Due to the initial plan for the NHL to have an Olympic break in February, the league pushed back the trade deadline to the end of March. As we all know by now, NHL players are not participating in the Beijing Olympics, though the trade deadline date remains March 21. With plenty of hockey to be played between now and then, it can be hard to forecast what the deadline activity could look like. For the St. Louis Blues, sitting comfortably in a playoff position, the next month should be about doing whatever it takes to put this team over the top.
The team’s most glaring need is on defense. It is believed that acquiring a top-four defenseman is GM Doug Armstrong’s top priority and it is hard to argue with that thinking. While the Blues offense has been among the league’s best all season, the defense has left a lot to be desired at times. While the forward group is deep, Armstrong is known for pulling off surprises, so adding up top cannot be ruled out either. Let’s take a look at some names the Blues should be taking a hard look at in the next month.
Jakob Chychrun, defenseman
Perhaps the player that could command the largest return at the deadline, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun could be the missing piece to the Stanley Cup puzzle for the Blues. At the young age of 23, Chychrun has asserted himself as a legitimate top-four defenseman that can provide elite offense on top of stability defensively. A left-handed shot, Chychrun would slot in perfectly next to Colton Parayko on the top pairing. Parayko, who has struggled defensively this season, could benefit greatly from some stability from his partner, as the left side on the top pair has been a revolving door all season. There will be no shortage of suitors for Chychrun’s services, so Armstrong will have to get creative in order to pull a deal of this magnitude off.
Claude Giroux, forward
The longtime captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, Claude Giroux looks destined to move on from a team in need of a rebuild. At 34 years old, Giroux will certainly look to make a move to a Stanley Cup contender. It’s been reported that the Colorado Avalanche are Giroux’s preferred destination, but the Blues, as well as the Minnesota Wild, are both appealing options for the seven-time All-Star. While the Blues do not have a glaring need up top, Giroux’s ability to play both center and wing could give the Blues lineup flexibility down the stretch. Add in the fact that if the Blues do not acquire Giroux, he is most likely going to be dealt to a direct rival, then all of a sudden a move seems all that more likely.
Ben Chiarot, defenseman
Again looking into the defenseman market, Ben Chiarot is sure to be on the move before the trade deadline. The Montreal Canadiens are a certified dumpster fire and with a new regime in place, will be looking to offload as many contracts as possible in the next month as they prepare for what looks to be a lengthy rebuild. At the age of 30, Chiarot can be a steady presence on the back end, which is exactly what St. Louis is in need of. While Chiarot does not provide as much offensive upside as Chychrun, he should cost significantly less in a trade. If the Chychrun market gets too expensive for Armstrong’s liking, Chiarot could be a great alternative to help fix the Blues’ defensive woes.
With a little over a month to go until the NHL’s trade deadline, so much can change. Injuries can occur, weaknesses can turn to strengths, strengths can turn to weaknesses. As things stand, the Blues are considered buyers at the trade deadline with left-handed defensemen being the target area. Armstrong is considered one of the best general managers in the game in navigating the trade market, so expect to see some activity between now and March 21.
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