The St. Louis Blues may look to make moves today as the NHL’s 3:00 PM ET trade deadline approaches, but one thing is all but certain: they won’t be parting with prized prospect Jordan Kyrou.
That hasn’t been a sure thing over the past several months, as negotiations for top rentals like Taylor Hall and, more recently, Chris Kreider have reportedly centered on Kyrou. Of course, any team would love to pry him from general manager Doug Armstrong’s protective grasp. But the last several games have been the best of Kyrou’s young NHL career, and it now seems all but guaranteed that he isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he might just be the very impact forward the Blues are looking for.
Kyrou’s Climb to the Top
The Blues drafted Kyrou in the second round of the 2016 Draft, and since then, he’s seen a meteoric rise as a prospect. Wearing an “A” for the Sarnia Sting, he collected 94 points in 66 games in the 2016-17 season following his draft year. In the following campaign, he had 109 points in 59 games.
That season, he earned OHL first All-Star recognition, in addition to the Jim Mahon Trophy for the OHL’s top-scoring right winger, and the Red Tilson Trophy for the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player. That same season, he scored three goals and seven assists, winning gold for Team Canada — with fellow Blues prospect Robert Thomas — at the World Junior Championship. He was ready to make the jump to the American Hockey League (AHL) the following season.
But Kyrou wasn’t bound for the AHL, at least not immediately. Due to some untimely injuries and a strong training camp, he made the Blues’ opening night roster in the 2018-19 season. He struggled to establish himself at the NHL level though — despite scoring his first goal with the Blues in December — and spent most of the season with the San Antonio Rampage. There, he had almost a point per game, with 43 points in 47 games.
Shelved late in the season with an injury, Kyrou returned to the AHL late in October this season, and it was only a matter of time before the Blues called him up. He was an obvious option to replace the injured Vladimir Tarasenko when healthy, and he was eventually called up, playing his first game on Dec. 10.
Struggle, Then Success Under Berube
But it wasn’t an immediate success in his second NHL stint. Kyrou struggled to impress head coach Craig Berube, and had just four points in his first 18 games. Though the Blues told him to look for permanent housing, he was not totally established. Berube scratched Kyrou on Feb. 8, then had a lengthy conversation with his young forward at practice on Feb. 10.
Since then, though, Kyrou has looked like an entirely different player. He recorded an assist in the opening minutes of the Blues game against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11, immediately after that talk. A few minutes later, though, Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench and the game was postponed. The point will still count for Kyrou when the game is rescheduled on March 11.
On Feb. 20, Kyrou had what Berube called his best game as a Blue. He has four points in the last seven games, including a goal in each of his last two games. He scored from an extreme angle against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday after finishing a breakaway that showcased his elite speed and skill against the Dallas Stars on Friday.
Now that he’s fully established in the Blues lineup, the top-six forward that Armstrong reportedly might be looking for at the deadline may already be in house. The sky is the limit for Kyrou, and right now, he seems to be taking off.
Armstrong’s Deadline Plans
Armstrong may have already made his biggest move of the deadline, trading for Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens early last week. He has openly stated that his deadline plans revolve somewhat around the timing of Tarasenko’s return. That is primarily because the Blues can the cap space provided by Tarasenko’s presence on long-term injured reserve only as long as remains there. If he returns after the playoffs begin, there is no salary cap. In the meantime, if the Blues cannot afford an upgrade, Kyrou looks primed to be a terrific stopgap.
Kyrou has an incredibly bright future in the NHL. The Blues would be foolish to trade that away for a temporary roster boost. There have been times this season where it seemed more likely, but now that he is rounding into NHL form, Kyrou is the Blues’ secret weapon at the trade deadline.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.