While the Blues are believed to be looking for help up front with injuries to Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, it doesn’t appear that they will be looking to go the rental route to add to their roster. In an appearance on Sportsnet 590 (audio link), GM Doug Armstrong acknowledged that he would prefer to go after a player with term left on his contract:
“I don’t think we’ll be in the rental market. Anything can change on that but I think if we’re going to make changes, we’re going to do it with someone who can come in and help us for a couple years at least.”
Given that St. Louis has minimal salary cap space to work with (when Schwartz and Zachary Sanford return, they’ll have minimal potential for LTIR usage – just Fabbri’s $894K cap hit), it has been speculated that a rental may make more sense for them where the other team involved could retain salary. While it’s certainly still an option for a trading team to retain on a player signed beyond this season, those trades aren’t typically as common and often require a bigger return going the other way.
Unless they can find someone willing to retain on a contract for more than this season, the Blues will have to move out some money in a trade. One possible candidate to move would be defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who has seen his role diminish considerably in recent years and they could certainly get better value from his $2.9MM deal that runs through 2018-19.
In an interview on Sportsnet 960 (audio link), Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman links the Blues to Senators winger Mike Hoffman. Hoffman has two more years remaining on his contract with a cap hit just under $5.2MM but would certainly represent a boost to their top-six. He does, however, have a ten-team no-trade clause and it’s not known if St. Louis is on there or not.
Because of the financial considerations, it seems more likely that any move that gets made will come closer to the trade deadline even if that means waiting out Schwartz’s injury (he’s expected to miss another four-to-five weeks). However, it now appears that the trade, whenever it gets done, is more likely to involve someone who can help over the longer-term.