The 2013 season started extremely well for the St. Louis Blues. As we flipped the page on the calendar from January to February, the Blues held one of the NHL's best records of 6-1-0. Since then, there's been very few positives as the Blues rattled off five straight losses, several of which were of the blowout variety.
If you've watched the team's past few games, it's a mess. There's no intensity, no desperation and mental and physical errors from start to finish. Evidently, coach Ken Hitchcock's instructions have fallen on deaf ears.
Is it time for the St. Louis Blues to make a trade? They certainly could use some help at defense and, depending on Jaroslav Halak's health, a new face in net. Perhaps most importantly, the entire club needs a good old fashioned wake up call that a trade might provide.
Over the past few years, the Blues have run through their fair share of coaches. Andy Murray had the helm between 2006-2010 before making way for Davis Payne. Payne was never supposed to be the long-term solution, so current coach Ken Hitchcock was brought to the mix in 2011. For both Murray and Payne, the Blues were criticized for not playing hard. It was believed to be a leadership issue, not a player issue.
Under Hitchcock, the Blues have played spectacularly well - until the month of February. Now they're resembling the teams that gave minimal effort under both Murray and Payne. The team's core group of players is mostly unchanged since we saw the Blues turn in horrible effort after horrible effort under Andy Murray.
This is a worrisome trend. At some point the coaches no longer hold the responsibility for a team's effort. The Blues are on their third coach since 2010. Maybe the problem lies on the bench, not behind it.
That brings us back to the topic of a trade. The rumors are already circulating.
The Blues could certainly use some help at defense, but do the Philadelphia Flyers have a piece that could help? That's a highly debatable point. Still, the point here is that the Blues are actively scouting other teams and not just with their scouts. The Blues sent both their GM, Doug Armstrong, and their director of Pro Scouting, Rob DiMaio, to the Toronto / Philadelphia game on Monday night.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong and Director of Pro Scouting Rob DiMao are at the ACC taking in the Leafs-Flyers game.— Greg Thomson (@GregThomsonNHL) February 12, 2013
This might not lead to a trade between the Blues and Flyers, but the Blues did have some noteworthy individuals in attendance, especially when you consider the Blues were playing at home on the same night.
In a shortened season, timing is more important than ever before. In other seasons you may have been able to wait an additional game or two before pulling the trigger, but in the abbreviated 2013 campaign moves and changes need to be made promptly.
Will the St. Louis Blues make a deal in the near future? Several signs are pointing to "Yes". Stay tuned.
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@FrozenNotes Coburn for Stewart could work. Would go for Meszaros but he is injured so, in this short season We gotta go for another. Gross?
A few things to keep in mind here:
It was well known last season and in the offseason that the Blues were looking for a top pairing D to pair with Pietrangelo. Given the lack of defensive effort even in some of the wins this year, this desire has likely only intensified.
If the Blues had real faith in Jake Allen, Elliott's leash would've been shorter over the three games that Halak was out. Since both NHL goalies are on fairly reasonable to quite reasonable salary numbers, combined with what we might now fairly call an injury history with Halak, a move for a #1 goalie is possible. The bigger question would be "Who's that guy?" Given the current contract situation for the man, and for the team, respectively, I'll get a good chuckle at the expense of the first person who nominated Roberto Luongo.
The above said, the sky is not falling with Elliott. Yes, he's let in a handful of bad goals. What's making it look awful, however, is how his team is absolutely hanging him out to dry on back-door, cross-ice plays, and odd-man rushes. The Blues defense of these was stellar last year, and it's absolutely vanished this year. Add in the mass of undisciplined penalties, particularly in the offensive zone, and it doesn't get any better playing down a man for a third of a game or so.
All that said, aside from Tarasenko and Schwartz, who are in their first real year in the system, and Vladimir Sobotka, who tends to play like a man possessed, there's ample blame to attach pretty much anywhere you might care to point at the lineup. And there's plenty of skill, speed, and power in that lineup that another team might look at and say, "Hey, we can get more out of him than they're getting."
Prediction: Doug Armstrong makes the EJ/Shattenkirk trade with Colorado look even more lopsided in the Blues favor by moving Chris Stewart for a true top pairing lefty partner for Pietrangelo.
@miendiem That's a fun prediction to dissect. Stewart's contract and his improved play this year would make him a valued commodity. Teams were plenty interested last year and that was when he was playing well below the level we've seen of late.
Personally, I'm not sure who I'd deal. I've liked what Stewart has brought to the table and the fact he's been one of the most physical without drawing penalty after penalty (Backes) makes want to retain him.
@David Rogers I tend to agree with that, honestly, but it's in the nature of give something big to get something big. We'd be talking about a long-term top-pairing left-handed defenseman here, not flipping a power forward for peanuts. Who that LHD might be is more than I'd be willing to say - I never seem to guess Armstrong right in advance, anyway, and his track record so far speaks for itself.