The St. Louis Blues Could Need A Shakeup


The St. Louis Blues have won one game in their last six. If you believe goaltending is the problem, please turn your head in either direction and extend a cheek for me to reach through the “interwebs” and out of your screen to give you a virtual slapping. I’m kidding… but seriously, upon Brian Elliott‘s return last night, he turned away 44 of 47 shots, giving him a .936 save percentage on the evening. So please excuse me when I say that dog is too tired to be walked. Some will tell you it’s too early in the season to panic. Others, including myself, will tell you the Tarot Cards are starting to read an all too familiar fortune.

It’s more than just losing a handful of games. It’s who the Blues lost to, and the people responsible for the losses. The team has now lost season series with the Kings and the Predators. That’s two teams that the Blues will have a very good chance of meeting in the playoffs, if they can even make it that far.

Furthermore, in roughly two months the trade deadline hits, and then it’s too late for changes. Whenever a team goes on an extended losing streak, you almost certainly need to look at the core. Granted, goaltending has been shaky since Elliott suffered his injury, but the problems lay deeper than that. Monday night’s game should have exposed that for you. Some nights it looks like the defense is the problem, and other nights you may blame more on the offense. What is consistent in either scenario is the core.  You have to look at the guys getting the most playing time when you’re constantly losing. Sure, you can put some blame on coach Ken Hitchcock too, but when you look at the bigger picture, Hitchcock has a pretty good track record. The core players don’t, at least in the postseason.

When you look at players like Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and Alex Steen, you see the big part of our core. You see players that have led this team in a handful of early exits in postseason play. You can’t pin the early exits on only one player or position. Only the core. To say that the entire core is wholeheartedly bad would be unfair, too.

Maybe the Blues just lack a spark. To be honest, myself, I hate to point a finger in one direction and say “it’s this, and only this”. There just seems to be a lack of “oomph”.  Since there’s no way for me to blame any one thing, the best thing to do is to start shaking up the roster, and I don’t mean trade Patrik Berglund for Loui Eriksson or send Magnus Paajarvi to the Wolves. Because that’s not making us Stanley Cup contenders, and believe me, we’re not contenders right now.

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Paul Stastny was supposed to add some offensive punch to our performance. That hasn’t been done yet, not on a consistent basis, anyway. Some say if the Blues brought in a right winger to pair with Stastny, that it could remedy the situation. I don’t disagree with that, but Berglund alone is not going to get us a return of someone that will mesh with Stastny that much better or change the direction that the team is going in.

I have a scenario that works well in my head. So hear me out, and let me explain. First and foremost, let go of the sentimental attachment you have to certain players on the team. The NHL is and always will be a business, and business is best when you hoist the Stanley Cup. You also have a certain, annoying, budget called a salary cap that will not go away. It’s something the Note will end up having problems with come this offseason if it’s not nipped in the bud soon. Now I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know which general managers would trade which players, but I do know what I would be looking to land and how to do it, killing multiple birds with one stone.

The Blues need to make some cap space for the players that we need to resign in the offseason, including Vladimir Tarasenko. It’s feared the cap will not be going up, as was originally expected, so a couple of players with hefty paychecks will probably be leaving by the offseason anyway.

If I were the man in charge, I’d look to try to package Oshie, Berglund, and perhaps Carl Gunnarsson to go after a highly skilled winger. The reason this makes sense to me is because Petteri Linbohm and Chris Butler are valuable options on defense. I like Gunnarson, but he can be replaced with players already on the team who are currently fighting for playing time and making much less. Trading Ian Cole doesn’t clear very much off the books, which is why I’d just keep him as the seventh option.

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By trading Oshie and Berglund in that same package, that could give the Blues some heavy leverage on landing a top-notch winger. That would also make room for Dmitrij Jaskin, who has done extremely well, to find his permanent spot on the Blues. Of course, the player that the Blues got back in return would replace Oshie.

Gunnarson, Oshie, and Berglund are set to take up roughly $11.5 million next season. For the right return you could give the core a much-needed shakeup and clear a few million to help deal with the salary cap.

Please don’t argue that it’s too early to start worrying about a losing streak here and there. Like I said previously, in about two months the trade deadline hits, and then it’s way too late. There are so many different variables that could work out. All I’m trying to say is that I’m losing faith that the current core believes in itself anymore.

Something is wrong, changes need to be made and are undoubtedly coming next season with prospects like Jaskin, Lindbohm, and Robby Fabbri all scratching at the door for spots on the roster. Do you put blind faith in the same players that have failed us more than a few times now for another season? Or do you stop fighting the winds of change and let the sails take the boat in the direction that it’s going to end up going anyway? I for one would feel better making some changes now.

Either way, I’ve bled blue my entire life and will continue to do so regardless of what the Blues do. I just really want a year where I’m not banging my head into a wall in late April/early May.

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