Defenseman Vince Dunn may not be long for the Blues roster.
The St. Louis Blues have a nice problem. They have too many defensemen.
You can count 8 guys who can play on any night. They are, in no particular order: Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson, Torey Krug, Colton Parayko, Marco Scandella, Niko Mikkola, & Jake Walman. That’s not to mention Mitch Reinke and Scott Perunovich on the taxi squad.
The Blues have plenty of offensively capable defensemen. They can afford to part with Dunn. In fact, I’m going to give some reasons why they should.
Reason 1: His inconsistent play
Dunn made a huge mistake a couple games ago, which led to a back-breaking goal and a subsequent lambasting by Coach Berube. And he was benched for the next game. Dunn has high-level offensive skill, but his state of mind can lead to defensive gaffes. The Blues already lost two defensively solid guys in Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo. They can’t afford to have guys playing sloppy in their own end.
Reason 2: Eliminate distraction in the clubhouse
The trade rumors are swirling. In fact, “The Score” recently put out this article with potential landing spots for Dunn. Such rumors can distract players as they slog through a season. It’s in the best interest of any team to avoid as many distractions as possible.
Reason 3: Clear cap space
Dunn’s cap hit is a modest $1.875 million, but every bit helps. and the Blues are right, tight against the cap (as they usually are). Tarasenko seems likely to return sooner than later (he posted an Instagram pic of his skates), and when he does, his full $7+ million will count against the cap. Dunn should not be difficult to move, at all. He has solid value right now.
Reason 4: Stockpile draft picks
Because the Blues are near the salary cap, it’s unlikely they would ask for a roster player in return. More likely, they would ask a high-round draft pick, either a 1st or 2nd. If the Blues can get a 1st-round pick, they should move immediately. First rounders are all but sure things to play in the NHL, but the further a player falls in the draft, the less likely that becomes. The development system is rather light on scoring forwards, so this could be a great opportunity to snag a high-round pick that they could then turn into an impact forward prospect. Dunn’s contract is only for this year, so the Blues should trade him sooner than later, to maximize his value.
Dunn had a decent game last night against the Ducks, but the Blues may have made up their mind already. They have younger players they need to get a feel for, like Mikkola and Walman, and eventually Perunovich. And with contracts coming up next offseason, they have limited space to determine which players they want to keep long-term.
Trading Dunn soon makes a world of sense.