Late Friday night, Blues General Manager, Doug Armstrong confirmed that his options for a big fish are slowly being crossed off the list. Over the last few weeks, the Blues have made it known that they are interested in acquiring at least one of John Tavares, Ilya Kovalchuk, or Artemi Panarin. As the night unfolded, trade talks seemed to be pushed and the Blues were no closer to adding a current impact forward to their club. St. Louis traded up in the draft to move to #25 by trading their first round (29) and third round (76) picks to the Toronto Maple Leafs to select German forward Dominik Bokk.
Kolvalchuk expressed his appreciation for the Blues interest, but has stated that the team was not a fit for what he is currently looking for. Details have not been finalized at this time, but all signs point to Kovalchuck to sign with the LA Kings.
Panarin has stated that he does not have interest in resigning with Columbus Blue Jackets or the St. Louis Blues if he were to be traded. He has stated interest in playing for a “big market” for his new deal. If cap space can be made, Panarin could even make his way back to Chicago and reunite with Patrick Kane.
As the Blues list of impact forwards are cut down piece by piece, we are forced to wonder whether or not St. Louis at this time is being viewed by outside players and organizations as playoff contenders, or a team that is still a few years off. If this is the case, Doug Armstrong and the rest of the Blues management needs to consider whether their approach to free agency and trades is to compete here and now, or that their next window is looking open in the next 2-3 years.