The NHL trade deadline is approaching, with only about a month and a half until teams have to finalize their rosters for the playoff push. Of course, St. Louis Blues fans, like all hockey fans, are dreaming up ways to improve the team.
The problem with this is that, more often than not, fans don’t look beyond this season. It’s not their money, so they don’t care about the cap implications. They only see the potential for a Stanley Cup right here and now, unwittingly sacrificing the chance to win a year or two down the road due to their ideal trade.
That’s where Jordan Kyrou comes into the mix. Kyrou just won the fastest skater competition at the NHL Skills Competition in Las Vegas.
The funny thing is, if some fans had their way, Kyrou would no longer be on the Blues or may never have suited up for St. Louis. This idea seems crazy now, but there were plenty of fan-made trades that included Kyrou just a couple seasons ago.
The idea then was that Kyrou hadn’t made it in the league yet, so he likely wouldn’t. There are examples of players that make it right away and some that don’t become a star for quite some time after they are drafted.
That’s what makes some of the fan trades you see on social media a bit laughable and potentially dangerous for the team if they were to happen. The bottom line is that we don’t know what some of these guys might become and to give it up for a short-term could be disasterous.
If the Blues had done what some (definitely not all) wanted back then, they wouldn’t have the dynamic player they have now. Their offense would be missing 17 goals and 49 points at the All-Star break.
There is a discussion to be had about whether Kyrou is legitimately the fastest skater in the league, but the bottom line is he’s in the discussion. The Blues would not have one of the fastest skaters in the league on their roster if the team only had short-term goals in mind. In a league that thrives on speed, St. Louis would still be lacking behind.
Another issue with that line of thinking is that the need always changes. When Kyrou would have been part of the bait, the need was goal scoring.
Doug Armstrong knew the player he had and now the Blues have scoring with Kyrou and a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko. Instead of dealing a prospect then, Armstrong waited, made a much more shrewd move to acquire Pavel Buchnevich and St. Louis is set for awhile.
Turn the page and suddenly the team’s “problem” is defense. The solution, according to some, is to include Scott Perunovich in a deal for a proven top four defender.
I ask why? I fully understand most of the answers I would receive.
My colleague, Jason Martin, put together a piece discussing who might be included in certain deals and why. His logic makes sense, but I still disagree from an overall perspective.
I feel like trading Perunovich now would be equivalent to trading Kyrou back then. Maybe Perunovich doesn’t pan out, but there just seems to be too much potential there for me to buy in.
For all we know, Perunovich might be the next Cale Makar. Naysayers will say he already would have proven he could do that if it was going to happen, but not everyone develops at the same pace.
You point to Makar hitting the ground running and becoming a superstar right away. I point to Hall of Fame defender Chris Pronger who had not done a ton in Hartford, struggled after getting traded to St. Louis, dealt with the boos of fans and went on to become one of the best defenders of all time.
That is not to say I believe Perunovich will become that great. It is merely to say that not everyone is on the same timeline.
If nothing else, the team’s history has not been kind to getting rid of players just to make a short-term deal. Rod Brind’Amour, Doug Gilmour and Geoff Courtnall, among others, were all examples of players the Blues gave up on earlier than they should have to make a deal in the moment. In hindsight, many times, the Blues would have been better off keeping those guys.
I understand it’s a thin line that general managers must walk. You don’t want to give up on players too soon, but you don’t want to hoard your own prospects like the St. Louis Cardinals have recently, constantly figuring they’ll break out eventually.
I don’t envy Armstrong. He has tough decisions to make because the Blues could use an upgrade on the blue line. We can argue about whether it has to be top pairing or not, but adding a true defender would help.
The question is still when and how and I don’t agree that it has to be now and has to be via some blockbuster deal. Trading Perunovich, along with the salary dump it would take to afford a top-four defender, is going to affect your team.
You mess with team chemistry by potentially losing one or more NHL players. You also lose future flexibility.
If Perunovich becomes the player you hope, he comes cheaper and gives you the option to trade a player like Torey Krug if you could get someone to bite on that. If he’s gone, you’re stuck with Krug (not necessarily a bad thing) as well as the likely big contract of the player you acquired.
It’s not wrong to speculate and have fun with it. More often that not, the trades fans come up with in their minds are short sighted though.
We want the Stanley Cup now – tomorrow be damned. I feel like the Kyrou situation proved that, sometimes, making a deal in the moment takes away your ability to win in the future.
I don’t specifically remember a certain player Kyrou would have gone out for, but I know it was not anyone that would be worth giving up on the next few years of a Robert Thomas/Kyrou combination.
The same is true of Perunovich, for me. If the Blues are to include him in a trade package, it better be for someone who is can’t miss and will be around a good, long while.
If not, that’s a risk I don’t think is worth the taking.