The St. Louis Blues lost yet another player to a knee injury, as this time Oskar Sundqvist is out for the season. Despite all the returning players to the club eventually, they need to try and add another forward that can bring some of what Sundqvist does to the table.
Here are two options for the Blues to target at the April 12, 2021 deadline, as well as an option that comes from within the organization.
Trade Deadline Target One: F Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks (Cap Hit: $3.789 million)
While Rakell doesn’t bring the exact same style that Sundqvist brings, he’s an experienced forward that can play on any of the top three lines. He has a solid track record of being a forward that produces, and the Anaheim Ducks could be shopping him prior to the deadline.
Rakell currently plays on the first line for the Ducks, so he would likely be bumped down a line or two if the Blues acquired him. He is more of a skill guy than Sundqvist, so he wouldn’t exactly replace him, but he is another forward that they can get in a trade.
I don’t think the price for him would be high either, as he’s scored six goals this season in 33 games. In the last two seasons before this one, he scored 33 goals, so he’s taken a step back after back-to-back seasons with over 30 goals. He could become a more physical player if added to this group, but he’s had a few seasons where he had 100 hits.
Rakell is a fit on this roster, despite the fact that some could be worried about his defensive game, but that wouldn’t worry me too much. It’s always nice to add a veteran forward, especially with all of the injuries the Blues have. Rakell will be a free agent after the 2021-22 season.
Trade Deadline Target Two: F Bobby Ryan, Detroit Red Wings (Cap Hit: $1 million)
Ryan has been quite a story throughout his NHL career; he was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft behind Sidney Crosby.
He had some elite scoring seasons with both the Ducks and Ottawa Senators, including a total of six seasons with over 20 goals. He’s dealt with personal issues over the last few seasons, but he’s had a solid season with the Red Wings in 2020-21.
Ryan’s tallied seven goals and seven assists in 31 games this season. He got off to a hot start but has come back down to earth slightly over the last few weeks. He would likely play fewer minutes with the Blues if they acquired him, but I believe he would be on a much more stable line than he has been in Detroit.
He could fit in St. Louis as a physical, veteran player with 51 career playoff games under his belt. He comes in at 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, and he’s had six seasons with over 100 hits as well. This would be a cheap deal for the Blues because he’s on a one-year deal, so he would be a rental.
Already in the Organization Option: F Sam Anas, Utica Comets (AHL)
Anas is playing in the Blues organization this season with the Comets, as they merged their AHL players with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate since the Springfield Thunderbirds opted out of this season.
Anas doesn’t play the same style as Sundqvist, but he would fit in with the Blues, given his ability to score. They need some burst of injury to get this offense moving, whether that is injured players returning or making a trade, or in this case, calling a player up.
With the Iowa Wild last season, he led the AHL in scoring with 70 points in 63 games, so there is no doubt he can provide offense.
I think the biggest factor for the Blues is to lessen their use of the physical style during this regular season and to start becoming more of an offensive threat. They have much more offense on this team than they did a couple of seasons ago, so it’s time to let the offensive players loose. And Anas could provide a spark if they decide to do that.
The bottom line for this Blues team is that they have to find a way to get this team going and scoring goals again. They’ve obviously struggled with injuries, but this team is still extremely talented and should make the playoffs. Any of these three moves could help them bolster their lineup while becoming more offensive-oriented. This is the biggest challenge that head coach Craig Berube has had, so let’s see if he is up to it.