Seriously, hockey gods, it's no longer funny. First you took out Carlo Colaiacovo with a concussion. Then it was Roman Polak on a freak play. The St. Louis Blues' underrated defender cut his wrist so badly that surgery was required. Later, in an early-November game against San Jose, the Blues lost Barret Jackman to a knee injury and David Perron to a concussion. A few games later, T.J. Oshie was the man down after breaking his ankle. On Saturday against Edmonton, the Blues not only lost the game but lost Andy McDonald to a concussion.
It's not even January and the Blues have lost three of their top-six forwards and three of their top-six defenseman.
As a result of the injuries, the Blues are bruised, battered and depleted. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has made so many calls to Peoria for reinforcements that they probably think he's been pocket-dialing them by mistake.
The AHLers have exposed the fact that the Blues have little to no NHL-ready depth. Dave Scatchard? Really? No thanks. Stefan Della Rovere has a great name, but his game is of the grinder variety. He has potential to be a solid player, but he can't help out the struggling offense.
Once the McDonald diagnosis became public, many fans over at Game Time (and elsewhere we dare not tread), suggested it was time for Armstrong to make a deal. The offense needed an injection of skill and, without a real first line, the time was now to make a move.
The fact of the matter is the Blues are not in a position to make a trade of any significance. The problem the Blues have is a lack of offense. A second- or third-line player isn't going to get the job done. The Blues need a top-flight player. Those don't come cheap.
To get a bona-fide offensive igniter, the Blues will have to part with something of value. If Armstrong wants to improve the team, he obviously can't subtract from the NHL roster. That means he can't move either Alex Pietrangelo or Erik Johnson—the Blues' biggest assets.
Down on the farm, the Blues' biggest trade bait would have to be the goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Jake Allen. Both are playing great this season for the Rivermen and both project well by people who seem to know things. The problem is, Bishop is the No. 3 goaltender. If Jaroslav Halak or Ty Conklin get hurt, and they are next on the hockey-god hit-list, Bishop will be in St. Louis.
On top of that, Bishop and Allen are both nice insurance policies for the future. Conklin's deal is up after this year and Halak has a very short track record. Jaro could still end up being a huge bust, and at that point the Blues would need a homegrown, hometown giant in the pipes. Realistically, trading Allen or Bishop is out of the question.
So what could the Blues do? The could do what they did last year and trade a marginal prospect for a marginal player—Aaron Palushaj to Montreal for Matt D'Agostini—but that really doesn't provide much offensive punch.
Basically, the NHL roster is untouchable and the AHL roster doesn't have high-end talent outside the goal. The only really good prospects are last year's first-round draft picks, but no one can accurately project what those players will become.
Armstrong can either trade someone of great value for a band-aid or mortgage the future. His only other option is to punt on the season. Without Perron, Oshie, McDonald and Polak for the foreseeable future, the Blues are destined to take a tumble in the standings. Armstrong could trade guys like Brad Boyes and the rejuvenated Eric Brewer for draft picks and prospects. The ultimate goal is to win the Cup, and if you can't do that, why not prepare for next season—and beyond?
What would I like to see the Blues do? Nothing. Without the injured players, the Blues are giving guys like SDR and Ian Cole a shot, and that's not too bad. Without the tradable parts like Brewer, the Blues will become unwatchable. You know how old people always talk about the tough times? This is the tough times for the Blues. This will make the vets stronger. Guys like Matt D'Agostnini and Vladimir Sobokta are getting a huge promotion and a chance to thrive. What's the problem with that?
The injuries are going to keep the Blues down, but they could benefit them in the long-term. Mr. Armstrong, stay off the phone. Don't get fleeced by another GM. Don't trade something of extreme value. Don't look for half-priced damaged goods and try and pass them off as improvements. Ride the way. It will get better.