To Trade or Not to Trade: The St. Louis Blues First-Round Pick Conundrum

The NHL Draft will start on June 28th, with the St. Louis Blues holding the number 16 overall selection in the first round. Should the Blues seek to keep their pick or entertain trade offers?
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages

General manager Doug Armstrong has pulled off some trades in the past few years and picked up additional draft picks, notably in the 2023 draft.

Should Armstrong entertain an offer to trade this year's first-round pick?

The Pros of trading the pick

You can certainly draft a skilled player at the midpoint of the first round. Realistically, any first-round pick, especially around the sixteenth selection, is expected to become a difference-maker and maybe even earn All-Star appearances in the future.

The development, skills, and career of Robert Thomas support this argument.

But the mid-selection of the first round is not a top-five pick. Armstrong should consider this move if the St. Louis Blues were able to trade the pick for a talented player, notably on defense.

Any potential trade would have to benefit the existing roster, and it could also involve dumping a hefty contract or a player with limited production.

With three first-round picks from 2023 and the anticipated future of Jimmy Snuggerud, the Blues do have several prospects to watch out for.

The Blues have a median age of 27, making them roughly average in terms of roster age in the NHL. This signals a team built upon youth and veteran experience.

If Armstrong could pull off a trade for a skilled player with a manageable contract under the age of 28, it could be a steal.

All options should be on the table.

The Cons of trading the pick

With the futures of Snuggerud, Dalibor Dvorsky, Theo Lindstein, and Otto Stenberg unknown, adding another mid-first-round pick could be exciting and lethal for the Blues.

The keywords here are "could be." First, there is no guarantee that the four players already drafted will play in the NHL for the Blues, nor can we predict their NHL success.

Being a first-round pick comes with such expectations, but the draft is unpredictable, and players can underperform in their performance due to injuries and various other factors.

Nevertheless, the "what if" scenario matters here. The 2024 pick could be a steal and resemble Robert Thomas's All-Star play. Having even two or three of the last three years' top picks perform at a level similar to Thomas in the future would make the Blues a very dangerous team.

A trade is highly unlikely, but we can't count it out yet. Armstrong's hiring of Drew Bannister most likely reinforces the idea that he is planning for a youthful future.

The main aim should be to strive for progress, specifically in the upcoming few years. Armstrong holds the key to accomplishing this, as his abilities will ultimately determine the outcome.