Well Blues fans, Day 12 of no hockey and I am going stir crazy. The thought of where this team was, Tarasenko’s return and what the odds looked like for another run to Lord Stanley’s Cup was as exciting as last season. I still hold tight the chance of the season’s return and a Cup champion to be crowned. If that happens, I like the Blues chances for this reason…defense.
The injury and uncertainty of Bouwmeester’s left a frightening thought a huge piece would be missing for the rest of this season and into the playoffs. The dynamic duo of Bouwmeester & Parayko was a key piece in capturing the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. How can one person replace that? Doug Armstrong knew. He knew that a defenseman in Montreal who was familiar with the Central would be a welcoming addition. Enter Marco Scandella. He joins his new team and ensues a 9-2 record, posting only 2 games with a minutes rating and averaged 17:14 of ice time. Is it impressive? Yes. Does Armstrong’s brilliance surprise you? Not a chance.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane at how good Doug Armstrong has been at acquiring defenseman at the right time:
2-18-2011: One of the first “big” trades that Doug pulled off for St. Louis. He sent a package that included a struggling Erik Johnson for a package that centered around a young, Kevin Shattenkirk. Both went on to have strong career but the impact that Shattenkirk had on St. Louis is larger than Johnson in Colorado. (6 seasons of playoffs in STL – 3 seasons of playoffs in COL)
4-1-2013: The next move was a timely move by Doug finding a LH defenseman to play with Alex Pietrangelo. Sending Mark Cundari, Reto Berra and a 1st round pick for Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester would 8 seasons in St. Louis, continuing an Iron Man streak, winning two gold medals as a Blue and helping build Pietrangelo into a top D-man in the NHL.
4-3-2013: Here’s a move that many may not remember but Doug signed a veteran free-agent Wade Redden in the off-season and traded him in April for a draft pick that became Sammy Blais. Not a defenseman acquisition but a strong move nonetheless.
6-28-2014: This one wasn’t a popular move when Doug traded a fan favorite Roman Polak to Toronto for Carl Gunnarsson. Carl may not have been the physical presence that Polak was but he became an integral part of this Blues team. Carl would spend the next four seasons as a consistent piece on the blue line. His last two seasons have been injury plagued but it included some memorable moments on the ice, and at the urinal.
3-2-2015: Two trades that were influential, at the time, to the team making the postseason. Acquiring Robert Bortuzzo from PIT for Ian Cole and Zbynek Michalek from Arizona for Maxim Letunov (I know, who). The Blues would be bounced in the first round but Bortuzzo would become a physical presence the team desperately needed on the blue line for the next few season.
We finally make it to the Marco Scandella trade. There have been a few trades that didn’t work in Armstrong’s favor but the moves on defense have proved influential to this team’s sustained success over the last 10 years and in the near future. The next decisions will be difficult on if the need for Scandella to be resigned and/or an extension for Alex Pietrangelo.
If history repeats itself then whatever move Doug decides for this team will be the right one for the Blues.