Blues Eyeing Another D-man?
If you pay attention to Blues GM Doug Armstrong it’s obvious he doesn’t like to sit back and watch. Every day this guy is trying to find ways to improve the St. Louis Blues and he’ll continue to do so leading up to the NHL trade deadline.
Sure everyone wants to get into the playoffs but for most NHL teams, their goals go beyond just reaching the post-season.
The ultimate goal is winning it all and every GM should be focused on putting together the most competitive roster their resources will allow. It takes a little more creativity to manage the Blues compared to some of the higher revenue teams in the league. Finding ways to improve your club can sometimes be easier said than done.
Making a coaching change may be the best trade a team a make. It certainly has become an easier and more affordable alternative to making a player trade.
Armstrong scouts other NHL teams as much as any GM out there. This is why people get all alarmed when he’s spotted watching Toronto play Boston or Pittsburgh battle Washington as he recently has. You just never know where he might pop up.
If you look around the NHL there are a few things the best teams tend to have in common. They’re deep up the middle and they have at least three legitimate, quality NHL D-men who can play in all situations.
Are the Blues equipped defensively to make a run?
Sure they have some players currently developing into top NHL D-men in Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Both players are relatively “green” though when you compare them to the top defenseman playing for San Jose, Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and Vancouver.
Many of the top coaches and GM’s in the league believe you need three D-men who can each play 25:00 quality, productive minutes every night in the playoffs. All of the above mentioned teams certainly have that.
This is why San Jose made the trade with Minnesota and brought over Brent Burns and why Chicago didn’t allow Niklas Hjalmarsson to get away a few summers ago.
Multiple sources tell me Armstrong will likely eye another D-man before the trade deadline. Landing a defenseman who can eat a ton of minutes and play in all situations is likely what the Blues will covet. If the Blues are successful in landing a true experienced D-man they would set themselves up very nicely.
This player may not become available until we get closer to the deadline. If Armstrong can locate a team looking to dump a salary don’t be shocked if the Blues add a defenseman sometime down the line.
You can’t go into the last month of the season hoping certain guys can handle the pressure of playing when the temperature is turned up. Identifying a player who has been there before and has had success could be just what the Blues need moving forward.
The Blues defense has played very well this season. They lead the NHL is shots allowed and have contributed to goaltender Brian Elliott having the season he's enjoying. It simply comes down to putting the club in the best possible position to win.
How deep are the Blues up the middle?
That’s what they’re finding out right now. Part of the reasoning behind moving Vladimir Sobotka back to center is so the organization can evaluate if they’re deep enough at the center position. Adding Sobotka to a David Backes and Patrik Berglund may leave the Blues in good shape as we move ahead.
Look at the best teams in the NHL and they can all go three deep up the middle. Once we get late into the season and especially into the playoffs the NHL becomes a three line game.
Blues fans can expect Armstrong to explore all options in an effort to ensure his club is in the best position to compete for a playoff spot.
Collectively Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo have combined for 224 career NHL games. D-man Kent Huskins is often described as a veteran D-man and although he does have post-season experience he’s only appeared in 283 regular season games. That’s less than 24 year old Kris Russell who recently hit the 300 game mark. Barret Jackman leads the way for the Blues with 546 career games followed by Carlo Colaiacovo who has appeared in 322. Combined the Blues group of D-men have appeared in 71 total post-season games with Huskins accounting for 47 of them.
Sources indicate this past week Matt Hulsizer gave a presentation to several banks as he looks to shore up his financing in an effort to beat the December 31st deadline Commissioner Gary Bettman personally handed down.
Multiple sources tell me they have tentatively set the closing date for December 23rd but with the understanding that date may be hard to meet. Regardless, the Hulsizer camp is confident they will beat the clock and eventually get this done before the end of the month.
Sources say Hulsizer would approve adding another player before the trade deadline.
Speaking of Huskins, it’s been three weeks since he had his foot surgery and he could be cleared to begin skating in another three weeks from now. He remains on crutches and in a walking boot. He is still on the eight week timetable he was given at the time of his surgery.
Updates on D’Agostini and Sobotka are in the San Jose story.
As I reported a few days ago, Andy McDonald appears to be turning the corner as he continues to recover form a October 13th concussion.
More to come,
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