Blues Should Seek Only Rentals at Deadline

Based on their recent play, the St. Louis Blues clearly need to make some sort of addition at the trade deadline, but there will be restrictions for who they can add. The deadline will take place on March 21, and there should be a flurry of action from multiple teams.

Related: St. Louis Blues Trade Deadline History

The Blues have been all over the rumor mill with their reported interest in many players, but I don’t see very many scenarios where they land one of the big names at the deadline. They’ll have to be smart and flexible with the moves that they make, and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong should be trusted to do so.

Blues’ Salary Cap Space Is Non-Existent

As of right now, the Blues have $22,379 in projected cap space based on their current roster structure. They also have 23 players out of 23 available spots on their roster right now. In nearly every scenario, they would need to move from a contract like Marco Scandella’s in any deal.

Marco Scandella St. Louis Blues
Marco Scandella, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Targets like Ben Chiarot and Mark Giordano are both rentals, but their cap hits are too high for the Blues to offset with the Scandella contract. They would need either the Montreal Canadiens or Seattle Kraken to retain salary, which would make the Blues give up more picks and possibly even a prospect. There is no scenario where I see the Blues overpaying for defensemen over the age of 30, especially with the stable of defenders they have now. But they do need a boost of some kind.

While they are reportedly interested in Jakob Chychrun, that would stun me. Chychrun has a cap hit of $4.6 million for three more seasons after this, which would make four defensemen with more than three seasons left on their contracts for the Blues. That would be assuming that the Arizona Coyotes would take Scandella off of their hands, which is possible if the Blues give up their 2022 first-round pick.

Chychrun is having a down season, but he plays for the Coyotes, who are one of the worst teams in the NHL. He has 19 points in 45 games, one season after he had 41 points in 56 games. I think this says that Chychrun is at his best when he plays for a competitive team, which would make the Blues think that he would bounce back with them.

Finally, the Blues have been linked to Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, who reportedly wants to stay with the Ducks, but he could be dealt if he doesn’t get an extension. He’s an American-born player from the midwest but has played all eight of his NHL seasons with the Ducks. He carries a cap hit of $4.1 million and fits the profile of a rental, and he could be a steady defender that the Blues need.

Josh Manson Anaheim Ducks
Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The bottom line of the trade deadline for the Blues is that they should be shopping for rentals only. They need to avoid trading the likes of Jake Neighbours or Scott Perunovich unless it’s a massive deal for a top-flight player. They have picks in the first, second, and third rounds of the next three drafts, with the exception of no 2022 second-round pick. They should focus on moving the Scandella contract and draft picks rather than their highest-level prospects.

Blues Have Players to Pay This Summer

One of the biggest decisions for the Blues to make this offseason will be what to do with David Perron. He’s had an up-and-down season but is worth an extension that works for the team. They don’t really have any big expiring contracts after this one, but they have some extensions to figure out. Both Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou are set to be restricted free agents (RFA) after the 2022-23 season, while Ryan O’Reilly will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in that same summer.

David Perron St. Louis Blues
David Perron, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There’s a legitimate chance that the Blues create cap space in the summer with a trade of Vladimir Tarasenko. They are getting to the point with multiple long-term contracts that they will need to move some rentals. With Tarasenko’s value jumping back up this season, they can get more for him than would have gotten last summer.

It’s likely that Ville Husso hits the free agency market this summer, meaning the Blues will likely have another cheaper backup goaltender next season. I expect either Charlie Lindgren or Joel Hofer to be made the number two netminder behind Jordan Binnington next season, which should save cap space instead of paying Husso, who may be having a one-off season.

Final Word

Armstrong has taken a lot of risks with multi-year contracts, but he is still trusted in St. Louis and could make some slick maneuvers to add at the deadline. He’ll have to dance around the cap a lot this time around, but since there have been so many rumors about their interest in high-level players, he’s clearly trying.

I’ve said the entire time that the Blues need to add a defenseman unless a unique opportunity to trade for a high-level forward comes around. I expect them to try to make a deal work, and with their recent losing skid, they’ll need to make an addition to signal that they are all-in on this season. There are ways to make it work around the cap, and a veteran GM like Armstrong can do this.

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