Rumblings: Blues heavy with defensemen
April, 2, 2013
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
The St. Louis Blues are a much better team on the back end after the acquisitions of Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.
But they’re a little heavy in the numbers back there, as well, with nine defensemen on the roster. So you can expect the Blues to draw interest from teams looking to add a blueliner between now and Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
The two obvious candidates who no doubt will draw the most interest are Kris Russell and Ian Cole, since both have been pushed down the totem pole given the acquisition of Leopold and Bouwmeester.
Cole, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2007. He can’t be sent down without clearing waivers first, so the Blues would never want to attempt that. Either they’re going to keep him on the big club as a depth player, or they’ll deal him before Wednesday’s deadline if the offer is right.
Russell, 26, is a serviceable puck-moving type. He’s a restricted free agent after the season, as is Cole.
Blues veteran Wade Redden is the other blueliner pushed out of the top six with these additions, so he's another possibility in terms of a move. He’s done what’s been asked of him, but I'm not sure there would be as much interest in him.
The plan now is for the top pair to be Bouwmeester with Alex Pietrangelo and the second pair to be Leopold with Kevin Shattenkirk, followed by Barret Jackman with Roman Polak as a very solid third pairing.
A final note on the Bouwmeester deal: Kudos to Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Aside from the first-round pick, he didn’t give up a whole lot to Calgary (defenseman Mark Cundari and goaltender Reto Berra).
One Eastern Conference team source thought it was shocking that the Flames didn’t get an A-level or even a B-level prospect in the deal.
Obviously, what mattered most to Calgary, as with the Jarome Iginla deal, was the first-round pick.
The Blues, meanwhile, may not be done. If they can find what they’re looking for, I think a bottom-six forward with grit would turn the trick as their final addition.
And Detroit?The Red Wings were in on Bouwmeester, but in the end they didn’t get him because they didn’t include a first-round pick, a source told ESPN.com.
Which, quite frankly, is a smart, smart, smart decision by Wings GM Ken Holland.
Yes, Bouwmeester is the top-four D-man the Wings have been craving all year, but Detroit is not in a position organizationally to be trading first-round picks. They moved a first-round pick last year for Kyle Quincey when they still had Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the team and felt they had a shot to really contend.
But now? Of course, they still like their team if they get healthy and make the playoffs, but this is an organization that needs to restock and use its own first-round picks to actually draft players.
They’ve been near the top of the standings for 20 years. It’s time to draft and develop again.
There is no way Holland could have ever justified moving a first-rounder to Calgary. What if the Wings miss the playoffs? Even if they had structured the deal as St. Louis did by deferring the first-rounder to 2014, who’s to say what Detroit is going to look like next season if they miss the playoffs this season? That pick could be even more dangerous to give to Calgary.
My belief is that Detroit’s final offer on Bouwmeester was a second-round pick and two prospects. And frankly, that’s as far as the Wings could have gone.
Coyotes available?The Coyotes are taking calls on players, and two in particular who are generating interest are veterans Derek Morris and Raffi Torres.
Morris is a reliable, veteran defenseman who would help most contenders. He has another year left on his deal at a $2.75 million cap hit, so he’s not a rental, however.
He also has a limited no-trade clause; his camp submitted a list of eight teams before the season that he would allow a trade to.
I believe Detroit is among the eight teams on that list, and that could be intriguing after the Red Wings lost out on Bouwmeester.
Torres, a pending UFA, is the type of physical, gritty winger some playoff teams like to add at this time of year.
A third Coyotes name to throw in the mix is that of center Boyd Gordon. He’s another pending UFA -- the Coyotes have eight in total -- and an underrated player, in my estimation. He’s a perfect fit on the third or fourth line for a playoff team.