The St. Louis Blues were sellers at the 2023 Trade Deadline, a position they weren’t in in a while. They have had success in trades under general manager Doug Armstrong. Given where the club is now, it’ll be important to lean on Armstrong’s trade prowess in the next month or so.
The Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Several important players from that team came over in trades. Armstrong will need to get a major return at the deadline to build for the future, as the organization will enter a “retooling” after this season. Here’s a look at Armstrong’s best trades as the Blues’ GM since the 2010-11 season.
#5 – Trading Eric Brewer to the Tampa Bay Lighting – Feb. 18, 2011
|To St. Louis:
|To Tampa Bay:
|2011 third-round pick (Jordan Binnington)
After 332 games and a few seasons as captain, it was time to trade Eric Brewer. The Blues went 38-33-11 in the 2010-11 season and Armstrong made four trades total. Brewer went to the Tampa Bay Lightning and played parts of five seasons there (246 games), including two playoff runs and a trip to the Conference Final in 2011.
But the most important part of this trade was the third-round pick that the Blues used to draft Jordan Binnington. It was the 88th-overall pick and early on, it didn’t look like it was going to work out. The Blues didn’t call him up until the 2018-19 season when injuries popped up. The rest is well-documented, including a Cup championship in 2019. While he’s been shaky over the past couple of seasons, Binnington altered franchise history; they wouldn’t have come close to winning a Cup without him.
#4 – Acquiring Jay Bouwmeester from the Calgary Flames – April 1, 2013
|To St. Louis:
2013 first-round pick (Emile Poirier)
The lockout-shortened season in 2012-13 was bizarre. The Blues went 29-17-2 before losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Kings. He made four trades before the playoffs that season, most notably, prying Jay Bouwmeester away from the Calgary Flames. Bouwmeester was the third-overall pick by Florida Panthers in the 2002 Draft. He became a terrific addition to the Blues for the rest of his career.
As for the pick and players that went to the Flames, it was a major fleecing. Defenseman Mark Cundari played a total of eight NHL games after a quality career in the minors. Goaltender Reto Berra played 76 career games, but only 29 with the Flames, and with the first-round pick, Calgary selected forward Emile Poirier. He played eight games for the Flames in parts of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. The Flames got 45 games from three players, while the Blues got a franchise defenseman. This was a home run for Armstrong.
#3 – Acquiring Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers – June 23, 2017
|To St. Louis:
2018 first-round pick (Joel Farabee)
2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost)
This trade was another big win for Armstrong. Brayden Schenn has been a major part of the team’s core for six seasons and counting. He was a good player for the Philadelphia Flyers, but his production has increased with the Blues. Through six seasons in St. Louis, he has 131 goals and 210 assists in 425 games. In Philadelphia, he played 424 games with 246 points. Maturity and growth are big parts of that, but being on a winning team has definitely boosted Schenn’s production. He has also increased his faceoff win percentage by over three percent. He signed an eight-year extension with the Blues before the 2020-21 season and should be around for the long haul.
The Flyers received forward Jori Lehtera, who was decent for the Blues in his first two seasons. He was a two-way forward who could score at a decent clip. He played 89 games over two seasons in Philadelphia before heading to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He is now playing in Finland and has 39 points in 40 games for Tappara Tampere of Liiga. Joel Farabee was the best part of this deal. He’s played four seasons in Philadelphia with 132 points in 252 games. He’s not Schenn, but he’s been a reliable player for them overall.
As for Morgan Frost, he rebounded last season after some injury issues early in his career. He’s scored 24 points in 48 games this season. Overall, he’s played in 158 games and has 69 points. Both he and Farabee are solid players, but the Blues don’t regret this trade in the slightest. Schenn has been great and could be named captain down the road.
#2 – Acquiring Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers – July 23, 2021
|To St. Louis:
|To New York:
2022 second-round pick (traded to Winnipeg Jets) (Elias Salomonsson)
This is Armstrong’s most lopsided trade as the Blues’ GM. He acquired Pavel Buchnevich and signed him to a four-year extension before the 2021-22 season. Buchnevich has been the team’s most reliable scorer the last two seasons, along with Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. He had 76 points in 73 games in 2021-22, including 30 goals. While he’s had injury issues this season, he still had 67 points in 63 games in 2022-23 and will be a big part of the retooling process. He’s a dynamic two-way forward and works well with head coach Craig Berube’s system.
The New York Rangers got Sammy Blais in this trade. While Blais was a solid fourth-liner and a big hitter for the Blues, he struggled in New York. He suffered a torn ACL in 2021-22 but has since returned. The Blues actually reacquired Blais from the Rangers at the 2023 Trade Deadline and he finished the season with 25 points in 71 games. The Rangers thought that trading Buchnevich would help them develop top picks like Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. That hasn’t worked out. This trade was a clear victory for the Blues.
#1 – Acquiring Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres – July 1, 2018
|To St. Louis:
2019 first-round pick (Ryan Johnson)
2021 second-round pick (traded to Ottawa Senators) (Ben Roger)
The Blues gave up a haul to get Ryan O’Reilly before the 2018-19 season, but this trade changed the franchise for the better. He played 327 games across five seasons with the Blues, scoring 269 points, and earning a Selke Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Stanley Cup. He was the driving force behind their seven-game Cup Final series victory over the Boston Bruins in 2019. He may be past his prime now, but he’s done great things for the club, including being a good captain since Alex Pietrangelo left before the 2020-21 season.
Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka were solid players but didn’t work out for the Buffalo Sabres. The biggest part of the trade is Tage Thompson. He’s become a superstar, with 100 goals, 88 assists, and 188 points in 260 games. This is a rare win-win trade for both teams.
Honorable mention goes to Armstrong for Roman Polak to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and a pick (that became goaltender Ville Husso). Another notable trade was sending goaltender Brian Elliott to the Flames for a pick that become Jordan Kyrou. When it comes to trades, Armstrong has a good track record. He should be trusted as the Blues get ready to make several trades before the deadline this season.