The St. Louis Blues didn’t make a move at this year’s trade deadline. However, St. Louis should trade
defenseman forward Zach Sanford this off-season.
Sanford was originally drafted 61st overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2013 NHL Draft. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals. After making an impact in the Capitals’ training camp and preseason, Sanford made the Capitals’ opening night roster to open the 2016-17 season. He had one shot on goal in his NHL debut. He added two goals and one assist in 26 games before being traded to the Blues as part of a package for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
Sanford has been through his ups and downs in St. Louis. In December 2018, when the Blues had just lost eight of their last 11 games, he dropped the gloves with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, throwing a couple of punches.
That year, Sanford went on to accumulate eight goals and 12 assists in 60 regular season games. The Blues punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and won their first Stanley Cup. Although Sanford became a 2019 Stanley Cup Champion, he scored just one postseason goal in a do-or-die Game 7 against the Boston Bruins.
In 2019-20, Sanford achieved his first career hat trick in a four-goal performance against the Vegas Golden Knights. Moreover, Sanford’s achievement led him to become the first Blues player to score four or more goals in a game in more than five years.
Fast forward to 2021.
The Blues were plagued with injuries for most of the regular season. The Blues’ salary cap is slim. Many Blues fans have been critical of their players, including Sanford, and some even went as far as to say that Ryan O’Reilly should be stripped of his captaincy.
Some Blues fans believe Sanford should be on the trading block. He’s made a lot of mistakes and committed a good amount of turnovers at bad times. He doesn’t generate much production, scoring nine goals and five assists thus far this season. Sanford’s mistakes have partially cost the Blues some critical games.
Sanford will become a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Blues have options. They can fail to extend him a qualifying offer, letting him walk for nothing, or they can shop his rights (or do a sign and trade)
The Blues still have a shot at the fourth playoff spot in the West, but when the post-season ends, they should consider trading Sanford to create cap space. The Blues must make moves in order to succeed, and they have unrestricted free agents such as Jaden Schwartz to concern themselves with.