Ok, so we have spent the last four days reviewing some of the trades that the Blues might be considering. Some of the articles have profiled top six forwards like Evander Kane, Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Mike Hoffman, players who would definitely give the Blues offense a much needed boost. While some of the other posts have centered around less talented but cheaper forwards such as Pat Maroon and Lee Stempniak.
The fun thing about these types of posts is there is no right or wrong answer. In today’s NHL literally anything or nothing can happen. However, there does seem to be two different philosophies that Blues fans are embracing.
A) The Blues offense needs a serious jolt and nothing but a top six forward will help which also means that the Blues will have to deal at least one of their top prospects plus a current player with a fairly significant cap hit.
B) The Blues top six is good enough and the club needs to focus on improving their bottom six because that is basically all they can afford to do and in turn won’t require them to give up a lot, in terms of prospects or picks, in the process.
I tend to be in the former. I think the Blues are loaded in prospects and if you can trade an unproven talent for a known commodity then they should do it, mainly because this season the Western conference is as wide open as it has been in a long time and the Blues are right in the thick of it.
However, this weekend Jeremy Rutherford threw a wrench into my plans. During his weekly mailbag article for the Athletic he discussed Doug Armstrong’s thoughts on the Blues top four prospects (Tage Thompson, Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou):
I don’t think the Blues are going into any talks seriously considering trading any of those four. Armstrong told me this week that he has been asked about those players a lot, which you probably imagined. I asked him if it would take the ‘perfect deal’ to move one of them and he said he didn’t know what the perfect deal would be.
That is disappointing to say the least. I don’t know how the Blues would pull off a trade for a top six forward without including one of those prospects. The club has to move a player, or two, with a sizable salary to have a chance of affording the incoming talent.
They simply can’t trade Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn or Colton Parayko, because any incoming talent that is available would simply be replacing the talent that is leaving thus most likely ending in a wash.
Robby Fabbri, Joel Edmundson, Vince Dunn, Dmitrij Jaskin and Magnus Paajarvi don’t have a big enough cap hit to make any kind of difference unless you traded four of the five.
Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen have played well on the third line and with Kyle Brodziak have formed a respectable shut-down line that will valuable during the playoffs.
Nobody is taking Vladimir Sobotka without including a major sweetener. His offensive numbers are horrible and his contract is atrocious. He used to be good at face-offs but only because he cheated and now, with the crackdown in face-off violations, he is average at best. In fact the only thing noticeable he has done in his entire NHL career is convince Doug Armstrong that he is a serviceable NHL player.
The Blues don’t have a first round pick in the 2018 draft and I can’t imagine that they want to be without their first rounder in 2019 as well.
Hopefully, when Doug Armstrong made those comments to Rutherford he was being coy. Playing a bit of cat and mouse with the rest of the general managers. If not then the Blues are screwed.
However, despite this recent news we are still going to operate on the assumption that anything is a possibility, which brings us to today’s subject.
This trade is a long shot at best but it does have two things going for it.
First, Doug Armstrong has dealt with the Penguins before on multiple occasions and we all know that General Managers are guilty of returning to a well that they have drank from before.
Secondly Patric Hornqvist is in the final year of his contract and Pittsburgh may want to get something for him if they don’t have any intentions of resigning him.
According to hockey-reference.com Hornqvist was drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 draft by Nashville. In 2014 he was traded to the Penguins for James Neal.
Since his second year in the league Hornqvist has consistently scored 20 or more goals and registered 20 or more assists per season. Plus, you know, winning back to back cups.
According to capfriendly.com he has a cap hit of $4.25 million and will become a UFA at the end of this season. He does have a modified no trade clause which means that the team can ask him to submit a list of up to 8 teams that he does not want to be traded to. I find it hard to believe that a contending team like St. Louis would be one of those eight.
The Penguins need two things, help on defense and a 3rd/4th line center.
(Before we go any farther I would like to recognize the fact that if Doug Armstrong traded another young defenseman to the Penguins then Blues fans would literally burn the building down, with him in it. The mass hysteria that would ensue alone would be worth the trade, even if the Blues ended up missing the playoffs).
But, as we have stated before, the Blues are loaded with defenseman, whether it be Vince Dunn, Jake Walman, Jordan Schmaltz, or even Joel Edmundson. They could absorb the loss of one of those players.
Obviously the Penguins would want Kyle Brodziak as their 3rd/4th line center. One would hope that Armstrong could buffalo them into taking Sobotka instead but all they have to do is watch about 10 minutes of game film and that option would go out the window.
However, Brodziak only has a cap hit of $950,00 which, even if you couple with Joel Edmundson, is not enough to make room for 50% of Hornqvist’s salary.
So it would come down to what the Penguins covet more, a young defenseman or Kyle Brodziak.
If they want a young defenseman then they would be forced to take Vladimir Sobotka, who I guess, could mascaraed as a third line center, maybe.
If they want Kyle Brodziak (which they would) then they have to take Carl Gunnarsson and his $2.9 million cap hit.
While I would hate to lose Brodziak, especially on the penalty kill, I think with the resurgence of Ivan Barbashev the team could carry on without him.
This trade is a long shot at best and down right impossible at worst but hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
Oh, by the way, the Blues play hockey tomorrow.
Things are about to get real.