We continue our look at potential trade targets for the St. Louis Blues. We’re still focusing up the middle and while this particular name isn’t as sexy, he might be more pragmatic.
The St. Louis Blues biggest problem is up the middle. Whether they are winning or losing, playing well or poorly, they are not really getting good production from the center position.
Their “number one” center, Jori Lehtera just is not getting the job done. Despite playing with one of the league’s premier scorers, he has fewer points in each season than the last and only has 13 points halfway through the 2016-17 season.
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Paul Stastny is averaging top line minutes while not getting to play with the team’s best winger. It has been a struggle in St. Louis, but he has had a bounce back second half last year and a solid first half this season.
That means picking up a true center would be a big asset either at or prior to the trade deadline. We already began a look at some of the players the team could and should be interested in. Now the focus shifts to the northeast.
Tyler Bozak might not be as sexy as some of the names Blues fans are interested in, but he is much more pragmatic. He is under contract for one more season following this one and is cheaper as well.
Bozak’s initial negative is that he’s no spring chicken. By the end of the 2016-17 season, he will be 31 years old.
He still has good years in front of him, but what can he bring at that age? I don’t say that in terms of physical attributes declining, but more how much more can you expect? Is a 31 year old worth what you would have to give up?
Bozak is steady. He’s not flashy and does not put up gaudy numbers, but you can usually count on his production.
He has missed plenty of games over the years, but still finds a way to get his numbers. Bozak usually scores in or around the teens in terms of goals and already has 10 this season. He is also a good set-up man and just has not had a competent scorer in Toronto until recently.
Now that the Maple Leafs’ offense is really hitting its stride, Bozak is flourishing as well. 38 games in, he already has 28 points and 18 assists.
Whether or not he would be a fit with Vladimir Tarasenko is up in the air. If nothing else, he would give the Blues more options in the middle and let more guys play on their comfortable sides.
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Who To Give Up
The main thing with Bozak is you don’t have to give up as much. From a pure salary point of view, he would be an even swap with Kevin Shattenkirk.
If the Blues could afford it, which they likely can’t, St. Louis might even be able to get an extra body to their side from the deal.
A deal with Shattenkirk seems the most likely here. Toronto wants an offensive defenseman and feels that might be one of the pieces to put them over the top to make the playoffs.
If Doug Armstrong really worked some magic, maybe you even figure out a way to keep Shattenkirk. That is highly unlikely, but if you clear some salary it might be possible.
The issue becomes what is ok to give up for Bozak. He’s a steady player as mentioned, but is not going to light the world on fire.
If it’s player for player or maybe a mix, it’s ok. If you’re the Blues, you don’t want to be giving up a top four defender plus a prospect or NHL player to get Bozak in my opinion.