The St. Louis Blues are in a rough spot when it comes to their approach to the deadline — their record is 16-16-6 and they have struggled mightily in the last month. The decision to sell or not could define the rest of general manager Doug Armstrong’s tenure.
As I prepared a list of four potential players for the Blues to trade at the deadline, I’m not saying these players should be traded, but given their individual situations, it could make sense.
Mike Hoffman was never going to be more than a rental with the Blues, as he signed a one-year deal worth $4 million leading into the 2020-21 season. With the way this season has gone, many have wondered whether they will just cut ties with him at the deadline and get something in return before they lose him in the offseason.
He hasn’t fit into the Blues’ system or lineup this season, and he was a healthy scratch during a series in March. He has played well since that scratch, but he isn’t fitting and the team is trending in the wrong direction.
As far as a return for Hoffman goes, I believe they could get a mid-round draft pick for him from a contender that wants to add him to their top six. I liked the idea of signing him, but it just hasn’t worked. He’s tallied nine goals in 36 games in 2020-21, only one of them on the power play. He isn’t being utilized to his best abilities by the Blues either, fair or not.
This is a player that Blues fans have been critical of since Day 1. He has been brutal this season, there is no doubt about that — countless turnovers and not a lot of production.
He is due to be a restricted free agent (RFA) this offseason, and is currently making $1.5 million against the cap. He has scored eight goals in 36 games while playing a top-9 role, which is less than ideal after a breakout season when he scored 16 goals in 2019-20.
The goals are fine, but everything else he does has been subpar. He hasn’t been strong on his stick or defensively aware whatsoever. To be fair, the Blues have gotten a lot out of Sanford in his three and half seasons in St. Louis. He was the 61st-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft — they acquired him from the Washington Capitals with a first-round pick and more for Kevin Shattenkirk.
The return on that deal has turned out to be solid, but Sanford has been disappointing this season, no doubt. I’d be surprised if their return in a deal for him is even close to significant.
If I were the general manager of this team, I would not want anything to do with trading Jaden Schwartz away. He is as important of a forward on this team as nearly anyone. They should pay this man.
Schwartz fits in perfectly with anybody on this team, and he was sorely missed when he was out for nearly a month. He hasn’t produced to his own expectations this season with 11 points in 23 games, but he is all over the walls and is strong with the puck.
He is an underrated, two-way forward, and may be overlooked because of his size. They lost Alex Pietrangelo to free agency last season, and that has hurt this team for sure. They can’t afford to lose another core player to free agency — that has already bit them on the backside once.
If they actually made a move to trade him, since he is a rental, they could likely fetch a second- or third-round pick in this year’s draft, as most teams may be more willing to part ways with their draft capital with an unknown draft coming. But at the end of the day, I want no part of the Blues trading Schwartz.
There were rumors early in the season that Dunn could be on his way out after being scratched for a few games. It doesn’t seem like they are motivated to trade him, but you never know.
Dunn has been an up-and-down defenseman in his time with the Blues, but he’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance, especially in his first couple seasons. His role has been undefined for most of this season, shuffling with other defenders every few games.
He has only scored five goals and seven assists over 36 games this season with lackluster defensive play overall. His plus/minus is a minus-10 — it has been in the plus category for his first three seasons. This hasn’t been a great run for Dunn.
He’s making $1.875 million this season with RFA status after this season. I could see the Blues trading him rather than re-signing him this offseason. Either way, I’d prefer to keep Dunn as his potential is still high, in my opinion. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving him if the return is right.
Either way, the Blues are in serious danger of missing the playoffs as they are tied for fifth in the Honda West Division with the San Jose Sharks at 38 points, five points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand over the Arizona Coyotes. However, with the Blues’ remaining schedule, it will be difficult to overcome their issues and sneak into the playoffs. I think the time is now to sell assets and re-group for the 2021-22 season. You never know, they could get lucky in the draft lottery. All in all, this season has been a flat-out disappointment.
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 run my own podcast network “ECSW” on all the major podcast platforms.