The NHL’s 1st place St. Louis Blues have already overachieved on just about everyone’s radar to start the season. With injuries to their first pairing left handed defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester, and forward Patrik Berglund, the Blues still managed to dominate other teams. The defense has done more than expected with the absence of Bouwmeester, and rank 1st in the entire NHL in goals from defenseman. The play of rookie Vince Dunn has gave the Blues another dynamic on the blue line. In fact, Dunn has played so well, that he has punched his ticket into the lineup for the rest of the season, in my opinion. This is where things get interesting. The Blues currently have 8 defenseman on their NHL roster and have a couple of defenseman in the AHL that are more than capable of stepping in and playing in the NHL if the injury bug were to hit. This likely means the Blues will need to trade a defenseman away in order to break the logjam and clear some much needed cap space for arguably the biggest problem with this team: the lack of depth goalscoring. Yes, getting your second highest goal scorer from a year ago back into the lineup will help to a degree, however, it’s safe to say the expectations for this team has increased. Jaskin, Paajarvi, Blais, Sundqvist, Bennett, and Barbashev have all shared time on this line. This group of players have just 6 goals in a combined 82 games played this season. Yes, Jaskin has stepped up as of late and has been playing better and better, and Sammy Blais continues to improve his game at this level, but the Notes must make a move to truly round out what could be, a Stanley Cup caliber roster. A few names that I would take a look at are listed below:
Evander Kane: With 12 goals, 13 assists, and 23 points in 24 games this season, Kane would arguably give the Blues exactly what their looking for in their top 6. A big, skilled winger that can get to the net and score timely goals. Kane, who is in his last year of his contract, will likely be the big fish at this year’s deadline. A top 6 of Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko and Steen-Stastny-Kane would give the Blues a perfect combination of size, speed, and skill in their top 6. Buffalo would likely have to retain some money on his $6 million cap hit in order to make this work. While he may just be a rental, Kane is still entering his prime at 26 years old and the Blues could still extend him in the offseason.
Tobias Rieder: Due to the Blues’ cap situation, there’s a possibility they could be handcuffed to add player with a cap hit under $3 million. Not many may have heard of Tobias Rieder, due to him playing on a bad Coyotes team, but I think he would be a good fit in St. Louis. Rieder would add some much needed speed to the Blues lineup, and he’s safe to pencil in for around 15-20 goals this year, given his role. The 24 year old is in the last year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent in the summer. For a $2.45 million cap hit, Rieder has good value and likely wouldn’t cost too much in terms of the return to Arizona.
Patrick Maroon: A big, skilled forward that can produce 20+ goals for a cap hit of $1.5 million is exactly what the Blues are looking for. With 7 goals, 7 assists, and 14 points in 24 games, Maroon would rank 4th on the team in goals, and 5th on the team in points. The St. Louis native is also in the last year of his deal. While his numbers are inflated due to playing with McDavid on the top line in Edmonton, Maroon still has the talent to produce around the 20 goal mark, in my opinion. If the Oilers’ disaster of a season continues, I fully expect a few key players being moved, including Pat Maroon. Also, is a Carl Gunnarsson for Pat Maroon trade too perfect to be true? If the Oilers train wreck continues throughout the next few games, we could potentially see this before Christmas even hits.
Ryan Spooner: After missing most of the season so far while suffering two different injuries, Spooner is back in action for the Bruins. The speedy forward is a natural playmaker and would improve the Blues transition game up front. At a $2.825 million cap hit, Spooner could be a potential fit for the Blues. Spooner has 88 combined points over the past 2 seasons, and was rumored to be linked to the Blues last season in a possible Shattenkirk trade to Boston. While he’s only played just 7 games this season, Spooner also has a 57% faceoff percentage, but could also play on the wing.
Troy Brouwer: This is the one name that might make you shake your head on this list. The former Blue has struggled since signing in Calgary. Brouwer scored 13 goals last year, the lowest since his rookie season, and has been held to 0 goals in 23 games this season. Keep in mind that the Flames have buried him on the 4th line. Calgary has been rumored to looking at dumping him, but will have to retain some money on his $4.5 million cap hit, which is on the books for the next 2 seasons as well. This is the biggest risk out of the 5 names I’ve mentioned due to Brouwer’s age and length of his contract, but if he were to find his past chemistry with Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny it could arguably be the biggest reward.