One reason the St. Louis Blues struggled this past season was their lack of quality players in their top-six. If the Blues want to upgrade their center position this offseason which is believed to be their biggest need, the team must be willing to move some of their assets to do that. Some potential possibilities to fill that gap could range from the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly to the Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
In a mailbag segment, St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon writes that the most obvious trade asset the team has is on defense. The team is loaded there with captain Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson, an expected bounce-back season of veteran Jay Bouwmeester, and the improved play of rookie Vince Dunn. The most obvious trade chip would be Parayko, a promising draft pick back in 2012, who has put up three solid seasons, but hasn’t taken that next step into a star player. Already locked in for another four years at $5.5MM AAV, the team may still not be ready to move on from him as their expectations are high on him.
Gordon writes if the team decides to make Parayko off-limits to teams, then the team would have to consider moving other key assets such as Edmundson and Dunn as well as a few of their young forward prospects such as Tage Thompson, Klim Kostin and Samuel Blais as well as the Winnipeg Jets’ 2018 first-round pick which they got in the Paul Stastny deal. While the preference would be for the team not to trade off any of their talented prospects, if they want to upgrade their roster, the team must consider moving some of them. While the team has made Jordan Kyrou, who is coming off an elite season in juniors, and Robert Thomas, their 2017 first-round pick who has dominated in the junior playoffs, the team might have no choice but to consider using Thompson, Kostin or Blais to bait a team into a trade.
Edmundson will be a restricted free agent this summer and while he has been hampered by injuries, he’s proven to be an excellent defensive blueliner. Dunn had a great first season as well. Thompson, the team’s 2016 first-rounder, split time between the Blues and the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He could earn a bigger role next year, but scored just three goals in 41 games in the NHL last year. Kostin, the team’s other first-round pick in the 2017 draft, struggled adjusting to the North American game as an 18-year-old in the AHL, but is considered to have great skills. Blais also split time between leagues, but managed to get into just 11 games with the Blues.
However, the real question is what will they be willing to give up for a top-six center? Or is there another way to get one.