NHL Rumors: The St. Louis Blues Dominate the NHL Rumor Mill

NHL Rumors: The St. Louis Blues Dominate the NHL Rumor Mill

There has been plenty of talk about the St. Louis Blues in the NHL rumor mill.

Nearly a month after replacing Mike Yeo as head coach with Craig Berube, the St. Louis Blues are showing few signs of improvement.

Prior to Yeo’s firing, the Blues were second-last in the Western Conference with a record of seven wins, nine losses, and three overtime losses for 17 points. They’re 5-6-1 under Berube and sit third-last in with 28 points.

The Blues’ ongoing struggles are making them the focus of increasing trade speculation.

In late-November, it was assumed general manager Doug Armstrong was in the market for a season-saving deal. Given the inconsistency of starting goaltender Jake Allen, reports emerged claiming Armstrong was shopping around for help between the pipes.

On Nov. 27. TSN’s Darren Dreger cited sources claiming the Blues paid “considerable attention” to Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Several days later, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jim Thomas cast doubt over the Blues pursuing Howard. He considered it something a team in playoff contention would do and that’s not where the Blues are in the standings.

Most of the recent Blues’ trade chatter has Armstrong considering a roster shakeup. The conjecture centers on several of their core players.

Speculation over Vladimir Tarasenko‘s future with the Blues began soon after the coaching change. On Nov. 21,  Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the organization had at times become frustrated with the 27-year-old winger’s performance since signing his eight-year, $60-million contract in July 2015. However, Friedman added no one on the club spoke about it on the record and Tarasenko’s name never came up in a trade rumor.

On Saturday, Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos said Tarasenko remains an interesting topic of discussion. The winger’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1 and some clubs are wondering what the Blues will do. Kypreos feels Taransenko could be a “Phil Kessel-type” who could be a great supporting player and wondered if a team in need of scoring, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, might come calling.

NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty proposed the Boston Bruins make a bold move and acquire Tarasenko, considering him a good fit on the David Krejci line. Haggerty acknowledged the Blues’ asking price could be young winger Jake DeBrusk and either Torey Krug or Charlie McAvoy as part of the return.

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo also became a hot topic of media trade discussion. On Dec. 8,  Kypreos said teams were making inquiries about the 28-year-old defenseman, though he didn’t think Armstrong was shopping him.

Kypreos believed the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the clubs with interest in Pietrangelo. He suggested the Leafs try offering up blueliner Nikita Zaitsev in a package offer that might also include a draft pick, a prospect and a young, fast player such as Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson.

Several days later, Friedman guessed the Blues may have included Pietrangelo in discussions with the Leafs about William Nylander but the Leafs decided to keep the winger. Pietrangelo has just one year remaining on his contract and the Leafs’ preference could be for a blueliner with significant term still on his deal.

The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun reminded everyone that Pietrangelo has a full no-trade clause and there’s no indication he wants to leave St. Louis. Meanwhile, his colleague Jeremy Rutherford took to Twitter to dismiss an erroneous report attributed to him claiming Armstrong had informed teams that all his players, including Tarasenko and Pietrangelo, were available.

Pietrangelo isn’t the only Blues defenseman being bandied about as a possible trade chip. On Dec. 8, the Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch reported teams were calling about Colton Parayko, who’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million.

Parayko topped TSN’s updated NHL trade-bait board last week. Frank Seravalli believes teams will line up for the 25-year-old rearguard, who could fetch a solid return for the Blues.

Meanwhile, Darren Dreger recently said there’s a sense Armstrong doesn’t want to part with any of his young core pieces. In other words, he’s willing to consider moving a veteran or two but his youngsters are out of bounds.

Despite the notable Blues popping up as possible trade candidates, the media consensus is Armstrong is willing to entertain trade proposals but he’s not actively shopping anyone yet. Just because he might consider a major trade doesn’t mean he’s going to pull the trigger.

Assuming Armstrong does move someone such as Tarasenko, Pietrangelo, or Parayko, he’ll want a substantial return. Those aren’t players you just give away for a package of draft picks and prospects. A good young roster player will have to be part of the deal.

Trading a core player is typically an offseason move as that’s when teams have more salary-cap room and a willingness to invest in expensive talent. If Tarasenko, Pietrangelo or Parayko get moved, it’ll likely happen in late-June or early July.

Rather than shipping out one of his stars, perhaps Armstrong considers moving one of his lesser lights who lacks no-trade protection. Center Brayden Schenn could fall into that category. If he opts to move a player with a no-trade clause, a pending UFA such as Patrick Maroon or Jay Bouwmeester could hit the trade block.