How’s the wildcard spot feel, St. Louis Blues? Rigid and insecure I bet, like an old Wehrenberg Theaters seat from the 1990’s. It’s going down like a Dairy Queen concrete made ten minutes before close, with a lot less M&M’s than you desired.
With the Blues in snooze mode yet carrying a modest point total for a prom dance failure squad, the question comes to mind: should they buy or sell parts at the deadline?
Let’s face facts before we turn on the XBox and start click “L9, V6” as my friend and colleague Art Lippo would say.
After a loss to the Dallas Stars that put the Blues and their 72 points into the first wildcard spot (The Stars winning percentage is better), there was a little unexpected dessert from NHL.com Blues reporter, Lou Korac, about Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s trade plans.
On December, I wrote about the idea of Hoffman in St. Louis blue threads. I liked the idea of it, mainly due to the two years left on the 28 year old’s contract and his legit (not Magnus Paajarvi’s brand) speed and ability to put the puck in the net. You’d be getting a guy who could replace Paul Stastny’s production and then some when his contract ran out this summer, and someone who would provide the Blues with a second line lightning bolt.
Teams would have to prepare for Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Hoffman every night. Four players who can light the lamp at least 20 times per season.
The Senators are in sell mode due to their mediocre performance and need to unload salary, so Hoffman and Derick Brassard have been mentioned in trade talks. I’d take Hoffman over Brassard, but the truth is both could bolster the Blues right now.
What would it take? The Senators were reportedly asking for Robby Fabbri’s medical records on his knee, which makes them think that the 22 year old rehabbing from knee surgery could work for them. It’s not a wild idea. Fabbri is entering the final year of a three year deal with the Blues, and is a restricted free agent this summer.
Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka have also been mentioned, and their contracts ($3.8 and $3.5 million annual, respectively) wouldn’t hinder the Senators. If one of those players are involved, you’d bet your ass a draft pick or prospect would be involved. Yes, Blues loyals, a baby blue would be sacrificed in a Hoffman acquisition. Brace yourselves.
Would I send Fabbri for Hoffman straight up? In a heartbeat. Hoffman is headed for his fourth straight 74 games/27 goals season. He’s getting better, as the increasing point total points out. Fabbri showed a lot of potential in his first season and a half, but who knows if his lower body is going to hold up to the grind of an NHL season.
There are many options for the Blues to think about in order to clear this trade with the cap, with salary coming off the books for next year, Hoffman wouldn’t be hard to fit in.
Unlike Pat Maroon, Hoffman isn’t a rental and wouldn’t depend on a superstar teammate.
Brassard is 30 years old, is having a fine season, and plays the center position as opposed to Hoffman’s left wing spot. However, Brassard had only 39 points in 82 games last season, and he’s only got one 20+ goal season in his career.
The Blues need a goal scorer, and Hoffman is that.
The truth, though, is plastered across 14th and Clark, folks. The Blues aren’t one piece away from a Stanley Cup Final, and there’s good reason to sell parts instead of buy pieces. Armstrong could find a home for Berglund, Sobotka, or Stastny, looking wiser in standing pat and letting 2017-18 die.
However, if you are going to make a move, do so with the gaze set on the future and not just the present. Think ahead, move forward, and bolster the next two years at least. Hoffman does that, and if it takes a young pup and a paperweight contract, the trigger should be pulled.
How about more sad but true facts? The Predators, Jets, Wild, and Stars all have games in hand over the Blues, with St. Louis having 22 games left to play. The Blues are 3-5 in February and 5-4-1 in their last ten. As U2 once wrote, they are running to stand still.
While low hanging speedy fruit adds like Nikita Soshnikov pack another bottom six lunch box, the Blues deadline goals remain foggy.
In the next ten days, there will be clarity. While there are good reasons to stand still, an add like Hoffman could make the Blues fun to watch these next two months.
What do you think they should do?