Any time the St. Louis Blues get eliminated from the playoffs, attention immediately turns to the offseason. Talk switches to who the team can pick up in the offseason or who might be traded to where.
Normally, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of speculation. It’s healthy and usually fun.
As with everything with the current decade, that’s not really the case right now. The “speculation” is done by petulant children who will whine when they don’t get their way.
We have seen the meltdown begin when Vladimir Tarasenko was not traded prior to the expansion draft. Those same people were likely confused and upset when he was not selected by Seattle either.
I had told many people he was not going to Seattle, at least not via the draft, and the Blues were not going to just send him away for the sake of it. What do I know, though, right?
But this is not an I told you so article, though I did consider one. No, this is another chance to point out that the Blues current situation is not as cut and dry as so many want to make it.
While it’s easy to poke fun at some of the Facebook posts we all see, I have seen several people I know and respect suddenly jump on this anti-Tarasenko bandwagon. Perhaps he does not have the traits we want in a star, but the unfortunate reality is that the Blues don’t have anything available to replace him with.
Making matters worse, I was more than in favor of the team allowing Jaden Schwartz to leave because he has not lived up to his own potential. The Blues likely cannot let that happen either.
The Blues are now caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Both players seem to have intentions of getting out, or are at least exploring options. The Blues don’t have suitable replacements.
Right now, Mike Hoffman is actually the best option for St. Louis in the free agent market. Whether he wants to stay and how much he is asking for are big factors.
On top of that, he’s already been on the Blues. St. Louis can’t just swap goal totals. They need to add to what they’ve had, not just swap one in for another.
The rest of the free agent class is not anything the Blues are going to make a splash in.
Sorry, but if you think Gabriel Landeskog is worth $9 million, which has been rumored, you need your head examined. His goal totals are barely better than Schwartz and, quite frankly, Schwartz was getting paid what he deserved at just over $5 million.
Looking at the best 12 free agents, according to Sports Net, there’s nothing left.
No good replacements for the Blues
Alex Ovechkin is not leaving Washington. If he did, it would not be for a price the Blues should be paying.
Dougie Hamilton is interesting. He would bolster your defense and provide offense. However, he’s not going to come cheap because, at 28, this is probably his last, big contract. Hamilton wants to get paid and the Blues probably can’t justify a huge chunk of their salary cap being spent on three or four defenders. The Blues already have their top two right-handed defenders and trying to switch one to the opposite side has not had good results.
Zach Hyman has talent, but he hasn’t shown the ability to put up big numbers with high end talent in Toronto. His goal totals are on par with Schwartz and the point totals are far less. Why pay as much, if not more, for Hyman than you would for Schwartz for similar production?
Taylor Hall is staying in Boston. It’s not confirmed as of writing, but it’s happening. Even if it was not, he’s overpaid and underperforms for all the hype he gets.
Some will say the Blues could use Tyson Barrie. No, they couldn’t. They just got rid of that same player when they lost Vince Dunn in the expansion draft. They need defense, not another puck mover that is a turnover machine.
Blues fans would love to have David Krejci‘s production. However, as with many of these options, he’s not worth what he’ll likely get paid, especially since he’ll be 35 by the time the season starts. His point totals have been quite sporadic too.
Personally, I’d love for the Blues to sign Phillip Danault. He could, in theory, be a cheaper version of what Tyler Bozak has provided. Yet, the worry would be that New York set a dangerous precedent when they signed Barclay Goodrow to a six-year, $3.64 million AAV contract. I like Danault, but not sure the Blues need to commit for that length.
Kyle Palmieri is a name that is a perfect fit for the Blues. He plays Craig Berube‘s style and might be a slightly more consistent scorer than Schwartz. Again, how much money will he want since this is probably his last shot at a big deal? Palmieri is a swap for Schwartz, but not an upgrade.
Last, but not least, we have Ryan Suter. I’m in on Suter if he wants to take a very low deal for a chance to stick it to Minnesota. If he wants a regular type of contract, it’s a hard pass.
Then we come to SN’s other notable free agents (I cut out the goalies and most defenders). Look at this list and tell me there’s someone you are desperate to have:
Brandon Saad – eh, maybe. Goals are ok, points on the decline. How much does he want? Only an addition, not a replacement for either Schwartz or Tarasenko
Keith Yandle – too old and not big enough for the team’s needs.
Eric Staal – he’s accepted his role, but the Blues have enough bottom six players
Ryan Getzlaf – just retire with Anaheim
Tomas Tatar – Blues should kick the tires, but someone is going to overpay him
Mikael Granlund – meh. The only reason to pick him up is so he can’t score against the Blues, since it always felt like he played well against them.
Erik Haula – pass
Zach Parise – like Suter, at the right price. Still, how much scoring will he provide?
Bobby Ryan – no. He’s nowhere near the guy that scored 30-plus goals in Anaheim.
Niklas Hjalmarsson – no
Derek Stepan – if he takes a paycut from his previous contract, sure. If not, unlikely.
Paul Stastny – bringing Stastny back would not have the same results bringing David Perron back did.
Alexander Edler – for size, maybe. The points are fine, but I don’t like those turnover numbers.
Travis Zajac – no
David Savard – maybe
Jake McCabe, Tyler Bozak, Ryan Murray, Nikita Gusev, Nick Foligno, Brandon Sutter, Nick Bonino, Alec Martinez, Blake Coleman, Sean Kuraly, Barclay Goodrow, Jordan Martinook, Jordie Benn, Joe Thornton, Alexander Wennberg, Mike Reilly, Mattias Janmark, Corey Perry.
I could have kept going, but the point is that nobody on that list is replacing both Tarasenko and Schwartz. The best the Blues could do would be Hoffman and Palmieri, but that’s a wash on a good year and losing goals in an iffy year.
Schwartz is rumored to want to test free agency, which is his right, but we’ve seen this happen before and the player usually takes off. Tarasenko has not been dealt yet, but can Doug Armstrong really stand firm? He claims he will if needed, but we’ll see.
Unfortunately, the Blues don’t have internal options. Klim Kostin is not a top line player, even if he lives up to his potential.
Despite all the social media chatter about Armstrong just going out and getting someone, there isn’t anyone worth it. If you lose both players, there is not enough replacement out there.
Finding a way to keep those two and potentially add another is still the best idea, even if not the likeliest.