The Blues, while under Ken Hitchcock, looked like they were going to fumble down the standings and miss the post-season completely. Since Mike Yeo took over, this team has turned around in a big way. The goaltenders have really picked up their play, the team is playing as a more cohesive unit, and they continue to get production from previously unlikely sources.
However, this team is far from perfect. Ivan Barbashev is played very well in his short stint in the NHL this season, scoring three goals and three assists in 20 games this year. His two-way play has been a lot better than predicted, as has his physicality. There is a lot of talk, and for damn good reason, that even when Jori Lehtera returns from injury, that he should continue to watch games rather than play in them. No arguments from me on that front, considering how fucking useless he is.
Going into next season, the Blues have Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Patrik Berglund, Kyle Brodziak and Ivan Barbashev under contract and let’s be honest, that’s a pretty average center core. Paul Stastny is what he is: a pretty damn good second line center. Jori Lehtera is... hopefully off the damn team by next year.
Patrik Berglund has really become a solid third line center. He’s scored his first 20 goal season since 2010-11. So many people though he would become a top six center and to be frank, he has been a disappointment. Luckily for the Blues, Swedes tend to get better with age.
Ivan Barbashev is, likely, going to get better and better. He’s got good size, good offensive instincts, and as previously stated, he’s pretty good defensively. Unless things go horribly wrong for him this off-season, he’s likely on the team next season. Zach Sanford has played wing in the NHL, but is primarily a center as well.
Sadly (it has to be discussed) you can’t ever rule out Doug Armstrong and his summer love affair of trying to bring Vladimir Sobotka back to the Blues from Russia. This is the summer it actually could happen, as Sobotka’s three year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL has ended. If he comes over, that would just be another body down the middle.
Despite having a quantity of centers on the roster going into next season, none of them really stand out as a guy who can consistently play with Vladimir Tarasenko and actually help make him better. This has been the biggest hole in the Blues’ forward core for the last decade. They haven’t had “the guy” down the middle. People thought they would get that with Stastny, but he’s an above average second line center at best. Their best option to get that center was back in the 2006 draft, but let’s not talk about that...
This seems to be the first time in what seems like forever that a legitimate franchise center could be traded in the off-season, and that is New York Islanders center and captain John Tavares.
This tweet is from Islander beat writer Arthur Staple, and it really got conversations going among hockey fans. If we’re being honest, Doug Armstrong doesn’t seem the type to actually try and acquire Tavares, because he seems scared shitless to try and make a big trade. He’s terrified to look stupid, which would be likely.
That being said, if he doesn’t call on Tavares, something is seriously fucking wrong. Tavares would be the PERFECT center for a guy like Tarasenko to play with. His passing is elite, and he can finish plays as well.
So what would the cost be to acquire a player like Tavares? Well, he’s entering the last year of his contract this off-season, so a contract would have to be in place before acquiring him. The cost is going to be astronomical, as it should be, especially if a deal is in place.
So the price? You’re looking at one of Jaden Schwartz or Robby Fabbri off the roster. That’s a given. Then add, probably at least two really good future pieces, either prospects or draft picks. Tage Thompson could be a piece that would have to be going the other way as well. Then you’re looking at Armstrong likely adding a first round draft pick. Now, the price is high, and for considerable reason. He’s a franchise player, and this price is contingent on two things:
- John Tavares signs an eight year extension after being traded to the Blues. This is going to be a huge deal, but one the Blues would have to do. The price is likely to be around nine million a year, so an eight year, $72M deal.
- The New York Islanders also take on the full contract of Jori Lehtera. This means there is no money retained. This money off the books will help the cap space needed to bring in and sign Tavares to his deal. This also opens up a center spot in the lineup, instead of adding to the log jam.
Now, say it’s Schwartz and Lehtera going the other way, That would open up a ton of cap space for the Blues moving forward. If it is Fabbri and Lehtera as the two roster players going, it still opens up quite a bit of room for next year, and then Paul Stastny and his seven million dollar cap his would be off the books. Jay Bouwmeester would be off the books the year after.
There are plenty of ways for the Blues to make this work cap wise, and they have the pieces to make it work. Doug Armstrong just needs to have the guts to do it.
Now I’m going to leave fantasy world, because we know we’re going to have to watch Jori Fucking Lehtera play out his entire contract with the Blues, and there is no way that Army is going to make a deal this big. Go back to your morning, if you made it this far. If you did, you’re just as crazy as I am.
Would you do the deal suggested?
This poll is closed
Yes, Tavares needs to be a top target.
No, the price would be to high.
You’re an idiot Randall. (Trust me, I know).