Clarity for Now and the Future

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Nikita Alexandrov has emerged as a building block for the future Blues.

The NHL trade deadline has passed. The Blues roster as it stands today will be the roster with which they end the season. A lot of names were sent out. A couple were brought in. The playoffs are out of the realistic realm of possibility. This won’t be a glorious year for the Blues.

Something Doug Armstrong said in his press conference following the Trade Deadline gives a lot of clarity about the state of the Blues, not just for the rest of this year, but next year as well. When asked about the Blues bringing in free agents in the offseason, he said “I don’t see us being active in this year’s free agent market. It doesn’t seem to be the class that would generate our interest, and also the timing isn’t correct. That’s why we brought in Kapanen and Vrana, two players that are very hungry on one-year deals.”

This is interesting, because it seems to indicate the Blues offseason shopping is already done. They needed a couple forwards after trading Tarasenko, O’Reilly, and Acciari. They found those forwards in Kapanen and Jakub Vrana. There won’t be a reunion with O’Reilly or Barbashev. What the Blues have is what they have.

Armstrong was also asked about how he would handle the 3 first round draft picks he has. He responded: “We have our list now, we do know we have our picks now and they’re going to be here. I’ll sit down with (Director of Amateur Scouting) Tony Feltrin and we’ll obviously really hone in on our list of people in the Top 10, which is where we’re picking now, and then I’ll go over different areas of where we might be able to move up.” That stands out to me because it appears that Armstrong is thinking he will keep and draft all 3 first-round picks. He probably won’t use them as trade bait to upgrade the NHL roster.

This is surprising because I think many people assumed he would package one or more picks in a deal for a defensive upgrade. It is well known that the Blues have a lot of money tied up in the defense corps. Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug are all making $6.5 million a season, for the next few years. Ideally, Armstrong would trade at least one of those contracts and bring in a number 1 defenseman.

That sounds unlikely to happen now.

It is possible, even probable, that the Blues explored many potential deals in the days leading up to the Trade Deadline, involving their defensemen. Of course, no trade materialized. A trade could still happen in the offseason, but it’s not like any of their top 4 defensemen have deals that are soon to expire. he long term nature of their contracts is what makes them so difficult to move.

So while it’s not certain, the Blues’ roster appears pretty set for next season.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Pavel BuchnevichBrayden SchennJordan Kyrou
Brandon SaadRobert Thomas Jakub Vrana
Jake NeighboursNikita AlexandrovKasperi Kapanen
Sammy Blais Logan BrownAlexey Toropchenko
Left DefenseRight Defense
Nick LeddyColton Parayko
Marco ScandellaJustin Faulk
Torey KrugRobert Bortuzzo

The goalies will be Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer. Current backup Thomas Greiss will not likely return to the team.

Things can always change, but wouldn’t look for more roster shakeup in the offseason. This is the group of guys that will go into battle next year and maybe for the next couple of years.

That may not sound hopeful, but I think this is a team that can play well and make the playoffs next year. The forwards are fairly deep and they have skill. The defensive unit is stable in that it has the same guys from last year and this year. The whole team is capable of playing better than they have this season.

The 2019 Cup Era is now over. A new era has begun.

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