St. Louis Blues: On draft day eve, I wish for...

'Twas the night before draft day, when the St. Louis Blues

Have a very important decision of which they must choose

The top-end talent of defensemen was there

For Doug Armstrong and Alex Steen to choose from with care

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong at the 2023 NHL Draft
St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong at the 2023 NHL Draft / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages

The St. Louis Blues have a potentially franchise-altering decision to make tomorrow, on the night of June 28th.

GM Doug Armstrong and his new assistant Alex Steen have a difficult decision to make in the first round, especially given the depth of prospects at that range and the current state of the St. Louis Blues system.

The issue is evident: the St. Louis Blues need a defenseman

The awkward positioning in this year's draft puts them in a spot that is not favorable to draft a defenseman who would significantly change the team's future outlook.

That list is reserved for 4-6 players, depending who you ask, all of which will almost definitely be selected before the Blues make their choice. You can find my expanded thoughts on all six with the most recent episode of the Note News podcast for more information.

This is why my wish is that Doug Armstrong, Alex Steen, and the St. Louis Blues trade up in the first round and select defenseman Sam Dickinson.

Who is Sam Dickinson, and is he worth a wish?

Dickinson is a young 18-year old player for the London Knights in the OHL. He measures in at 6'3" and 203lbs, giving him great size for his age at an early June birthday.

Dickinson is truly a do-it-all defenseman with an incredibly polished game that shines even playing against much older and larger opponents in the OHL. He put up 70 points in 68 games and a plus/minus of 56, which was the second highest plus/minus in the entire OHL last season.

In his team's championship run, he tallied 13 points in 18 games and served as a top pair player alongside Philadelphia Flyers prospect Oliver Bonk. The star-studded pair, along with other talented players such as projected top-15 talent this year Berkly Catton, made the Knights an OHL wagon that ran through their league. Dickinson played a critical role in helping achieve this success.

How the St. Louis Blues could acquire Sam Dickinson

Drafting a player of this caliber would take not only some luck of the board falling a certain way, but also the willingness to give up capital to trade into the top-10 picks.

Some potential trade partners GM Doug Armstrong and assistant Alex Steen could target and likely will phone about include: Montreal (#5), Utah (#6), Ottawa (#7), Seattle (#8), and Calgary (#9). The teams after these five could also be potential partners, but it is very unlikely Dickinson falls that far.

All five of these teams are teams who disappointed last year based on their expectations, and are looking to compete sooner rather than draft and develop prospects that are years out. The same could be said for the St. Louis Blues, but the glaring lack of a star defenseman in the system makes a move like this more likely for the Blues.

The haul it would take to acquire one of these picks, however, would be very steep and probably painful for many Blues fans.

The cost of a trade-up: Pavel Buchnevich, a goaltender, or a haul of picks

In addition to this year's first round pick, a likely piece that could complete the trade would be moving star winger Pavel Buchnevich.

Pavel Buchnevich
St. Louis Blues forward Pavel Buchnevich / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

This would certainly upset many Blues fans and understandably so, but here's why the move could make sense.

Buchnevich has been a center piece of trade talks for the St. Louis Blues dating all the way back to this year's trade deadline. In addition to the massive interest from many NHL franchises that would pay a king's ransom for the Russian skater, Buchnevich's contract situation further complicates this discussion.

Pavel Buchnevich is entering the final year of his deal with the St. Louis Blues, meaning in order to get any value from him now, the team must either extend him or trade him this offseason or at next year's deadline. Doing the latter now instead of at the deadline guarantees a greater return due to the added months of team control.

Buchnevich is 29 and is probably seeking one more large NHL contract to finish out his career. Wingers of his caliber and age generally sign for around $8-10 million per year, and Buchnevich would be wise to sign a 4+ year deal, given his age.

This would put Buchnevich as the team's highest paid player for the next half-decade. A move like this, while enticing because of his recent play, could severely backfire and blow up in the face of the St. Louis Blues front office, hamstringing them and closing their competitive window before it begins.

Another trade option to acquire these picks could be moving either goaltender, Jordan Binnington or Joel Hofer. Hofer is much cheaper and has more team control, making him more enticing to potential suitors as well as the Blues; Binnington has proven more at the NHL level but his contract is much higher that what Hofer is making on an entry-level deal.

Moving a goaltender feels more unlikely, as Ottawa just acquired Linus Ullmark and many of these teams may have questions at goalie but also do have promising prospects to fill the position. It is not impossible that Binnington or Hofer are the price of a trade-up, but it is probably unlikely.

The last option would be to only trade picks and prospects to move up. However, with a move of the magnitude I am proposing, the return would be so absurd for the other team that it is almost impossible to see this happening.

Doug Armstrong has repeatedly made comments on how he loves using more picks than less, and to move from 16 to a top-10 slot would take multiple second, third, fourth, and maybe even fifth round picks to get the job done. It is implausible to think of Armstrong proposing this move, let alone another team bargaining to get the job done.

But for a player of Dickinson's caliber, there is little I wouldn't do to acquire his talents. It is almost certainly wistful thinking, but I would love if somehow the St. Louis Blues found a way to draft Sam Dickinson tomorrow night.