The St. Louis Blues inconsistent play cannot be attributed to one single player or position. However adding consistency might be just what the doctor ordered and looking east might solve all the problems.
The St. Louis Blues have several problems going on right now. Despite a two game winning streak on the west coast, they are still getting too many mistakes from the back line and also weak play on the boards up front. The goaltending is its own issue, but that comes and goes as well.
So, if there are problems all around the ice, how can one trade really help out? Well, the answer to that is by looking east to the New York Rangers.
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The Blues and Rangers have been dancing around a potential trade all season long. While there is no way to tell how real any of it was, there has to be at least an ember there for all the smoke we’ve seen.
To be honest, I was not going to include Derek Stepan‘s name in any of my articles about trade prospects. Who trades away their current leading scorer?
However, I literally had a dream about it telling me to discuss the possibility at the very least. I’m no Nostradamus, but there have been dreams in my past that puzzlingly came true in just such a way.
So, why not? All these rumors are just smoke in the wind until one actually solidifies. Additionally, as mentioned, it could help out both teams.
Jan 12, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) checks New Jersey Devils right wing Bobby Farnham (23) during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Despite the fact the Rangers have the fifth best power play in the NHL as of writing this, they get little production from the point. Their leading defender only has two powerplay goals.
Shattenkirk currently has six and the Blues man-advantage has been up and down all season. Put him on a more consistent unit and his numbers might skyrocket.
The deal would also benefit the Blues. Despite his good offensive numbers, Shattenkirk has been an issue all season. Not on the ice, though his defensive play is spotty at best, but in terms of a front office distraction.
Doug Armstrong proved last season he was willing to ride his free agents into the summer and let them walk. Despite Shattenkirk’s assertion he wants to remain in St. Louis, it is all but impossible given the amount of money he reportedly wants.
The Blues simply cannot have that many high paid players on the blue line and not be getting good defensive production from so many of them. Also, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson will likely need raises in the future too.
Admittedly, adding Stepan does not ease your financial woes. The Blues would be taking salary on as Stepan currently has a cap hit of $6.5 million.
However, as with Matt Duchene, it would be worth it. Stepan is incredibly consistent.
He has 50 points in every NHL season he’s played except for two. One was his rookie year (still put up 45 points) and the other was the lockout year.
Consistency is exactly what the Blues need. Stepan is not a true superstar, but, no offense to Paul Stastny, he is better than anyone the Blues currently have in the middle right now.
It might be like a broken record, but adding center depth helps this team out tremendously. You can push Jori Lehtera down a line or two. Patrik Berglund can be played wherever he will be the most comfortable to continue his hot streak. You also give guys like Ivan Barbashev more time to develop without the pressure to perform now on a thin squad.
Why The Deal Is Difficult
The top reason this trade is difficult is simply the optics. The Rangers would be getting a player with 30 points under their belt, but giving up their current top scorer.
The Blueshirts would need to sell their fans on the idea that a few more points from the blue line offsets losing someone they just signed to a six year deal last season.
However, the Rangers are trying to keep pace in the toughest division in the NHL – sorry Central Division, but it isn’t you anymore. The Metropolitan has seen four teams climb the ladder to the top and fall to the wild card spot at different points.
Perhaps adding a little more goals from the point would be a good addition, while giving up the set up man.
From the Blues perspective, the money is always the issue. On top of the pure salaries, there is the issue of what money goes where.
I consider myself a smart person, but the differences in the cap monies is a little odd. You have current cap space, projected cap space, deadline cap space and other such numbers.
Currently, the Blues and Rangers have $3.4 and $4.3 million in cap space available respectively. Those numbers double for deadline cap space.
So, in theory, the moves would not break the bank for anyone. The Blues only take on about an extra $2.3 million in salary, which fits in fine.
The future is where you might worry. Berglund is a free agent. Do you want to re-sign Nail Yakupov? Parayko will be a restricted free agent this summer. He is under one more year, but do you want to figure out a long-term deal with Robby Fabbri right now to avoid arbitration later?
All those things must be considered. This deal would help out the Blues immediately, but would it hamstring you with your core guys currently on the team?
I say go for it if this thing was actually on the table. It is quite unlikely that it would be a simple player for player swap, but you don’t pass this one up if you are Armstrong.
Shattenkirk is all but gone one way or the other. He made it clear he wants to play out east, so you get no player interference.
The Blues would get a cost controlled, though not cheap, player who is only 26 (younger than Shattenkirk). Stepan is also a solid player with decent defensive numbers, reasonable faceoff percentages and pretty solid in the locker room.
It would be a win-win for both teams in terms of getting good players while shaking things up. Sadly that means it probably won’t happen.
Blockbuster deadline deals are somewhat a thing of the past as every team feels they should not sell too much to gain. Since this entire article spun out of a dream, there is no problem with all of us dreaming a bit.