Blues Weekly: Losing Streak, Kapanen, Trade Deadline & More

It was another disappointing week in a season to forget for the St. Louis Blues. They continue to fall down the standings and trade away players. Losing is best for the future of the franchise, but it’s hard to watch.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

The current issues for the Blues are a mess made by general manager Doug Armstrong, but he’s done well with these trades to try and clean things up. The next few days could determine the direction that the Blues go in next season.

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Blues Have Lost Five Straight Games

The Blues have lost five straight games and are 3-5-2 in their last 10, giving them the ninth-best odds in the NHL Draft Lottery. Six points separate the Blues from the sixth-best odds and they’re eight points from the fifth. The team has only scored eight goals during this losing streak while giving up 21 goals. Despite head coach Craig Berube getting new players into the lineup and shuffling his lines, the Blues have still struggled to generate offense.

Related: Blues Make Another Bold Move in Trading Barbashev

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Continuity is missing after so many moves, yet with almost their full stable of defensemen from the beginning of the season, they’re still one of the worst units in the league. They allowed 48 shots in their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Even with the Blues goaltender struggling, they aren’t to blame. The defensive unit has been bad all season. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

Blues Claim Kapanen Off Waivers

The Blues claimed forward Kasperi Kapanen off waivers from the Penguins on Saturday before the game against them. Kapanen is an experienced forward who Berube can plug into the lineup. After receiving a preposterous extension with a salary cap hit of $3.2 million in July 2022, he struggled in Pittsburgh. He scored seven goals in 43 games this season and 11 goals in 79 games last season. However, he’s still only 26 years old and scored 20 goals in 2018-19 for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blues need scoring depth and the hope is that Kapanen can provide that.

Blues Acquire Zach Dean in Barbashev Trade with Vegas

The Blues have officially traded every big-name rental from their roster. In an early move on Sunday, they sent forward Ivan Barbashev to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward prospect Zach Dean. It’s not a surprising destination for Barbashev, as Vegas came up often in trade rumors, and he will be reunited with former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo as Vegas tries to win a wide-open Western Conference. The Blues got a good return in this deal.

Dean was a first-round pick, selected 30th overall by the Golden Knights in the 2021 Draft. At 20 years old, he’s in his fourth season with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he continues to improve his production. This season, he has 24 goals and 27 assists in 34 games after scoring 21 goals in 47 games last season. The Blues may have just landed themselves another Barbashev; he had 95 points in 57 games in his last season in the QMJHL.

Zach Dean Gatineau Olympiques
Zach Dean of the Gatineau Olympiques (Steve Philippe)

Brayden Olafsson of Dobber Prospects said this of Dean before the 2021 Draft: “The Gatineau Olympiques’ 16-year-old quickly became a play-driving centerman in his rookie campaign in the QMJHL. His early success can be attributed to several mature aspects of his game, including a strong awareness and anticipation of gaps in his opponent’s defense, as well as the availability and readiness of his teammates. Dean owns a favorable first stride that allows him to win loose puck races and create turnovers in all zones. His defensive reactions can be a bit delayed, but he is on the right track to developing an acceptable two-way style.” 

Barbashev’s value went down this season with his offensive numbers falling. But he has a playoff style, and the Golden Knights have plenty of use for him, especially with their captain Mark Stone on long-term injured reserve. The Blues already have five picks in the first three rounds of the 2023 Draft and four in the 2024 Draft, so they didn’t need picks to sweeten this deal, and Dean could develop into a middle-six center.

Crucial Trade Deadline for Blues This Week

There have been a number of big names already dealt with multiple days to go until the deadline. Big names remaining include Patrick Kane, Jakob Chychrun, and Erik Karlsson. Kane to the New York Rangers seems like a forgone conclusion, and there’s a good chance that neither Chychrun nor Karlsson are traded. With a few days left before the deadline, the Blues should focus on their defensemen. Whether it’s Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, or Justin Faulk, they would benefit from offloading a contract from the blue line.

There seems to be some quiet interest in Parayko. The Edmonton Oilers are desperate for a defenseman, and Parayko could be a fit.

The Blues should shy away from adding to their team this week. Those deals should hold off until the summer. They should be fine with Timo Meier being traded to the New Jersey Devils. The Blues were said to be involved in the Meier sweepstakes. Armstrong has plenty of work still to do this week.

Blues’ Week Ahead

  • Tuesday: vs. Seattle Kraken (32-21-6, 70 points) 7 PM
  • Thursday: at San Jose Sharks (18-30-12, 48 points), 9:30 PM
  • Saturday: at Los Angeles Kings (33-20-8, 74 points), 9:30 PM

The Blues have one home game this week before heading out west. They play two likely playoff opponents in the Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings, and the rebuilding San Jose Sharks. The Blues have not matched up well with the Kraken and Kings this season, who are both young and fast. It’s set to be another stressful week for Blues goaltenders, but fans can look forward to Kapanen’s debut this week. The schedule does get easier in March, so it’ll be interested to see how the Blues play through that stretch.

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