The St. Louis Blues had a plethora of options going into the summer of 2023, at least in the minds of most fans, including myself. However, one of the options that almost none of us predicted is what has come to pass.
That means it’s going to be a rather uneventful summer for Blues fans. Kick your feet up, enjoy your vacations and sign out of social media because you’re not likely to miss anything.
Going into the 2023 offseason, most Blues fans believed it would be rather eventful. The Blues had nine draft picks to entice teams with and a little bit of cap space to make some improvements to their roster.
Then, things fell apart rather quickly. It was nobody’s fault, but it was interesting how quickly thing shifted.
It began with the failed trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. While we have no official confirmation, and never will, we all know that it was almost certainly Torey Krug that nixed that deal. He had every right to, but it could create some odd situations going into 2023-24.
There were arguments on both sides about the value of the trade from the Blues perspective. However, the reality of it was the Blues would have acquired a player capable of being a top-pair left-handed defender in Travis Sanheim.
Sanheim would have come at a minor discount compared to Krug, but even if you call the money a wash, it worked in the Blues favor. On top of that, you would have acquired Kevin Hayes for only half his cap hit and filled a center role, which you are dangerously thin at.
The Hayes trade worked out anyway, giving up a late-round pick and still getting him for half the cost. Losing out on a top-pair defender stings though. We can argue how good a player Sanheim is, but he’s more a fit for the top pair than Krug and I say that as someone who likes Krug.
When that trade fell apart, it set off the domino effect. Teams knew exactly what the Blues were after and knew they could ask for more than what the Flyers had asked for.
When the season ended and the draft lottery took place, I and many others said there was absolutely no way the Blues use all nine draft picks. Nobody expected that potential trade to come forth and its subsequent demise changed it all.
The Blues turned around and used all three first-round draft picks. While there is reason to be excited about all three prospects, they’re all a couple seasons away, or more.
The anticipation was for the Blues to use the 10th pick and trade the other two. Doug Armstrong was asked about it and simply said no trade of value seemed to present itself.
You can take that to mean nobody called. I take it to mean Armstrong wanted to deal those picks for NHL talent and nobody was willing to give fair value.
So, we circle back and ask what that all means for the rest of the summer. It basically means the Blues are done.
The defense we have is the defense we’re going to get to start the year. Unless a forward prospect like Zachary Bolduc or Zach Dean has an unbelievable training camp, the group of forwards the Blues ended the ear with, plus Hayes, is what we’re getting in 2023-24.
It’s disappointing, but not disheartening. There was more fight in the team toward the end of the year and the defense should not be as bad as they were.
Perhaps something strange will happen. Nobody expected the trade that brought Justin Faulk, especially with the season just days away. Maybe Armstrong pulls another rabbit out of his hat to avoid any kind of Krug blow back.
Unfortunately, I would not count on that. It’s going to be a lot of crickets as far as the Blues are concerned because the money is not there for free agents and trades are going to be hard to come by.