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How the Blues Can Have a Successful Trade Deadline

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The NHL Trade Deadline is still over a month away (March 8) and the St. Louis Blues have several decisions to make between now and then. Last season, the club sold off rentals with Ryan O’Reilly heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers, and Ivan Barbashev to the Vegas Golden Knights.

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The Blues won’t go into full sell mode as they are near a playoff spot and don’t have many realistic valuable pieces to move on from right now. However, there are plenty of players that they can listen on in calls if the opportunity to trade them presents itself. I also wouldn’t rule them out of the low-tier trade market either if the deal makes sense. Here is how the club can have a successful trade deadline.

Trade at Least One Defenseman

There is no reason for Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to not have every defenseman available at the deadline. Even if there isn’t a lot of interest from other teams, it is smart to operate this way. The salary cap disaster that has been created by Armstrong over the past few seasons starts with the blue line.

Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, and Justin Faulk all carry salary caps of $6.5 million, while Nick Leddy has a $4 million cap hit through the 2025-26 season. These contracts have hamstrung the Blues’ ability to maneuver and fix their blue line. There have been rumblings about Parayko’s availability and that could make things interesting as the deadline approaches. I don’t think they will make a trade involving him, but the rumor mill will likely keep moving until the deadline passes. As for Krug, Faulk, Leddy, and Marco Scandella, the club should jump at any opportunity to move them. The blue line needs a serious overhaul and that won’t be possible without trying to get out of these contracts.

Move On From Expiring Forwards

The Blues need to explore moving on from their expiring forwards at the deadline as well. This list includes Jakub Vrana, Kasperi Kapanen, Sammy Blais, and Oskar Sundqvist. I don’t know if they could get a serious return for any of these forwards, but exploring it will not harm the club. Vrana needs another change in scenery, while Kapanen’s been hurt and Blais has struggled to find their footing for most of the season. I don’t think they’ll seriously explore moving Sundqvist after the way he’s fit in the bottom six, but the option might be there if they do.

Kasperi Kapanen, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This would also allow the Blues to give a young forward from the American Hockey League (AHL) an opportunity. Prospects like Zachary Bolduc, Zach Dean, and even college stud Jimmy Snuggerud could all see some NHL time after the deadline. There is no reason for the Blues not to give some opportunities to younger forwards.

There have been rumors about possibly moving on from Pavel Buchnevich, who has a contract through next season, but I don’t think they’ll cross that bridge yet. I think Armstrong will focus on moving expiring forwards rather than breaking up the top line unless an offer for Buchnevich contains incredible value.

Don’t Operate Like a Playoff Team

This is the bottom line for Armstrong and the club’s front office. They can’t operate like a playoff team under any circumstances. The Blues are close to a playoff spot right now, but the inconsistencies over the past two seasons have shown why they can’t expect to make the playoffs. They currently have two second-round picks, two third-round picks, two seventh-round picks, and a total of nine picks in the 2024 Draft. It would be unwise to move any of those picks in the first three rounds. They need to keep stockpiling prospects and pushing the franchise forward into a new era.

Armstrong has a few tough decisions to make as a deadline approaches, but the approach should be clear. He can’t be stubborn in his decision-making as he should realize the flaws within the structure of this team. I expect the Blues to be semi-active at the deadline, but it would be a surprise to be amongst the league’s most active.

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