In case you missed it, the St. Louis Blues traded Ville Husso (technically his signing rights) to the Detroit Red Wings. St. Louis received the 73rd overall pick, a third-round pick, in the exchange.
The reaction online has been fairly understanding. As with anything, you’ll get the hotheads that think they know better and complain about the return.
The issue St. Louis had was this was the epitome of a something is better than nothing situation. Husso was gone, so getting a draft pick was a better option than just waving goodbye on July 13.
One of the problems the Blues had was a blessing and a curse. While Husso saved their bacon in the 2021-22 season, bailing them out countless times and taking over for a shaken Jordan Binnington, they knew Husso was getting cartoon dollar signs in his eyes with every big save and every win.
The hope going into 2021-22 was that Husso would perform admirably as a backup, the Blues could sign him to a minor bridge deal and then make a better evaluation in a year or two. Binnington’s brief fall, before a resurgence in the playoffs, led to Husso’s rise, which led to our current scenario.
St. Louis was between a rock and a hard place. Despite his good playoff run, prior to the injury, Binnington did not have the kind of season where the Blues could have considered offloading his $6 million contract and got fair value.
There was also no way they were going to convince Husso a bridge deal was in his best interest. Sure, you could try to sell him on the idea of a small deal now and maybe get Binnington money after, but he’s at that age where you need to start getting paid.
According to CapFriendly, the Red Wings have signed Husso to a three-year contract that will give him a cap hit of $4.75 million per season. That’s a great total for Husso.
St. Louis simply could not have paid it. Those who read about the Blues cap situation understood this.
To recap it, the Blues should expect to pay David Perron around $4 million since he’s coming off his highest goal total in a Blues uniform. With around $9 million to spend cut almost in half by Perron, and needing to re-sign Nikko Mikkola and Scott Perunovich, there just wasn’t going to be enough money in the pot for that kind of deal.
Most fans knew this. That’s why the reaction has been fairly subdued.
Most of the “uproar” was about the return. Husso was worth more than a third-round pick, in a vacuum.
Nothing happens in a vacuum though. The only reason Detroit gave up the pick at all was to get the jump on Edmonton, maybe Toronto and a small handful of other teams. They could have rolled the dice in free agency and gave up a pick that might mean nothing just to be able to talk actual dollars with Husso prior to free agency.
They weren’t going to throw in a second pick, as some suggested, because they had no need. They knew the Blues were not in a position of power.
If you want to talk in a vacuum, Husso probably should’ve fetched a prospect or low-level player. He’s got great upside and, other than a slightly poor run in the playoffs, got better as 2022 went along.
We sometimes forget that Husso was actually the next man up on the Blues depth chart in 2019. If Husso was healthy when the Blues had their goaltending disaster, he might have been the one to get the start in Philadelphia on that fateful January day. Instead, Binnington was the man and now the Blues are hoping he will be the man.
There were still a handful of people wondering why the Blues didn’t trade Binnington instead. That’s a multi-faceted issue.
Number one, Binnington is better than he played in 2021-22. He’s proven himself as an NHL starter and, in non-Covid years, has shown himself to be a stellar playoff performer.
You don’t usually just give up on proven quantities, though it is becoming more common, i.e. Pittsburgh, Colorado and Vegas.
Secondly, if Binnington is as bad as some make him out, what team would be dumb enough to take on a $6 million contract?
The money is all relative. Binnington seems like he’s not worth $6 million in this moment, but he was when the deal was signed. That was the market value for a Cup winning goaltender.
Husso’s $4.75 might seem like a steal, but he might implode. We easily forget how down people were on him in 2020-21 when he had a save percentage of .893.
Jake Allen was a decent value when he was paid around the same as Husso, but he split the fan base as much as any goalie. More than any other position, a goalie’s contract is scrutinized because fans change their opinion on a goalie like the wind changes direction.
The bottom line is that the third-round pick is fair. We’d all like the Blues to have done more, but they simply couldn’t.
They had no leverage and did the best with their options. I am absolutely not rooting against Husso, but best case scenario is he is an mediocre goaltender in Detroit and Aleksanteri Kaskimaki turns into a star.
We won’t know any of that for years. In this moment, the Blues made the best out of a poor situation.
If Husso goes on to become a great, that will stink. However, the timing has often never been right for the Blues and goalies, so we carry on that tradition.