Draft is king
One of the reasons Blues fans are somewhat hoping the team doesn’t make the playoffs is because the 2023 NHL Draft is projected to be rather deep. So, theoretically, you should be able to pick up a quality player, even in the late stages of the first round and even after.
That’s all well and good when it comes to draft picks you already have. When it comes to trade assets, it becomes a hinderance.
The reality is that teams are less likely to be willing to part with first-round draft picks this season. If that is true, why bother making a trade at all?
St. Louis is not going to trade two, or more, of their star players for nothing. Pending free agent or not, you’re setting the bar too low if you’re accepting second or third round draft picks for guys who are still capable of putting up 30 goals or 40-plus assists.
Knowing this, maybe Armstrong is shrewd enough to swing some prospects that are much closer to NHL ready than any draft pick would be. St. Louis is not getting Connor Bedard, so any draft pick would be a couple years away from seeing time in the NHL after all.
Even then, it’s not a simple thing. The team accepting your player needs to see value and the Blues have been bad enough this season that everyone’s trade value is down to nohting, except perhaps Jordan Kyrou and Jordan Binnington (neither of whom are going anywhere).
So, what can you get in return? Nobody makes hockey trades that often any longer, so the general return is a younger player or prospect and draft picks.
Draft picks won’t be easy to come by if teams think they can get as good a player for their future as they might for a now. It’s not going to be easy to pick up first rounders for sure.