While the St. Louis Blues will try to find elite franchise players in the draft held from June 26th-27th in Sunrise, Florida, they’ll also be on the hunt for talented forwards due to the cost of current players. Young guns on the roster have earned pay raises, which means the available cap space will be reduced rather significantly.
At the forefront of these young talents is 23 year old Vladimir Tarasenko. In 175 NHL games, he’s accumulated 135 points (66G, 69A) and boasts an impressive plus-minus of plus-48. Although he’ll be a restricted free agent come July 1st, the inevitable cap space Tarasenko will require is sure to make general manager Doug Armstrong’s job more difficult.
A question mark in regards for next season’s cap is Paul Stastny. As last off-season’s most coveted free agent, Stastny chose to sign a four-year, $28 million contract with the Blues, making his seasonal cap hit a team-high $7 million. In his first season in St. Louis, the Quebec City native played in 74 games and scored 46 points (16G, 30A).
For his first year in the new system Stastny performed rather well; however, if his production doesn’t increase he could be on his way out to make room for other players’ salaries.
After coming into the limelight during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia for his unbelievable shootout skills, Oshie has been producing a consistent amount. While consistency is great in professional sports, producing the same amount offensively year after year is not.
At just over $4 million a season Oshie, would be a good trade option to shed some cap. However, moving him would disappoint Blues fans being that he’s a fan favorite.
The captain of the Blues has come under scrutiny after the team has failed to turn their regular season successes into legitimate playoff runs. Backes has played his entire 648 game NHL career with St. Louis, and has developed into one of the faces of the modern franchise.
Under his current contract, he will remain a Blue Note until the completion of next season, costing $4.5 million in cap space. His leadership abilities aren’t as clear-cut as they once were and he, as well as the Blues, might benefit from a change of scenery.
Lastly, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo could be dealt because of his $6.5 million cap hit. Drafted fourth overall in the 2008 Entry Draft by St. Louis, he has appeared in 386 games for the club. Last season Pietrangelo had a plus-minus of minus-2, which is only the second time is his career he wasn’t plus, the last being in 2009-2010 when he was minus-9 in the nine games he played that season.
Despite his being a big part of the Blues team, Pietrangelo would get a great return in a trade, seeing that most NHL teams are desperate for talented, experienced defenders.
It is important to note that just because players have high cap hits, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be dealt. That being said, if Armstrong wanted to keep the majority of the roster in tact, they would be the most vulnerable to be traded.
As with anything in the NHL nothing is for certain, so let the waiting games begin.