It’s February 14th and the countdown to the NHL Trade Deadline is in full swing, especially following last night’s horrific loss to Nashville. There are many different options and paths the Blues could take at this year’s deadline. They could sell some roster players that are soon to be free agents, and free some cap space while adding prospects and picks. A smaller trade could be made to help improve depth scoring, and the Blues could add a bottom-6 forward. They could go “all in” and make a splash by acquiring a top-6 forward, possibly even making another smaller trade for a bottom-6 forward as well, or they could simply sit pat and roll with the team we currently put out on the ice.
Now, the tricky part is, what should the Blues do? If you ask 5 different fans this exact question, you’re going to receive 5 different answers. My answer? The Blues currently sit in 3rd place in the Central Division. Yes, they have more games played than the rest of the division, but this team is going to make the playoffs. All in all, this is a down year for the Western Conference. Let’s face it, the only team better than the Blues on paper, is the Nashville Predators. Sure, the Jets are having a great season, so is Vegas, but there’s no doubt in my mind the experience and talent of the Blues overcomes each of them in the playoffs. As for the Californian teams that the Blues historically struggle against, the Ducks are not the same, they’re just too old. The Kings are still the Kings and while they’ll always put up a fight in a seven game series, I still think the Blues would overcome them this season. Last but not least, San Jose is lacking the goalscoring up front, but would still most likely give the Blues the best series out of the three teams. My point that I’m trying to get at here, is why would the Blues sell at the deadline, whenever there’s no real, clear cut favorite to come out of the Western Conference? BUY, BUY, BUY! The Blues have the assets to pull off multiple moves at this year’s deadline. In fact, I think it would be smart to utilize the value in a few prospects in order to acquire some good talent. Let’s take a look at some of the names that we could potentially see the Blues target at the Trade Deadline.
Michael Grabner, New York Rangers: The Rangers’ fire sale is about to begin, and I think one of the three players the Blues could acquire is 30 year old, potential unrestricted free agent, Michael Grabner. He would add elite speed along the wing and he has 23 goals on the season, along with 27 last season. PHWA member and Rangers writer for AP Sports, Denis Gorman told me that he believes Grabner will be dealt for a prospect and a late round pick. If that’s the case, I think he makes a lot of sense for the Blues.
Pat Maroon, Edmonton Oilers: St. Louis native, and soon to be unrestricted free agent, Pat Maroon could be making his return home. Maroon would be a low risk, high reward trade, in my opinion. He would provide both goals and hits, but most importantly he would add something the Blues have been missing this season, a big net front presence. I think a change of scenery would light a fire under Maroon, especially while playing for what should be, a big payday in the summer. The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis recently mentioned Maroon would bring back either a prospect on an entry-level deal, or a significant draft pick, likely a 1st round pick.
Rick Nash, New York Rangers: Going back to the Rangers fire sale, the Blues could look at 6’4, 33 year old Rick Nash. While he may not be the same player as he was 5 years ago, but I do believe Nash would be a big acquisition. He has 17 goals on the year and has played great as of late. PHWA member and Rangers writer for AP Sports, Denis Gorman gave me a good quote on what Nash could offer to a cup contending team. “Nash is a big-bodied wing who can score goals and play a very good 200-foot game. He is a very good defensive winger and could help a team’s penalty kill.” I thought that was an interesting quote, considering how well known Nash is for his offensive play. Gorman also said he believes the reported asking price for Nash won’t be met, and he will be traded for a prospect and a early pick. Also, bringing Nash to St. Louis would mean he wouldn’t be a Predator or Star, two teams reportedly also interested in the former first overall pick.
Max Domi, Arizona Coyotes: Here’s an interesting name. After his impressive 18 goal, 52 point rookie season, Domi has dropped in production. In my opinion, he is still going to be a 50 point winger that has speed and grit. Almost like a poor man’s Brad Marchand. Recent reports indicated that Domi is on the block. I caught up with Coyotes correspondent for NHL.com, and writer for Arizonasports.com, Craig Morgan about the Domi situation. Coyotes General Manager, John Chayka told him reports suggesting Domi is there for the taking, or that the Coyotes are shopping him are inaccurate. However, Craig told me he believes Arizona will listen on offers for Domi, just not for a cheap price. He mentioned to me Arizona would be looking for players to accelerate the rebuild process, and high picks are always desirable. Something interesting that I took away from our conversation, was that he said Domi has shown versatility by playing center and has played well down low in his defensive zone. Just a thought, but maybe Robby Fabbri’s name could potentially be brought up if the Blues and Coyotes were engaged in talks?
