(HockeyStl) -- It’s been a good week for the St. Louis Blues. The team’s goal heading into the deadline was to bolster their blueline by adding a left-handed defenseman that can play top minutes. General Manager Doug Armstrong went above and beyond, landing two solid defensemen and transforming the Blues’ blueline in only three days.
On Saturday, Armstrong traded for 32-year-old Jordan Leopold, who played in his first game with the Blues on Monday. The Blues viewed the Leopold trade as a good move that added to their depth, but they weren’t yet satisfied with their roster.
On Monday, Armstrong broke the news during the Blues’ game against the Minnesota Wild that the club had acquired Jay Bouwmeester from the Calgary Flames, a move that instantly made the Blues’ defense one of the league’s best. What is most impressive is the fact that both Leopold and Bouwmeester were acquired using only draft picks and prospects, which is what Armstrong had been hoping to do in order to keep the Blues’ core intact. It was a very successful three days for Armstrong and the Blues, but as Armstrong will point out, the phones don’t stop ringing until 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday.
It appears to be pretty unlikely that the Blues make a huge splash on Wednesday. The club is more than happy with where they stand. Currently, the Blues have quality depth at both the forward and defensive positions. The team is not on the lookout for another big-name player. However, Armstrong will be listening to proposals if any are sent his way.
The team’s two acquisitions over the weekend have made some players expendable. The two defensemen that will likely draw some interest around the league are Ian Cole and Kris Russell. Both Cole and Russell could be available for the right price as the Blues may look to replenish some of the picks they have lost this season in dealings.
Cole, 24, has been just okay for the Blues in a season in which he was expected to become an everyday defenseman. Cole has been a healthy scratch in all but 15 of the Blues’ games this season. With the price for NHL defensemen high, Cole could fetch some quality draft picks if the Blues wish to deal him.
Russell, 26, is an offensive-minded defenseman with quality puck-moving skills and good speed. While he may not draw as many suitors as Cole, he would still likely bring a nice return for the Blues.
Both Russell and Cole are restricted-free agents after this season so it would certainly be conceivable that the Blues are willing to part with one, if not both of the defensemen.
Also don’t completely rule out the Blues trading away a forward. The Blues are not believed to be actively shopping any of their forwards, but certainly expect the Blues to listen to offers. The Blues like their core group, but the team will have some tough decisions this coming offseason and if they get a solid offer for a forward on Wednesday, you can expect Armstrong to pull the trigger.
As for further acquisitions ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun points out the Note may be interested in acquiring a gritty, bottom-six forward. Right now, the Blues and head coach Ken Hitchcock like the Blues’ bottom two lines, but the team also lacks some toughness to go with their wealth of skill. A bottom-line forward would not be expensive and could certainly help the team if they find themselves in the playoffs.
Overall, it could be a slow deadline day for the Blues and the NHL in general. Most of the business has been done in the days leading up to the deadline. Thanks to new ownership and Doug Armstrong’s astute trading, the Blues are in a great position moving forward not only for this season, but for seasons to come.