Figure out the defense
So, this resolution is more on Doug Armstrong and Craig Berube, but it may actually be the most important one to the team. Much like the decisions made by Army at the past few trade deadlines, the team needs to figure out if they must make a trade or stand as they are and none of that has anything to do with Vladimir Tarasenko.
Going into the season, most people said the Blues weakness was going to be their defense. To start the year, that was definitely true.
The Blues play with heart, but they are undersized in the grand scheme of it. The vast majority of their blue liners would be considered offensive defensemen too.
When the season began, of the six defenders the team started with, only Robert Bortuzzo would be considered a defensive defenseman. Justin Faulk has really upped his game, Colton Parayko still shows flashes and Marco Scandella is a tweener, but those names are still puck movers more than actual nasty defenders that the league’s top forwards don’t want to go against.
The interesting thing is, despite all the injuries and growing list of names in protocol, the Blues have actually settled in defensively quite well. They’re still not a team that can bully you around and get guys clear of the net, but they are sound positionally and tenacious on the puck.
Armstrong and Berube have to decide if that’s enough. Can you win with a defensive style that requires all five guys to be responsible or does the team need to go out and acquire a shutdown defender?
Niko Mikkola has stepped up and formed a nice pairing with Parayko. You don’t really want to stifle his growth bringing in a new player and sending him back to the press box.
Scott Perunovich has not looked lost in the NHL at all. He makes rookie mistakes, but he has helped the power play stay near the top of the league with his eagle-eye passing. Does he stay in the league or get demoted back to the AHL when everyone is healthy and/or a trade was made?
There’s definitely interesting names out there. Jason Martin discussed picking up Jakob Chychrun.
Even in rebuilding mode, Chychrun is going to cost a lot more to pry out of Arizona. Chiarot might be easier to acquire given the transition in management in Montreal, but he’s also 30, which is not old but factors into the decision.
The Blues have a log jam on the blue line. If they want to seriously be contenders in 2022, they need to decide if they want to let their own guys grow and handle the pressure or if they need to add something.
A month ago, I would have said add. Now, I’m not as sure since the chemistry seems right at the moment.
Part of the team’s resolutions has to be to figure that out.