Andrew Shaw, Montreal Canadiens: I’ll keep this one short and sweet, Andrew Shaw would bring a different dynamic to the Blues. Also, some people seem to forget that Shaw is still only 26 years old. I caught up with former amateur scout for the Montreal Canadiens and founder of Recrutes.ca, Grant McCagg, who said Shaw would likely be dealt for draft picks. Grant also said Montreal would like to get two 2nd rounders back, but it would be unlikely a team meets that price.
Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres: Arguably the biggest name included with this year’s Trade Deadline is 26 year old, former 4th overall pick, Evander Kane. Despite his age, Kane is a 9 year NHL vet that would be a huge addition to any playoff team. The price will likely be high, especially for a potential rental player, but this is the type of player that could potentially put a team over the top. While he does have a bad history of being a bad locker room guy, I don’t think that is a huge concern. Kane has recorded 17 or more goals in 7 of his 9 NHL seasons. Depending on the price, Kane would look great in the Blues top-6, and who knows what he could do in the playoffs since he has never made it that far in his career as of yet. Like Rick Nash, I don’t think Buffalo gets the exact offer they are looking for, and in my opinion, I think two prospects, a roster player, and a pick could possibly be the package Buffalo accepts.
Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators: My personal favorite out of all of the names mentioned, is Mike Hoffman. Hoffman is a speedy winger that can score goals and bring extra skill to a team. Hoffman is a player with term still on his contract, so the asking price is high, as it should be. There were a lot of rumors about a month ago linking Hoffman and the Blues. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman even mentioned that Ottawa checked in on Robby Fabbri. However, in the past month, Hoffman has found great chemistry with Matt Duchene and has played fantastic. I spoke with a friend based in Ottawa that has high knowledge of the Senators and he mentioned he isn’t sure Hoffman gets dealt anymore due to his recent success with Duchene. However, in my opinion, if it were to happen, one of Thompson, Kostin, Thomas, or Kyrou would have to be involved.
Thomas Vanek, Vancouver Canucks: Here’s another low risk, high reward acquisition. Vanek would likely get traded for a 2nd or 3rd round small package. Maybe this is something the Blues look at as a possible “plan B” if their main target is off the board. With 16 goals on the year, Vanek is showing he can still produce for a playoff team down the stretch. Also, he shoots right, something the Blues obviously don’t have a lot of. It also doesn’t hurt to have the playoff resume that he has, producing over a point per every other game.
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets: Like Max Domi, here is an interesting name that you may not have expected to see. Jenner is having a down year in Columbus, but has a good track record of scoring goals. He’s only 24 years old and still improving, despite the speed bump this season. I think it would be smart for the Blues to kick the tires and see if they could work something out by trying to acquire Jenner while his value is so low. He is a former 30 goal scorer and also has 8 points in 11 career playoff games.
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: I had to save the most intriguing for last. The captain of the Habs is reportedly on the block, and I can guarantee the Blues have checked in on this at least some point this season. The 5 time 30 goal scorer is arguably the biggest wild card of the trade deadline this season. Pacioretty adds the same impact David Backes had on the Blues, except on the wing, and a greater impact. From hitting, to locking down defensively, to scoring a lot of goals, Pacioretty would do it all for the Blues. In my conversation with former Canadiens scout, and founder of Recrutes.ca, Grant McCagg, he said Robert Thomas is the obvious asset in the Blues organization that catches his eye the most. He followed up by telling me something interesting: “I have solid NHL contacts telling me Thomas isn’t available. He should have been a top ten pick.” I mentioned Jordan Kyrou, and McCagg said the Canadiens like him. However, he also said, in his opinion, Kyrou, Dunn, and a 1st rounder is the minimum it would take for Pacioretty. However I think that’s a bit steep, I don’t think the Blues even consider that. In my opinion, the price for Pacioretty is lower than that. What I found most interesting while talking to Grant, is that he told me Robert Thomas is the Blues true gem and future #1 center. That is very good news, especially coming from someone with the background of McCagg.
I also had a chat with former Blue, co-host of HardLine, and Host of the Cam Janssen Show, Cam Janssen. He mentioned to me that the Blues biggest weakness heading into the deadline was consistency from the players. I asked him if he thinks the Blues will look to address any needs at the deadline and he responded by saying they will certainly try. He brought up that they need a top-6 forward and have the defensive prospects to get one. When asked who catches his eye the most, Janssen said Pat Maroon. Mentions that he would fit nicely in this lineup and brings a big body with good hands. Janssen also adds that Mike Hoffman would be a nice addition to the top-6 as well.
The stage is set for what should be, a busy deadline across the NHL, question now remains what will the Blues do, if they do anything? Tweet me your thoughts, responses, and deals you want to see happen next Monday @Palazzola_RTN.