All signs currently point to your St. Louis Blues being stuck between a rock and a hard place this offseason, which isn’t to say they can’t still get better.
Badly in need of a top-six forward and a goaltender, the club has engaged teams in trade talks since prized free agent center John Tavares left the Note off his shortlist, but it sounds like the trade market asking price is more than GM Doug Armstrong is ready to sign off on in terms of prospects he wants to keep under the Note umbrella.
Visiting with ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show’ recently, Army discussed this offseason and the line the team has to walk in order to get better when free agents like Tavares don’t think of the Lou as a great puck destination.
“When you enter unrestricted free agency, you know you’re dealing with players who have options and you try and give them the reasons why St. Louis would be a good fit, but some players like the Midwest lifestyle and some players are looking for something different,” Armstrong said.
“You learn to just deal with it and move on. I love St. Louis. It was a great place to raise my family. I know when guys get here they love it, but it doesn’t seem to be a destination for some of the players we’re talking about right now, which is fine,” he added. “They’ve earned that right for unrestricted free agency. Now we look for the trade route, or we look to continue to draft and develop our own players.”
Armstrong also mentioned future assistant GM (and future Hall of Famer) Martin Brodeur in helping direct the team in the trade route, since he himself came here an outsider and decided to stick around.
“Coming from the outside in, [Brodeur] said one avenue is to trade for players and then get them to understand what St. Louis is and then they’ll sign here,” he said. “We did that with Jay Bouwmeester. We’ve done that with Alexander Steen.
“We’ve traded for players in the past that didn’t know a lot about St. Louis. They get here; they spend a short amount of time here and they realize this is a great place to play and to live and that there’s a lot of great qualities,” Army added. “That might be the avenue we have to look at instead of hoping to lure players here that don’t know anything about the city.”
You can additional snippets of Armstrong’s 101 ESPN chat below, followed by the entire interview’s audio. Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and 101Sports.com for plenty of Blues talk as the offseason unfolds.
On keeping young prospects like center Robert Thomas and goaltender Ville Husso:
“Moving forward with this young group is something we want…We want to be highly competitive today, but we want to protect our future. We’ve talked internally and we could improve our team drastically within really 12 hours if we wanted to move three or four of these pieces that we have an excitement about.
“The price of doing business in the trade market was three of these pieces for one player, or two pieces and a high draft pick and we just didn’t feel that that’s the best long-term approach for the St. Louis Blues organization.”
On Husso’s role and the team’s current goaltending outlook:
“What we do want to create competition. What we’re looking to try and do is bring in someone where everything is equal and Ville is prepared to out-battle them…What we don’t want to do is lock someone into a three-year deal that is going to exclude him from getting a fair opportunity.
“I think, quite honestly, it would be good for Ville to come in to training camp, get an exhibition game or two, go in and solidify himself in the American Hockey League and be someone that has that fabric of competition in him that could give us games starting midseason.”