(Written January 3rd, 2016) Drouin to the Blues?: The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a rocky first half of the season, especially after a Stanley Cup Final appearance last summer. The Lightning have a record of 19-16-4 and are currently outside of the playoff picture. Due to where the reigning Eastern Conference Champions sit in the standings, their top prospect is unhappy, and their franchise superstar is in the last year of his contract, rumors are swirling about what Tampa will do next.
Multiple reports have said the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning have both been scouting eachother frequently this season. Immediately, some fans might think it must be Stamkos to the Blues since that’s arguably their biggest need, an elite first line center. However, I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Stamkos is in the final year of his contract and will be a UFA this offseason. The Blues have to re-sign Schwartz, Parayko, Fabbri, Allen, and Shattenkirk sometime over the next 3 years. Not to mention their captain, David Backes is also in the last year of his contract as well. Of course, if a deal were to happen for Stamkos, it would include multiple of those names I just listed plus more picks or prospects within the orginization. Personally, that wouldn’t be in the team’s best interests, especially when he’s likely to get $10+ million in the open market. But if you want to keep your Stamkos to St. Louis hopes alive, just a few years ago Tampa traded traded their captain Martin St. Louis to New York for their captain Ryan Callahan.
It was recently reported that former #3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Jonathan Drouin has requested a trade. Drouin was just called down to the AHL and was a healthy scratch for today’s game. Drouin hasn’t produced as much as he’s expected to so far in his short NHL career. In 19 games this season, Drouin has 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points and is +1. For his career he has 89 games played, 6 goals, 34 assists, 40 points, and is a +4. Those stats won’t amaze you but they also aren’t bad for a 2nd year player in a reduced role on a contending team. Drouin is still projected to be a top 6 winger in the NHL and Blues have a few young players of their own that could use a change of scenery. Players such as Rattie and Jaskin have both struggled at times in the NHL. Some of that is due to their role that they played and not getting enough ice time to produce. It would be interesting if Tampa Bay would take a one for one swap for one of those players. A deal is very possible but nothing is imminent at this time. Drouin to the Blues wouldn’t be a horrible idea in my opinion; put it this way, would you rather have Paajarvi or Drouin playing on a line with Stastny and Tarasenko? If you want to look at the big picture, a future Fabbri-Drouin line would also be deadly for opposing defenses.
(Written January 7th, 2016) FOLLOW-UP: The Blues and Lightning are currently engaged in trade talks. Per multiple reports, including Elliotte Friedman’s report, the Blues are one of multiple teams with interest in 20 year old Jonathan Drouin. Tampa is reportedly looking for a right handed defenseman or a young forward near or ready for the NHL. Drouin, 20, is in the 2nd year of his 3 year entry level contract. In his last two years of juniors in with the Halifax Moosheads and in 95GP, Drouin had 70G, 143A, and 213P.
Now the question is, where does Drouin fit with the Blues? Specifically, what would the trade look like to bring him here. Tampa is looking for one of two types of players; a right handed defenseman (Parayko, Pietrangelo, Bortuzzo, Shattenkirk, Schmaltz, and Vannelli.). OR a young forward with top 6 potential near or NHL ready (Jaskin, Rattie, Paajarvi, Fabbri.). Fabbri and hopefully Parayko are untouchable. For the rest, I’m simply categorizing them by being a RHD or a young, potential top 6 forward. Obviously some of the bigger names would add more than just Drouin to a trade. In my opinion, Jaskin is an ineresting name here. He’s struggling early on in his career in the NHL and also has elite stats from his last year of junior hockey. It may not be straight up or it very well could be but I think some sort of Jaskin-Drouin swap would make sense for both teams AND players as both arguably could benefit from a change of scenery. I think acquiring Drouin would help the Blues both this year and deffinitly in the future. To a degree, Drouin kind of reminds me of Fabbri; both are excellent skaters, have fast, soft hands, and capable of highlight reel plays. The main difference to me is instead of being a shoot-first sniper such as Fabbri, Drouin is more of a pass-first playmaker. Also, he is one inch taller (5’11) and ten pounds heavier (190). Not to mention he plays left wing and potentially putting him on a line with a sniper such as Tarasenko or Fabbri. Teams interested in Drouin, including the Blues, are waiting to see if he is 100% healthy this weekend before making the deal.
(Written February 17th, 2016) Possible Lightning players on the Blues radar: Trade talks between the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning are still going strong. Both teams have been frequently scouting each other since early January. Although, now that Tampa Bay’s electric young forward, Jonathan Drouin has been sent down to the AHL, it’s obvious the Blues are scouting the Lightning’s roster talent.
There are multiple routes you can take to pinpoint a certain player or two that fit what the Blues need for hopefully, a deep playoff run. However, I’m going to breakdown three of those routes. First let’s take a trip down the “injury” route. No doubt the Blues have been attacked by the injury bug this season but are finally starting to get healthy, minus a few players. The three injured Blues include RHD Alex Pietrangelo, F Steve Ott, and G Jake Allen who is expected to be back relatively soon. I’m going to focus on a few of Tampa’s defenseman that may be on the Blues’ radar. I’ll start with the reliable 6’5 LHD Braydon Coburn. He’s having a good defensive year with 63BS, 85H, 13TA, and is a +3. He does have a $4.5 million cap hit and a modified NTC but is a UFA at the end of the season. Andrej Sustr is another interesting name. He’s a 25 year old RHD and is 6’8. Sustr also only makes $1.3 million this season, making it an attractive contract for the Blues. I’d love to see Stralman wearing the Note but I don’t see that big of a name coming back our way. Also, just say NO to Matt Carle.
Next, let’s take a stroll down the “change of scenery” route. Not many Lightning players fit in this category, therefore I’m going to expand my limitations for who needs a change of scenery. Obviously Jonathan Drouin has requested a change of scenery to the public so I’ll start with him. Drouin has an extreme amount of potential. Perineal All-Star potential. He hasn’t quite found his ways while playing with Tampa, ultimately resulting in his agent telling him to request a trade. (As he also did with Derick Brassard) The Blues have been linked to Drouin since early January and for the most of that time have been considered the leading contenders in the Drouin sweepstakes. Ryan Callahan believe it or not, has only produced 18 points this season. Though Callahan has had his offensive struggles this season, he’s putting up very impressive defensive numbers such as 53BS, 133H, and 28TA. Those are numbers that become very important during playoff hockey, especially in the Western Conference. Although he does have a $5.8 million cap hit and is signed until 2019-20 (age 34 season), the Blues have had interest in him dating back to his New York Ranger days.
To end us off, let’s finish with the “others that make sense” route. The Blues main struggle right now is scoring goals. Tampa doesn’t have many players blowing up that stat sheet either, however. Two guys are under performing to a degree and I’m not sure if they’d be interested in even having one of these players in trade discussions. That player is Ondrej Palat. While he’s only 24 years old still, Palat’s cap hit is $3.2 million. He’s been a bit injured this season therefore, it has dropped his production. Palat has 6G and 16P in 36GP this season. He plays well in all three zones and plays on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Palat recorded 16G, 47A, 63P in 75GP last season. Again, I’m not sure how open Tampa is for adding him to any discussion but you’d have to think he’s one player on the Blues radar.
The NHL Trade Deadline is in just two weeks and with the Blues in playoff contention yet again, look for them to try to improve their team in some shape or form; whether it’s trading with Tampa Bay or another NHL team, don’t bet on the Blues staying completely quiet at the deadline.
Thank you for reading and let me know your comments on my story or thoughts on potential stories you’d be interested in by following and tweeting me @The_STG. Let’s go Blues.