Blues Weekly: Tarasenko, Krug, 2022 Draft & Free Agency

The St. Louis Blues are about to embark on quite the journey this offseason with the various moves they’ll need to make. The draft was just the first step, when the free-agent market opens on July 13, the fun really begins.

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

It’s clear that general manager Doug Armstrong has a vision for this roster, and he isn’t willing to make certain moves to change it. An example of that is the unwillingness to pay goaltender Ville Husso, who he traded to the Detroit Red Wings. There was no way that the Blues would spend $4.75 million per season for him, and Armstrong knew that.

This offseason will mark a crucial point in the Blues’ current roster and Stanley Cup window. They have decisions to make for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, while also trying to infuse some youth into the roster with somebody like Jake Neighbours. Either way, Armstrong must be trusted to make the right moves for the franchise; last offseason with the acquisitions of Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad proved that.

Blues Looking into Trades for Tarasenko and Krug

It’s come out on Frank Seravalli’s trade targets board that the Blues have looked into the trade market for Torey Krug and that Vladimir Tarasenko still wants to be dealt. None of this is all that surprising to me after digesting it, but it could mark a major shift in the roster if one or both of those moves were to happen.

Torey Krug's 2021-22 RAPM Chart (courtesy: Evolving-Hockey)
Torey Krug’s 2021-22 RAPM Chart (courtesy: Evolving-Hockey)

As the analytics show, Krug is still a very good offensive defenseman. He had a great season for the Blues in 2021-22, but with Scott Perunovich emerging, it doesn’t hurt to check the market on him. Another factor here is the five years remaining on his contract, as well as five years left for Justin Faulk and eight for Colton Parayko. It’s hard to justify the Blues paying all three of those defensemen for that many seasons.

Krug had 43 points in 64 games last season and quarterbacked the second-best power-play in the league. His defensive numbers weren’t strong, but he’s not that much of a liability on that end. It has certainly helped him to have the Blues’ best defenseman as his partner, that being Faulk of course. It would be a bold move for the Blues to trade Krug and move to Perunovich, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. It may be hard to find a team that wants to take on that contract, but his numbers are still quite good.

Tarasenko had probably his best overall season in 2021-22 with a career-high 82 points. With just one year left on his contract at $7.5 million, the time to trade him is now. According to many reports, he still wants to be traded out of St. Louis and the Blues should honor that request in my view. That would free up cap space and allow the Blues to extend players like Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Ryan O’Reilly. It would also allow them to head into the free-agent market and look into adding a player like Andre Burakovsky or Ondrej Palat, two players who have Stanley Cup rings.

Related: 4 Reasons the Blues Should Trade Tarasenko

The Carolina Hurricanes make a lot of sense for Tarasenko, and the Blues could fetch a solid return. If Armstrong is looking for draft picks, there is no better place than the 2023 Draft to get them, as it could be as deep as any draft over the last decade. Getting a player in return for him makes sense, but I highly doubt the Hurricanes would move on from the likes of Seth Jarvis or Teuvo Teravainen in this deal. Either way, if he still wants out of St. Louis, the deal needs to be made this summer.

Blues Had a Solid Draft in Montreal

After trading the rights to Husso to Detroit, the Blues got another pick and made six picks instead of five at the draft. It started with forward Jimmy Snuggerud, who became the first American-born first-rounder by the Blues since Tage Thompson in 2016. He projects as a similar player to Neighbours, and it’s clear that the Blues have a type with these recent first-round picks.

Jimmy Snuggerud St. Louis Blues
Jimmy Snuggerud, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Snuggerud will get the chance to play with third overall pick Logan Cooley at the University of Minnesota during the 2022-23 season. His development should line up closely with the Blues’ 2021 first-round pick, Zachary Bolduc, and they will most likely be linemates at some point.

As for the other picks the Blues made, getting center Aleksanteri Kaskimaki and defenseman Michael Buchinger in the third round were fantastic selections. Both of them project as useful NHL players and that’s all you can ask for after the first round of a volatile draft like this. Kaskimaki had 40 points in 31 games for HIFK U20 in the U20 SM-sarja league and Buchinger was named to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) All-Rookie Team last season. Kaskimaki will be playing for HIFK in the Finnish Liiga in 2022-23. He played four games for them in 2021-22 and had two points, so he should be ready to make a big jump in his development this season.

It’s hard to say what they will get from their remaining picks with Arseni Koromyslov, Marc-Andre Gaudet, and Landon Sim, but that is the beauty of the draft. Regardless, the Blues came away with a solid class of prospects, with the first few picks really standing out.

Armstrong Will Be Active This Week

There is no doubt that Armstrong will be working the phones diligently this week. They have to figure out whether they will trade Tarasenko or Krug, and try to reach an agreement with David Perron. Perron hitting the open market is not ideal for the Blues, but that doesn’t end the possibility of retaining him. After that, he needs to find solutions with the defensive unit, which could mean trading Marco Scandella and finding a left-handed defenseman to pair with Parayko.

As is always the case, Armstrong must be trusted to make the right decisions. It wouldn’t shock me to see some surprising moves from the Blues in free agency, but the trade market is where they could be the most active as it should be quite robust on either end.

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