The St. Louis Blues are in win-now mode and figure to be buyers at the trade deadline. However, St. Louis shouldn’t be so quick to make players available.
The St. Louis Blues are virtually locked into a playoff spot after an impressive first half of play. However, with the Blues’ glaring need for defense, the cost for the top-tier defensemen in the league will come at a high price, so Doug Armstrong needs to be selective about who is dealt.
The untouchables on the St. Louis Blues roster are the players with the big salaries. Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Torey Krug, the list goes on. There is some conversation to be had about which young players the Blues should make available to different teams.
Notice how Vladimir Tarasenko was not included on that list. Without knowing whether or not Tarasenko still wants out of St. Louis, Armstrong should consider moving the long-time St. Louis staple.
Tarasenko’s value will never be higher than it is today, and every day he is a member of the Blues, his value goes down because it is one less day a team will have his services before he hits free agency.
Now, Tarasenko has been one of the main reasons why the Blues sit comfortably in the Western Conference, and the Blues would benefit offensively from keeping him around. However, if it means landing a long-term fix on the blue line, then St. Louis should entertain the idea of trading him.
Younger players like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas should also be left untouched in the event of a trade, as they seem to be cornerstones of the franchise for the next handful of seasons in St. Louis.
In reality, in order to land a player like Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes or Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens, it will take a top prospect like Scott Perunovich or Jake Neighbors in order to get the job done.
Armstrong, however, has an epic reputation for getting deals done that do not require big-name prospects. Remember when he traded for O’Reilly for Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, and Tage Thompson?
There are only a handful of top four defensemen on the trade market. You might be able to throw Mark Giordano‘s name in the mix, but hopefully, the Blues target Chiarot and Chychrun.
If the Blues had to give up Perunovich or Neighbors in a trade, the debate on which one St. Louis should give up is intriguing and would likely depend on the incoming defenseman’s caliber of play.
If St. Louis were to acquire Chychrun, then the Blues should feel a lot more comfortable moving on from Perunovich. Chychrun has the best team-friendly contract on the market as he is making $4.6 million for the next three years.
Adding him to the mix would give the Blues five defensemen who are under contract for the next two years, joining Krug, Justin Faulk, Colton Payrako, and Marco Scandella. Adding Chychrun to the mix not only makes the Blues elite on the blue line, but it also creates a log jam and makes it difficult for Perunovich to find playing time in the top-4.
St. Louis could pivot and go the rental route and trade for a player like Chiarot or Giordano. If this is the case, under no circumstances should the Blues give up Perunovich or Neighbors for a rental. Both players are vital to the Blues’ future and should not be wasted on a one-year gamble.
However, if the Blues are going to need another franchise to maintain a portion of a player’s salary, a top prospect might be needed to sweeten the pot. The Blues have just $63,000 in cap space and no players listed on injured reserve.
Every Blues fan should know to trust the ability of Armstrong when it comes to building a Stanley Cup-winning franchise. So if your favorite player is dealt at the deadline, make sure you give it time before you start burning jerseys.