As I listen to some Lord Huron(indie rock, get on it), I am dreaming about Scott Hartnell. Trusted Blues analyst Art Lippo brought his name up in the Roo Court's State of the "Have a Drink On Me" Address, so here I am. Coffee gulping and wondering out loud...
After watching the St. Louis Blues fire 35 shots at Henrik Lundqvist Thursday night and only net a single goal off Troy Brouwer's crotch, you tend to ask yourself. Is there any hope on the trade market for this team? As Monday edges one day closer and the Blues drop their second straight on home ice, will Doug Armstrong make a move for another player or just add a few more trainers?(DRINK)
The latest casualty was Jori Lehtera, who I figured was too slow to get hurt but he blew my mind when he left the ice in the second period against the Rangers. Upper Upper Slightly above the neck injury maybe? Who knows? Asking the Blues coaching staff about a player injury is like asking the government about the Middle East. A few nods, some hesitation and a recycled response. Fuck it. He will be reevaluated in July. Or let's hope.
Why do I like Hartnell? Do you like old trucks that still kick a good tank of gas around on a Sunday road trip even though their expiration date already passed? Sure you do. This former Philadelphia Flyer can still put the puck in the net. He has 19 goals and 20 assists for the Columbus Blue Jackets. A shitty team without a care in the world. Third to last in the Eastern Conference and sinking fast. You know what their fans dream about this season? The end. More on him in a little bit...
How do you get a guy who owns 297 career goals on the Blues if he costs 4.7 million dollars against the cap this year? That's about 4.7 million more than the Blues can afford to add. Well, you start by telling Steve Ott his services will no longer be required. Tell him someone near the glass wants to take his picture and have Ryan Reaves hit him. Something. No offense but what is Steve Ott going to add to this team? They need goals. Not a wild ginger running around picking fights(hopefully this gets another Twitter shoutout from Ott, fingers crossed). Sometimes you got to do what is best for the team. Ott's 2.6 million can go towards bringing Hartnell in.
What about the other 2.1 million dollars? You can offer the Blue Jackets a player like Dmitrj Jaskin or Ty Rattie. Young, cheap and potentially rewarding and building talent. Toss in another prospect if needed. If they are going to get that, you make them take Patrik Berglund, a player who might thrive outside the Blues system. Berglund is only 27 years old and has only one additional season left on his contract. Being that he is upright and not hurt too bad, you throw him in. Bergie isn't Hartnell, but along with a young buck or two he may seem more valuable to a rebuilding team. Maybe. Maybe not. The Berglund contract(along with Ott's exile) makes room for the Blues to take on Hartnell. Berglund's cap hit is 3.7 million, or a million less than Hartnell's.
Jori Lehtera is an option but I don't think the Blue Jackets want to take on his upcoming contract extension. He's only 28, but not as productive as Hartnell and costs the same against the Cap as Lehtera.
Here's another thing. Hartnell isn't a rental. He has three years left on his deal at 4.7 million towards the cap. That may be frightening but Scotty is still performing at a high level and doing so on a bad team. What if he had wing mates like Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
So, you are adding a gritty goal scorer and solid if not prolific playoff producer(19 goals and 28 assists in 91 games) for a playoff run and a few extra seasons while losing a promising if stalled youngster and Lehtera, a man who may have peaked last year. The Blue Jackets are getting rid of a salary they were saddled with when they received Hartnell from Philly. Are they suddenly going to contend next year? Nope. Each side makes out well and gets what they want.
And if David Backes decides to leave in the offseason, you still retain Hartnell but for less years than Backes will likely desire. You aren't left with nothing if the Captain leaves. At this point, he probably will. (Fuck you Ryan Kesler contract)
Is this plausible? Sure. Is it likely? Who knows? I'm not the General Manager. Just someone trying to figure out a way for his team to respond to Andrew Ladd(remember, I wrote about him earlier this week, DRINK!) going to the division rival Chicago Blackhawks. Every move from a rival requires an equal reaction. Armstrong can't stand pat. The last time he traded for a goal scorer, Erik Johnson was leaving town and Chris Stewart came in. The Blues need some extra scorers. Guys who bury the puck and can finish. Lately, when it counts, the Blues aren't finishing.
Alex Pietrangelo's return will shore up the defense. Jake Allen got stunned Thursday but shook it off. He's alright and Brian Elliott is apparently feeling better. Steen is a little ways off but should be back before the season ends. You slide Robby Fabbri between Schwartz and Tarasenko while Lehtera mends(or leaves town). Toss Hartnell on a line with Backes and somebody. Give it a name. Watch the goals pour in.
You can't think about next week with the Blues. You have to think about April. Can they score enough against the great teams? Hartnell helps. It may take some magic and some lube, but it can get done. If not, get ready for more 1-2 goal outputs.
Tell me how crazy I am in the comments section below and...DRINK!