The St. Louis Blues made a late offseason move prior to the 2019-20 season that sent a shockwave around the league, as they acquired Justin Faulk from the Carolina Hurricanes for Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk, and a 2021 seventh-round pick (No. 209, Nikita Guslistov).
While we haven’t seen a ton of action from Bokk since this trade, Edmundson and Faulk’s careers have changed quite a bit. I’ll discuss how this deal has fared for the Blues, and how it could look down the road for the Hurricanes.
What Faulk Has Done in St. Louis
His first season was, in a few words, less than stellar. He struggled mightily to fit in with a team that was cruising up until the Edmonton playoff bubble.
He bounced back, though, becoming the opposite of what he was with the Hurricanes, a defensive defenseman. His offensive performance was the main part of his game prior to his arrival in St. Louis, but it appears as if the Blues’ system has changed his game.
Although his offensive totals went up from 2019-20 to 2020-21, his metrics would tell you that his defensive prowess is the main part of his game. He took on a premium role last season, tallying 22-to-26 minutes per game. It felt like he gained a level of trust from the coaching staff and was able to rack up those top-pairing minutes with no issues.
Part of success as a defenseman in the NHL is having a good partner, Torey Krug became that last season. It’s odd, two players that were complete offensive defensemen prior to coming to St. Louis have become a solid two-way pair here.
The seven-year extension that the Blues gave Faulk wasn’t smart, as it likely allowed Alex Pietrangelo to leave after the 2019-20 season, but it was a move they felt like they should make. He’ll always have a target on his back because of the previous sentence. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality.
The Hurricanes’ Return
The Hurricanes’ return has been solid to this point, and even though they traded Edmundson after one season, he played well. We haven’t seen Bokk at the NHL level yet, but he is getting closer, and could slot into their lineup sooner rather than later. He is viewed as a top-10 prospect for the Canes, and rightfully so.
Edmundson tallied 20 points in 68 games for the Hurricanes in 2019-20 while not playing a ton of minutes on a loaded Carolina blue line. Those are impressive numbers, and he fit well defensively there as well.
In September 2020, 353 days after he was traded for the first time, he was dealt from Carolina to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2020 fifth-round pick. That pick was ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and was the 140th overall pick.
Bokk scored 18 points in 29 games for the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves last season. He is only 21 years old and could be a legit player for them within the next couple of seasons.
The draft pick from 2021 that became center Nikita Guslistov is a long way away from being an NHL-level player, if he ever makes it. This draft pick was a throw-in with this trade, it was a seventh rounder.
This is a difficult trade to gauge, as Edmundson only spent one season in Carolina, Bokk isn’t ready yet, and Faulk has been shaky in his first two seasons with the Blues. But I think there is still potential for either side to claim victory, as Bokk could pan out for the Hurricanes, or Faulk could build on his 2020-21 season.
This is not likely to be a move that fans will look fondly upon when Doug Armstrong’s tenure as general manager comes to a close, but it could be thought of in a better light if Faulk continues to be somewhat of a fan favorite. Armstrong isn’t afraid to make bold moves, and this was certainly one of them, right or wrong.
I have been covering sports for nearly a decade. I started with FanSided as a Baseball Contributor. Now I am writing about the NHL and the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. I grew up in Central Illinois as a huge fan of every sport. Finally, I do various podcasting across all major platforms.