Welcome, Mason, to St. Louis Game Time! - Hildy
Before I begin on my debut article, I’d like to introduce myself.
My name is Mason. I’ve been a Game Time reader for well over 4 years now and am a Blues fan until the day I die and beyond. Absolutely nothing will change that.
I was raised in the good ol’ Pacific Northwest, mostly residing around the Everett area just north of Seattle. I grew up playing in the same rink that Blues Legend and Stanley Cup Champion TJ Oshie did.
Is that why I became a Blues fan? Maybe. I’m guessing it’s part of it. I met Oshie at a charity golf tournament he held near my house and he signed my brand new jersey (“To Mason, Happy Birthday!’ is the inscription). I ran into his father Tim on more than a few occasions around the rinks. When I played roller hockey in the nearby cul-de-sac with my brother and the neighborhood kid, I was always the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I must have scored hundreds of Cup-clinching goals in the late 2000s.
These things made me a Blues fan. The 2015-16 team kept me a Blues fan.
The offseason that Oshie left the Blues, 2015, gave me the hockey fan’s equivalent of a mid-life crisis (and the first time I ever cried over something NHL related, haha). I had a choice, either take my fandom to Washington and follow the first player I truly idolized, or continue supporting the first NHL team I actually took the time to learn about.
Ultimately, I chose the latter, probably out of convenience... 15 year old me had no interest in learning a whole other team’s roster (of course, diving into advanced analytics would force my hand just a few short years later, dammit).
As a fan, I’m hard on this team, and I’m hard on the fans. I’m like your Marine veteran dad. I’m hard because I want the team to succeed, more than absolutely anything. I’m an analytics nerd who writes with a strong heart and a stronger opinion.
Bearing that in mind, you are all idiots for thinking Ben Chairot is the defensive solution to our problems.
I don’t know why the hell the Blues are frontrunners to him; then again it’s hard to understand a lot of the moves Doug Armstrong makes. He’s not an analytics guy, but he’s not a laid-back guy either. Doug is just Doug. It’s why nearly every trade he makes is either a fleecing (Buchnevich), or a humiliating bust (Oshie).
There are a lot of armchair GMs out there, and I’d like to call myself their king. I chatted with some fans of the following teams about these trades, so I could get the most unbiased and fair offers I could. If I had my way, these are the exact moves I’d make at the trade deadline this year.
TO EDM: VILLE HUSSO, CALLE ROSEN
TO STL: KRIS RUSSELL, 2023 2ND RD PICK
With the Blues inking 2020 6th round pick Will Cranley (G) to his entry level contract, it was only natural for the Husso trade rumors to begin.
We need to be honest with ourselves here. With Husso’s stellar play so far this season, it’s clear he’s priced himself out of STL. The smartest thing to do would get a few assets for him before he’s a UFA at the end of the season.
The only team that has shown credible interest, so far, has been Edmonton, so it’s only natural that we come up with a trade from them. The trick is figuring out what the Blues need in return.
The Blues do not have a proper shutdown pairing. Mikkola-Bortuzzo is the closest we got, and with Mikkola’s chemistry with Parayko it proves difficult to put Bortuzzo with anyone but the scraps (like Scandella or Perunovich).
Kris Russell, 34, would be that ideal shutdown guy. He, like Husso, is hitting the UFA market after his 1 year, $1.25m contract expires at the end of this season. He’s currently on the Oilers LTIR list with an undisclosed injury, but has played a fantastic shutdown game this entire season, some of the best of his career. This would play into the Blues favor as well, as the Blues can use the cap relief to fit him in towards the end of the season, and he’ll be ready for a full spot come playoff time.
The Oilers, obviously, would want some form of defensive compensation for him. Since their system isn’t exactly filled to the brim with NHL caliber defenseman, Rosen would be the perfect piece to go the other way as a sweetener.
I believe this deal can fetch a 2nd rounder coming back because its Ville freaking Husso, and he’s been phenomenal. The Oilers desperately need goaltending, and will be able to afford him next season, since they have nearly $8m to play with next year. Even if Husso doesn’t have the success next year that he’s been having this year, he sure makes a helluva backup.
TO LAK: WILL BITTEN
TO NSH: 2022 5TH RD PICK (STL)
TO STL: AUSTIN STRAND, BEN HARPUR
This trade doesn’t do anything for the Blues in regards to loading up for the playoffs, but the trade (or trades) prove important for them nonetheless.
Currently, the Blues have four defensemen under contract in Springfield (Tucker, Cross, Santini, Rosen). The Blues need to bulk up on minor-league D, and Strand and Harpur are two decent options which wouldn’t cost a lot for the Blues to acquire. Until prospects like Galloway, Lööf, and Kessel migrate from their junior teams, we need temporary filling to properly round the roster out. Besides, Harpur could give Springfield the edge they’d need for the Calder Cup playoffs. Hey, just saying!
Do y’all recall the 2019 trade deadline? The Blues were already on their hot streak, but they still weren’t anywhere close to the top of their division by that point. Doug absolutely had the option to load up. The outcome? Michael Del Zotto. No significant changes were needed then, and I don’t think significant changes are needed now. Moderation is key for this deadline. The Blues have a confident group, and we’ve seen little snippets of this throughout the season. No splashy move that Doug could make is gonna change that for the better.
The offseason, however, is a different story. There’s no way to tell how these playoffs are gonna go for the Blues (well, this is true for all teams in every year of course), but as a realist I have serious doubts this team goes past the 2nd round. Therefore, a moderate offseason splash certainly isn’t out of the question.
The only move I’d be certain of for this upcoming offseason is a bit of a doozy.
TO DET: MARCO SCANDELLA, 2022 3RD RD PICK, DAKOTA JOSHUA
TO STL: FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS
Of all the moves Army made in the last 3 years or so, the Scandella re-signing confused me the most. Sure, he was a very sound shutdown guy in his first year with us, but the drop-off has been staggering.
Like all analytics nerds, I am subscribed to JFresh Hockey’s advanced analytics cards. It’s been a dramatic spiral downward of WAR and EV OFF/DEF since his trade to the team in 19-20.
It’s hard to make a contract worth under $3.5m AAV look bad, but wow. This one sure is shaping up to be a thorn in the Blues cap-strapped side. Although, to be fair, Scandella had a decent 10 games stretch before his injury recently.
Does that card strike you as a solid defenseman? Even people who aren’t cursed with advanced analytics knowledge know that’s a LOT of red numbers.
Would you say a defenseman with that kind of card deserves, say, a first round pick? Me neither.
Let me introduce you to Ben Chairot’s card.
I wonder if the Blues are hiring in their analytics department?
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