertaining the idea of trading Colton Parayko.
The rumor, posted by NHLTradeRumors, is that the Blues would part with Parayko to send him to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He would be the only piece departing St. Louis and the Blues would get Andreas Johnsson, defensive prospect Timothy Liljegren and the Maple Leafs’ 15th overall pick.
Firstly, it should be noted that this rumor has to be taken with a grain of salt. NHLTradeRumors will post just about anything that hits the wire, whether there’s an actual fire behind it or just the faintest wisp of smoke.
They don’t really make up stories. There is always some factual basis behind it, but a lot of their rumors don’t pan out.
However, we have to consider the possibility it might be true. Doug Armstrong is not afraid to make bold moves, but that would be a bombshell that would make the Justin Faulk trade look average, in terms of coming out of nowhere.
What the Blues would get
Andreas Johnsson basically embodies too much of what the Blues already have. He has potential, but is getting paid a little too highly based on production.
Johnsson played for three seasons with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, scoring 44, 47 and 54 points. That translated into the NHL well in his first full season, scoring 20 goals and 43 points.
He only managed eight goals and 21 points in 43 games in 2019-20. He sustained a knee injury.
Johnsson is not small, but he’s not big. 5’10, 181 lbs would likely be labeled as shifty in hockey terms.
The Blues have players already in that mold. Jaden Schwartz is a player that basically earns his keep through pure effort, because we know he’s capable of scoring 30 goals, but he has yet to do it.
Also a detraction, Johnsson has a cap hit of $3.4 million. That would create space, since Parayko makes $5.5, but retaining Pietrangelo would still require other moves.
Liljegren is a highly touted offensive defensemen, but the Blues already have those too. Whether Faulk leaves to Seattle as some suggest or plays out his contract, he’s an offensive guy.
Dunn is offense first. The early scouting reports suggest Scott Perunovich is offense first and his defense still needs improving.
Do the Blues really need another one of those types of defenders? The game is definitely moving in that direction, but when the Blues play a style that Craig Berube wants, they can’t have all their blue liners recklessly jumping up on offense without a care.
Liljegren would help even out the lefty/righty situation. The rest is questionable at this point.
The more intriguing piece would be the draft pick. 15 is not insanely high, but you can still get value there.
Tarasenko and Schwartz were drafted at 16th and 15th in their draft class. You can find talent in that range.
The Blues are supposed to have their own 2020 first round pick as well. Having two picks can’t hurt, but you never know when those might pan out.
What the Blues lose
The 2020 playoffs did expose Parayko a bit. That is not to say he is suddenly a bad defender (we don’t know if he was one of the covid-positive players. That might have affected his energy), but he did seem exposed without Jay Bouwmeester to clean up his spilled milk.
The pairing of Parayko and Marco Scandella was used much more sparingly and when it was together it did not have the same potency as the regular season.
But, there were other players that had poor playoff performances. That does not mean they should be given up on.
Parayko is already a top-tier defenseman and still has not hit his ceiling. He can improve offensively, if he ever becomes comfortable with his shot.
He has a rare combination of reach, size, speed, strength and mobility. Most guys his size would be tree trunks, but he can skate faster than some forwards.
Parayko’s main downfall is his personality, in terms of being in a rough game. He’s the epitome of a nice guy. If he could just develop a fraction of the snarl that Chris Pronger had to his game, the league would be in trouble.
I just don’t see it happening. The Blues and Maple Leafs would benefit on paper, but the Blues just don’t get enough.
Johnsson and Liljegren are not bad players, but the Blues already have players in their mold who frustrate fans as it is. Do they really need to add more?
It would be too much of a flyer on Johnsson. You don’t have enough body of work to know whether the 20 goals is normal, higher than what you can normally expect or not even the ceiling.
If you boil it all away, you’re trading a player that you hope might be your top right-handed defenseman someday for a second or third line forward and another offensive defenseman for a team that wants to play tough defense. The pick is the only thing that makes the trade even remotely interesting.
I would not say this deal is impossible though. Armstrong might see it as an avenue to keep Toronto out of the Pietrangelo sweepstakes, but that’s a gamble with a big chip.
Parayko is not untouchable. He would almost surely be added to the list of players that went on to greater things with other teams though.