The next couple players we’ll look at are potentially more talented, but much less likely to escape the Windy City. That’s because they’re both restricted free agents.
For the Blues to pry one of these names away, it would cost them a draft pick of some sort as compensation. That’s why you don’t see a lot of restricted free agents sign elsewhere unless the contract standoff reaches a point where a trade is reached.
Still, Alexander Nylander would be an interesting prospect for the Blues to look into. Age wise, Nylander may have passed the prospect stage, but he hasn’t had a full chance to show his worth at the NHL level yet.
Nylander showed plenty of promise for the Blackhawks in 2019-20. He scored 10 goals and 26 points in 64 games. That is not a ton of production, but not that bad for a guy that was 21 at the time. For comparison, Jordan Kyrou had 14 goals and 35 points in 55 games in his first “full” season and he is a more pure scorer.
Additionally, Nylander won’t shy away from physicality. He’s not a physical player, but he won’t avoid it either, which would fit in with the Blues.
Even if he became available, the problem with Nylander is he’s coming off an entire missed season due to a knee injury. Following the 2019-20 season, he had a torn meniscus and tried rehabbing it. Like recent Blues who have tried the same with other injuries, eventually surgery was the option and he was not brought back at the end of the season.
With a year of development lost, would Nylander be able to produce? Unknown.
What is known is that Nylander wouldn’t cost a lot. His 2021 contract paid him $863,333. There’s almost no way he could demand much more than $1 million this season and cost-controlled assets with potential might be a good look as the Blues retool.