ST. LOUIS — A confident Doug Armstrong stood with his back to a framed photo of The Great One, then referenced the legend when asked which of his players, if any, would be off-limits in future trades.
“Well, Wayne Gretzky got traded,” Armstrong said. “I would say everybody is available. Some guys are not likely to be traded, but you would be foolish to say … if the MVP of the league was made available, and they called you and said, ‘We need this piece, do you want it?’ You never want to paint yourself deep into that corner.”
The St. Louis Blues general manager smiled, and continued to keep any trade plans for the 2013-14 season close to his chest, leaving the door open for the kind of speculation that runs rampant in the NHL this time of year.
The Blues recently made waves when they signed Derek Roy, a veteran center Armstrong believes will bring a playmaking ability his team lacked last season.
But will that be the last major move? And could a swap — the Blues have been tied to multiple trade scenarios already — send a current member of the team’s nucleus out of town?
“You’re never done,” Armstrong answered. “But we are very comfortable with the group we have right now.”
The GM did clear up a couple of things, specifically, when he spoke to reporters Tuesday at an offseason training session for prospects held inside the Blues’ training facility at the St. Louis Mills.
First, his priority is to sign two restricted free agents, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and right wing Chris Stewart, even if those deals arre months away.
“I wouldn’t characterize it one way or the other,” Armstrong said when asked how close the signings are. “I find these deals, they happen very quickly. You seem like you’re not close. All of a sudden, you’re calling each other saying, ‘We’re glad you’re back.’ So, it could happen today. It could happen in September, or October. I’m very comfortable that we will get both of those guys in here at the right time.”
And second, Armstrong doesn’t think he has to move one of his three goalies: Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen.
“No,” Armstrong said. “I don’t, at all. Jake came up and played very well for us last year. But he still has some growth he can do. I don’t think playing in the American Hockey League would stunt his development. Jaro [Halak] and Elliott won the Jennings [William Jennings Trophy] just two short years ago. … If we go into the season with these three goalies, that’s excellent depth.”
So that’s that, for now. It could all change if a can’t-miss opportunity comes along.
Just ask The Great One.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.