The St. Louis Blues have made a move, acquiring left-handed defenseman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a pair of draft picks. The Blues will surrender a 2020 second-round draft pick, as well as a conditional 2021 fourth-round draft pick. The Canadiens will reportedly retain half of Scandella’s $4 million total salary cap hit.
According to Andy Strickland, a local reporter in St. Louis, the Blues will surrender the conditional pick in the event that they re-sign Scandella this offseason, or if they reach the third round of the playoffs and their new defenseman plays in half of the games.
The Blues were likely forced into this trade by the unforeseen circumstances surrounding veteran left-handed defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The 36-year-old collapsed on the bench last Tuesday in a game against the Anaheim Ducks, suffering a cardiac event. At present, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever return to a professional hockey career. So, with the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was forced to look for a replacement.
Canadiens Make Wise Investment
This isn’t the first time Scandella has moved this season. Back in January, the Canadiens acquired the defenseman from the Buffalo Sabres. At the time, they paid a 2020 fourth-round pick, previously acquired from the San Jose Sharks. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill quickly flipped that pick to the Calgary Flames to acquire forward Michael Frolik.
Scandella played just 20 games with the Canadiens, but general manager Marc Bergevin, himself a former Blues left-handed defenseman, played his hand well. Though his team is unlikely to make the postseason — which calls his own job into jeopardy — he used that positioning to leverage the trade deadline to his advantage.
In essence, Bergevin flipped a fourth-round pick for at least a second-round pick by making Montreal a temporary staging area for Scandella. The Blues were forced to pay a higher price by Bouwmeester’s departure and the proximity to the trade deadline.
Scandella’s New Home
The Blues play the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night, meaning that Scandella will likely debut with his new team on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He will probably join Bouwmeester’s former partner Colton Parayko on the second defensive unit.
With the acquisition, the Blues also announced that Bouwmeester would be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) and that defensive prospect Niko Mikkola would be reassigned to the American Hockey League (AHL). The roster move for Bouwmeester gives the Blues added salary cap flexibility, as they can now spend his $3.25 million before the trade deadline. There is uncertainty surrounding Vladimir Tarasenko’s return and its effect on the cap, but with Bouwmeester moving to LTIR, the Blues can at least afford Scandella.
Scandella joins Brenden Dillon among Tuesday’s trade acquisitions. Bob McKenzie of TSN is also reporting that a deal is in the works to send Alec Martinez, the other prominent LHD trade chip, to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.