The St. Louis Blues had somewhat of an unexpected trade deadline. Expected to be major buyers ahead of the deadline specifically targetting a top 6 winger, the Blues did not acquire any of their acquired targets. Leading up to the deadline, the Blues have been on a losing streak that most could not have seen coming. It has taken them just out of a playoff spot and although the trade deadline would be the perfect time for general manager Doug Armstrong to fix his team, he instead made it harder for the Blues to make the playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues traded away a top six center in Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick, a conditional fourth-rounder in 2020, plus forward prospect Erik Foley. The return helped both teams in a sense as the Jets are now widely considered to have the best group of forwards in terms of skill and depth in the league, meanwhile, the Blues got a first round pick which is important because unless the pick becomes a top ten pick then it can be moved to 2019.
Besides acquiring a first round pick to make up for the one lost in the Brayden Schenn trade, the move was very surprising. Just a few weeks ago, the Blues were widely considered to be a team that could make a deep playoff run but now the playoffs don’t look to be a sure thing. The Blues were widely believed to be in need of a top six winger but they were not necessarily willing to give up to much of their future in order to mandate that trade which could be a reason why there was no deal for a winger.
Considering all of the wingers available on the market, it was widely assumed that the Blues would make a strong push for a top six winger. Wingers like Max Pacioretty, Patrick Maroon, Rick Nash, Evander Kane were all available at the trade deadline and not all of the prices were as big as expected.
Rick Nash was an expensive acquisition for the Boston Bruins but a younger and better player in Evander Kane was a cheap grab for the Sharks. The team’s management may have significantly ruined the chances of the team making the playoffs with this trade.
Although the only player the Blues lost was Paul Stastny, it is important to note his significance to the team. He assumed an important top six role for the team’s forward unit, slotting as the team’s number two center and someone who was relied on heavily on the powerplay.
By not acquiring a replacement for Stastny, the Blues seemingly lost a top six center for nothing that would help them get to the playoffs. Although the Blues could call up prospects like Tage Thompson from the AHL, it is hard to imagine that he would be able to fill in the void left by Stastny considering throughout his short NHL career, he only has 3 goals and 3 assists in 25 games with St. Louis.
A plausible reason for the suprising trade could have been because the Blues either had no interest or did not think they had a chance in re-signing the star forward as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. If the Blues just did not have any intent on re-singing the forward, it would make sense to trade him if management was sure the team could not make or do well in the playoffs this year.
This is because of the teams talented prospect pool. Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Klim Kostin, and even Nolan Stevens (if signed) could be ready to fill in center roles on the team as early as next season. Many scouts think that Robert Thomas is a player who could join the Blues as early as next year and potentially fill out Paul Stastny in the lineup.
The St. Louis Blues also have had some experience in losing star players to free agency. David Backes left the St. Louis Blues in free agency with no gain towards the Blues organization. They knew not to make the same mistake in the future when they knew a player was not going to resign which was why they traded Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals for draft picks and a prospect.
If the Blues had no intention to resign Paul Stastny or knew he would not re-sign then it would make sense for the team to trade him for a first-round pick, a talented prospect and conditional fourth-round draft pick.
Overall, there are many possibilities to why the Blues made the trade and it is still possible for the team to make the playoffs, but without Paul Stastny, their odds are slipping further and further away.