Blues Weekly: Binnington, Bozak, Trade Deadline Prediction & More

It was a no-win week for the St. Louis Blues, going 0-1-1 with losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. They struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, allowing seven goals in the two games.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Ryan O'Reilly David Perron
Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron of the St. Louis Blues (The Hockey Writers)

The Blues have just not put everything together for most of the season, they remain in second place of the Central Division with a 34-18-9 for 77 points.

Blues Don’t Pull Trigger on Chiarot Trade

The Blues were said to be interested in trading for former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot, but they backed off and he was dealt to the Florida Panthers. General manager Doug Armstrong made the right choice in backing off, as the price for Chiarot was large.

Related: Blues Should Not Overpay for Canadiens Defenseman Ben Chiarot

To acquire Chiarot, the Panthers gave up 2020 third-round pick Ty Smilanic, a first-round pick in the 2023 draft, and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Panthers are one of the premier teams in the league and a favorite to win the Stanley Cup, and they are completely all-in. I never saw any way that the Blues would sacrifice a first-round pick for Chiarot, and I was right. But if they’re going to swing a deal at the deadline, the prices have gotten higher than ever before, they’ll have to get uncomfortable.

Blues Reportedly Called Teams About Binnington

To the surprise of many, the Blues reportedly called other teams with goaltending needs and pitched them on the idea that Jordan Binnington could be their guy. This comes just a year after the Blues signed him to a six-year extension with an annual average value (AAV) of $6 million.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The biggest motive for the Blues here would be clearing salary cap space and then giving Ville Husso an extension of lesser value and term. Husso has outplayed Binnington this season, but goaltending is such a volatile position that it may turn the other way around next season. The Blues’ defense has been poor and shaky for the majority of the season, which makes it harder to judge Binnington.

Binnington is now 13-12-4 on the season with a save percentage (SV%) of .903. His numbers have gotten increasingly worse since the incredible run during the 2018-19 season. There are a lot of things to attribute to this, whether it’s coming back down to earth or poor defensive units in front of him, both can be true. It’s been a below-average season for him, and that’s tough to see with goaltenders like Husso and Charlie Lindgren being incredible.

It doesn’t seem like the Blues will actually move on from Binnington, but the idea that they were shopping him around at any point is notable. If a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who are desperate for quality goaltending, could overpay then a deal could work. But I don’t see a Binnington deal happening, not yet at least.

Bozak Out With Lower Body Injury

One of the best leaders and veteran forwards on this team is Tyler Bozak, and they will miss him for the next month or more with a lower-body injury. The injury was suffered in practice, which is unfortunate to see, Bozak has been a key cog of the fourth line for the last couple of seasons in St. Louis.

Bozak has 11 points in 47 games this season, with a key being the two-way ability for him. He hasn’t been as good as his first few seasons with the Blues, but he is still an important piece to the puzzle. His faceoff percentage is way down this season, some of that could be due to inconsistent playing time, but he brings a calming presence with two young wingers playing alongside him.

Trade Deadline Prediction

It sure seems like a boom or bust for the Blues at this deadline, and with trade prices through the roof, a lot will be learned about Armstrong’s belief in this team. Barring a major collapse, they’ll make the playoffs, but matchups matter. They have to avoid playing the best team in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche, in the first round.

The Blues could still swing a big deal for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who is a boom or bust player himself. Another option is Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, and it would likely make more sense than a Chychrun deal.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Given that Chychrun has three more seasons left on his deal after this season, the return for the Coyotes could be enormous. Working in favor of the Blues is the fact that Chychrun’s numbers have been down this season, but the return will still be huge. A package like the one below is a huge risk, but it could be worth taking.

St. Louis Blues Recieve:Arizona Coyotes Recieve:
D Jakob Chychrun (Coyotes Retain 30% Salary)F Zachary Bolduc, F Nikita Alexandorov, D Marco Scandella
2023 Fourth-Round Pick2022 1st Round Pick, 2022 Fourth-Round Pick
2023 Second-Round Pick

I am aware that at the first glance of the package, it seems like a major overpayment, but that is the market right now. The Blues would be moving on from their 2021 first-round pick with Bolduc, and one of their best forward prospects with Alexandorov.

They would clear some cap space by moving Scandella and convince the Coyotes to retain some salary on Chychrun’s deal. This would show that the Blues are all-in with this group and that they are trying to keep the Cup window open for a few more seasons.

Their prospect system is plenty deep, so moving these two wouldn’t hurt it that much, keeping Jake Neighbours and Scott Perunovich should be a priority as well. I could very well be wrong about this, but I’ll say that I would be shocked if Armstrong and the Blues don’t pull a move off by the deadline on March 21.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: at Washington Capitals, 6 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 PM

The Blues will take on three Eastern Conference opponents this week, the second matchup of the season with each of them. They beat the Capitals and Flyers while falling in November to the Hurricanes. They’ve lost three straight games now, so they have to get back on track this week. This will be one of the biggest weeks of the season for the Blues, with three games and the trade deadline looming.