4 Blues Players Who Could Be Traded This Season

With the way that this season has unfolded for the St. Louis Blues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see trades made this season. At some point, general manager Doug Armstrong needs to send a message. The right move for the Blues is to be sellers at the deadline. They won their Stanley Cup in 2019, but this group is trending downward. They are off to a miserable 4-8-0 start despite multiple winnable games on their schedule.

They don’t look like a playoff team whatsoever, so the time to tear some of it down is now. The problem that Armstrong will run into with a lot of players is their large contracts. A lot of the players on this roster are virtually untradeable in the sense that they won’t get assets in return. But there are some rentals that could be traded by the Blues.

1. Vladimir Tarasenko

This is the obvious one, Vladimir Tarasenko has been rumored to have wanted a trade for nearly two years now. After numerous shoulder surgeries and lost seasons, he reportedly wanted a change of scenery. That never came to fruition and he’s stayed in St. Louis, but he’s a free agent after this season and the time has come. This is the Blues’ most valuable trade asset by a longshot this season — they could fetch a nice return.

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Through 12 games, Tarasenko has four goals and six assists for 10 points. Like most other Blues players, he has scored below his normal rate, but there are plenty of factors for that. One of them is the Blues’ lack of scoring as a team, but the blame isn’t on him, he’s created plenty of scoring chances. His line with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich has been worse than last season. They will likely figure it out, but I’m not convinced that they will find the level that they had last season. As for Tarasenko’s potential trade destinations, there should be multiple teams calling. The Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, and New York Islanders are three that come to mind.

Obviously, the Blues would have to retain some salary on a potential Tarasenko deal, which would help to maximize their return. One potential idea for a return could be what the Philadelphia Flyers got for a rental in Claude Giroux at the deadline last season. The Florida Panthers gave up a future first-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, and 23-year-old forward Owen Tippett. He is a solid young player and was the 10th-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. The Panthers gave up a boatload for Giroux; I’m not sure a team would give up that much for Tarasenko, but the Blues should be able to get a first-round pick from a legitimate contender and a prospect if they do this correctly.

2. Ryan O’Reilly

It’s safe to say that Ryan O’Reilly is off to a brutal start in 2022-23. He has two goals in 12 games and an awful plus/minus of minus-12. While plus/minus isn’t the most accurate or important stat, that number is stunning. He hasn’t looked like the same player that fans have seen in St. Louis for the past four seasons prior. He is making way more mistakes with the puck than any of the previous four seasons and he’s not producing anything offensively. I would definitely agree that his linemates have been an issue. Jordan Kyrou is struggling mightily. He is also without David Perron this season and Brandon Saad has been injured for the majority of the season.

Related: Blues Problems Go Well Beyond O’Reilly

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However, he can be a valuable piece for a Cup contender. If there’s anything to say about O’Reilly, it’s that he is an elite playoff performer. In four playoff appearances with the Blues, he has 19 goals, 30 assists, and 49 points in 51 games. On top of those numbers, he notably won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoff’s most valuable player in 2019 when the Blues won the Cup. He’s also great in the faceoff circle; he’s been one of the best in the league over the past five seasons. The Blues could likely fetch a pick in the top three rounds for O’Reilly and possibly other assets, but it’s important that he finds his game over the next few months. But I have no doubt that teams will call for his services.

3. Ivan Barbashev

After a major breakout season in 2021-22 with 26 goals and 60 points, Ivan Barbashev is off to a slow start in 2022-23. I expected his production to drop this season, so this aligns with that prediction and the Blues’ lack of scoring as a whole. With that being said, Barbashev does a lot of things well and those skills go a long way in playoff series. I could see teams like the Panthers, Hurricanes, or Tampa Bay Lightning as suitable fits for him. Teams that need a heavy-hitting forward with the ability to score goals could use his services.

He is a great fit for the top three lines on any contender. He plays a lot of minutes as a middle-six forward, but he can be of value on the top line of a heavier team. His history in the playoffs hasn’t been great in terms of production, but his line with Oskar Sundqvist and Alexander Steen was a massive contributor in 2019. He won’t have a ton of value on the trade market, but he’s unlikely to be re-signed by the Blues in the summer. It makes sense to get something of value in return for Barbashev, especially with this upcoming draft. The 2023 Draft is supposed to be loaded with depth, so maybe it isn’t the worst year for the Blues to finish in the bottom half of the standings.

4. Torey Krug

Torey Krug was mentioned by various analysts in the summer as a possible trade piece for the Blues. Part of this was likely due to the expected emergence of Scott Perunovich as an offensive defenseman, but injuries have slowed him down. Krug has struggled in parts of his three seasons with the Blues, but overall he’s provided what they expected when they signed him.

Torey Krug St. Louis Blues
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

His contract is going to be hard for the Blues to move. He has four seasons left after 2022-23 at a $6.5 million cap hit. He has six points in 12 games this season, so his production has been solid. If there’s a contending team with cap space, they could look to make this move. He’s an experienced player with a lot of playoff mileage, he’s played in 82 total playoff games. In those games, he has 11 goals, 46 assists, and 57 points.

But as I mentioned, the contract will be difficult to move. That is the case with a lot of players on this Blues roster. Armstrong tied his own hands with some of the moves he’s made since 2019, most notably on the blue line. There are six players on this roster with contracts that run through at least 2026-27. Krug will be 36 years old when his contract expires; that is a scary number for a lot of teams in the league. I’d be surprised if Armstrong is able to move Krug during the season, but it could be an offseason discussion.

The bottom line is that Armstrong has to recognize that selling at the deadline is the correct approach. Unless the Blues go on a magical win streak and look good doing it, this team is not a contender. The right move for the Blues’ front office is to listen to calls about every player on the roster, nobody should be safe with the possible exceptions of Thomas and Pavel Buchenvich. I expect that at least three of the four players on this list will be traded before or on the day of the deadline.

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