Doug Armstrong Makes the Selling Move

A week ago, one of the biggest questions in St. Louis was “to buy or sell?” Fans looked to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong to show the team and the city whether the organization would push themselves out of a six-game losing streak and make a run at a playoff spot, or whether we should look to the coming years for the hope of a successful season.

Being in the middle of the worst slump since 2010, there weren’t many moves that would’ve been thought of as surprises. With a number of veterans whose recent performances have been short of acceptable, along with a promising list of top prospects that could be used to barter, Armstrong made it known that the right deal would be considered if it came along.

Paul Stastny was thought of as far from untouchable when thinking of selling, yet it still seemed to come as a slight shock when the top-six forward waived his no-trade clause and was sent to Winnipeg right before the deadline.

Four Short Years for Stastny

Paul Stastny is in his final year of a four-year contract, after signing with the Blues in 2014. The city celebrated his homecoming in true St. Louis fashion, as he grew up playing hockey in St. Louis. His father, Peter Stastny, played 23 games for the Blues before retiring in 1995.

Armstrong trades Paul Stastny
Paul Stastny was signed by the Blues on July 1, 2014. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Paul Stastny quickly became a favorite among both the fans and his teammates. “You know we’ve become really close. His family, my family – we live across the street from each other. That’s definitely the tough part of the business. The guy’s my best friend, and it’s tough,” says Blues forward Alexander Steen.

In exchange for Stastny, St. Louis acquired prospect Erik Foley, along with a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Foley is currently a scoring-minded winger at Providence College and is a strong asset to add to the organization’s future.

The Right Move?

Some question whether Armstrong made the right decision in giving up Stastny, and some question whether he could’ve done more before the deadline hit. Armstrong admits he would not have thought about giving up Stastny, or probably any of his linemates, if not for the level of play from most of the team the last couple of weeks. He also hinted at wanting to turn the newly acquired first-round pick into another deal, but it seemed that another favorable deal didn’t come along.

Because of the trade, St. Louis adds to its list of prospects, which includes Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin, Tage Thompson and Jordan Kyrou. This shows that the front office is now looking to the future with these young guys, instead of scraping together what’s left of this season. The Blues will now have a first-round pick this summer, along with cap space, that could help garner some crucial off-season moves.

Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou
BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 26: Jordan Kyrou (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

The Blues Look to the Future

If there were any initial questions about Armstrong’s move, they were quieted after the Blues’ next two games.

The team was able to break the scoring drought on Tuesday in Minnesota and seemed to have a chance to fly home with a win, until the second period started coming to a close. The defense began to collapse once again, and St. Louis let up one goal after another, losing to the Wild with a score of 8-3.

Playing again at home the next night, the Blues held on tightly to an early lead and were able to break the losing streak, topping the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. While it was definitely a relief to finally get a win, it was still not a confident level of play or a solid game for the Blues, by any means.

These last two matchups have proven that one addition would not solve the problems with this St. Louis team. Players across every line have talked about a disconnection on the ice, resulting in poor performances from some of the top players early in the season.

With the win over the Red Wings on Wednesday night, the Blues are now one game behind the Ducks for the second wildcard spot.

While the playoffs are still a reality for this team, they have proven in the second half of this season that more hope should be given to the coming years. And with Stastny’s contract ending after this season, there’s always a possibility of another homecoming.