Within or Without?

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Mike Hoffman has long been rumored to be Blues target

No team in any pro sport can lose its top offensive producer and not spend sleepless nights worrying about how to make up for that.

That’s where the Blues find themselves after the news came out that star winger Vladimir Tarasenko would be out of action for at least five months. He has over 200 goals in just over 500 games played. He’s eclipsed 30 goals in each of the past 5 seasons.

It’s safe to say that no one player the Blues have will make up for that lost production. It will come from several players.

While the first reaction of fans is no doubt, “who will the Blues trade for?”, the first reaction of Doug Armstrong, at least publicly, is “who on the team will step up to shoulder more of the offensive load?”

The obvious choice is: everyone. Tarasenko eats a lot of ice time, so there will be plenty of minutes to go around to players looking to make a mark. Schenn, O’Reilly, Schwartz and Perron are all capable scoring forwards, and they are needed now more than ever. The defenseman are all able to add offense every night, and they are also needed more than they were before the injury.

Perhaps most focally, young players like Sammy Blais (who scored tonight for his 4th on the young season), Robby Fabbri, and Zach Sanford have a wonderful opportunity to show they can produce consistently at this level. In fact, the coaches and front office may be grateful they can give more playing time to these younger players, as that will help them decide how they fit in the team’s long-term plans.

But let’s look at a couple of possible targets, if the offense is lacking as the season progresses. Long-rumored Blues target Mike Hoffman, currently with the Florida Panthers is in a contract year. He scored a career-high 36 goals last year, and already has 6 this season. He’d be a great fit on the Blues top line.

Taylor Hall is another impact player that would help the Blues greatly. He’s also in a contract year, with New Jersey. He would likely be a rental player, and wouldn’t come cheap. Although, the Devils’ appetite for keeping him may be waning, as the All About the Jersey blog explores here. Getting a player of Hall’s caliber, even as a rental, would be very exciting.

A third player the Blues may consider is Mikael Granlund, the Predators winger. He’s not on the Hall/Hoffman level, but he’s a consistent threat that would fit on the Blues 2nd or 3rd line. He had 16 goals last year, and wouldn’t be as costly as the first two options.

The cost to acquire scoring is always steep. Scoring is always at a premium, and the currency for it, is prospects and draft picks. The Blues already dealt one of their top prospects in the Justin Faulk trade – Dominik Bokk. They already are thinner in forward prospects than they thought they were, as Jordan Kyrou hasn’t developed into an NHL player yet, and Klim Kostin’s development is slower than anticipated. The Blues do have first round picks next year, and the year after. But first round picks are the only picks that have any certainty of being NHL players down the line. The Blues aren’t afraid of trading their first rounders, yet might be inclined to hold on to them for a while.

It just depends on how the offense responds to the loss. The players they have are more than capable of sharing the load. Either way, it will be an interesting winter.







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