Vladimir Tarasenko’s numbers are way down this season.
One step forward. One step back. One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward……
So the Blues fired their coach, Mike Yeo. Assistant coach Craig is now in charge. Time will tell if the change will bear positive results on the ice. It did when the Blues dismissed Ken Hitchcock and went to Mike Yeo (albeit early, as the plan was for Hitch to retire and Yeo to take over the following season). NHL teams usually see a burst when they make coaching changes.
But the early results are not that encouraging. The Blues have only played three games since the firing, but they are 1-2 in those games. Last night’s game was atrocious – an 8-4 spanking by the Jets. Now granted, the Jets are one of the best teams in the Western Conference, so winning that game was a tough ask (really though, winning ANY game is a tough ask for the Blues these days). Even so, the Blues can and should be better than that box score.
Let’s assume the worst case scenario: The Blues continue their basement-level record for the next couple of months. What can Doug Armstrong do to send an even bigger message than firing Mike Yeo?
The answer is making a trade. Or more than one.
In the past coupe of off-seasons, the Blues have shed Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny, and Jori Lehtera. Other names have departed also. So you would think with that much turnover, that the inconsistent play and at times atrocious breakdowns would have been weeded out. But that’s not the case. So we can question the names that are still here and presumably maintaining a culture that does not value effort, or discipline, or playing a full 60.
Maybe Doug Armstrong should trade one (or more) of those names.
Let’s get specific. The names I’m thinking of are:
Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester
Now I’m not suggesting that all of those players be traded, or even that they should be traded. Tarasenko is the face of the franchise, and he’s not been especially guilty of the aforementioned problems the Blues have. But this group is the core right now, and trading one or more of that group would send a strong message that no one is safe and this type of play is unacceptable.
Of course, whenever you want to trade someone, there must be a willing trading partner. Some of the contracts are simply not movable right now. But Doug Armstrong has shown he can be creative. While he may not be able to move a Bouwmeester, he might find a suitor for a Parayko or Steen, given the right deal parameters. Steen has 2 more years at $5.75 million per year. That is pricey given his production, so the Blues might have to offset that salary some way. Parayko has 3 more years at $5.5 million per.
I’m reminded of the surprise blockbuster trade the Blues with the Avalanche to acquire Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart. It cost them an at-the-time core player, Erik Johnson. I would love to see another deal like that.
This season is a culmination of a style of play that plagues the Blues for years now. It has to end. I and so many other fans just want to see the players held accountable, and trading them away is really the only way to do that. They need to understand that this is not acceptable. The fans deserve better. Our city deserves better.
The St. Louis Blues certainly have their hands full in trying to bring consistency to their play, put wins (and points) together, and settle down the drama surrounding the team and the coach this season. I wanted to take a pause with that and see how some ex-Blues are doing so far this year.