Despite multiple injuries for the St. Louis Blues this season, they are still one of the best teams in the league. They’ve lost Vladimir Tarasenko and Sammy Blais to longer term injuries. Alexander Steen missed some significant time as well. It’s a fairly well known fact that this team could use some more scoring, and the time to make it happen is approaching quickly.
All of this leads me to believe that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong might have something up his sleeve at the trade deadline. Multiple teams that are out of contention have plenty to offer the Blues.
Los Angeles Kings’ forward Tyler Toffoli has had a very up and down career in terms of scoring. In the 2019-20 season, he has 24 points in 43 games with just 11 goals. He has been a productive scorer in the past, posting 23 goals in 2014-15, and following that up with 31 in 2015-16. Let’s also not forget that he’s still just 27 years old.
While he’s listed as a center on Hockey-Reference, he has only taken 7 faceoffs this season and has lost all of them. With that said, head coach Craig Berube could put him on a wing with one of the Blues’ dynamic centers and hope he can find some of that goal-scoring prowess that we’ve seen in the past.
In terms of his contract, his 2019-20 cap hit is $4.6 million and he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season. With him likely being a rental, the Blues should not have to break the bank to acquire him.
A realistic offer could be a second or third-round pick and a low-level prospect, or multiple picks outside of the first round.
This one would surprise me, but with the Anaheim Ducks struggling mightily, it could happen. There have been some rumors regarding Anaheim potentially looking to move Ondrej Kase.
The 23-year-old winger has been having a very down season, posting 3 goals and 11 assists for 14 points in 36 games. He has shown some goal-scoring upside in his career, though, as he notched 20 goals in 2017-18. Other than that, he’s struggled a lot with Anaheim.
Maybe a change of scenery and pairing Kase with better linemates can help him get back to where he was just a couple of seasons ago. The Blues are a team that can offer that too.
He’s making $2.6 million this year and next year before he becomes a restricted free agent after the 2020-21 season. His cap hit is extremely affordable and could be a bargain if he can get back to the days of scoring 20-plus goals. The Ducks would likely ask for a pick and a player for Kase, which isn’t steep for what he could provide.
Last but not least is one of the hottest rentals available, New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider. This is the guy that I think makes the absolute most sense for the Blues. He plays with an edge and can make plays at both ends of the ice. He has power and some skill too.
He is 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds, so he’s got the size to be a good two-way player. Clearly, Berube likes players who play well at both ends of the ice, and Kreider provides that.
Not only can he play both ends well, but he’s also scored 28 goals twice in his career and surpassed 20 goals two other times as well. In the 2019-20 season, he has posted 12 goals and 14 assists, which is good for 26 points in 41 games.
Kreider’s cap hit for this season is sitting at $4.625 million, and it should be mentioned that he has an 11-team no-trade list as part of his modified no-trade clause. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t want to wear a Blue Note for a few months, as it has been reported that he has every Canadian team on his no-trade list. (from ‘John Tortorella’s nonsensical fine reeks of NHL hypocrisy,’ New York Post, 01/05/2020)
Armstrong has a strong trade record over the past few years and acquiring a player like Kreider for another potential Cup run could add to that. I think he could get it done with a pick and a mid-level prospect as it would likely be a pure rental.
Regardless of who Armstrong pursues, look for it to be an impact player who won’t cost a ton in assets to acquire. The Blues are currently first in the Central Division, with a five-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche. They may have had a lengthy playoff run in 2019, but there doesn’t appear to be a Stanley Cup hangover, and Armstrong needs to take advantage of that in order to best prepare the Blues for another lengthy playoff run.