The NHL trade deadline is approaching, with only about a month and a half before teams must finalize their rosters for the playoff push. Of course, St. Louis Blues fans, like all hockey fans, think of ways to make the team better.
The problem with that is that, more often than not, fans don’t look past this season. It’s not their money, so they don’t care about the implications of the cap. They only see the potential for a Stanley Cup here and now, unwittingly sacrificing the chance to win a year or two later because of their ideal trade.
That’s where Jordan Kyrou comes in. Kyrou just won the fastest skater competition at the NHL Skills Competition in Las Vegas.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 5, 2022
The funny thing is, if some fans had their way, Kyrou wouldn’t be on the Blues anymore or maybe never fit for St. Louis. That idea sounds crazy now, but just a few seasons ago there were a lot of fan-made swaps that included Kyrou.
The idea then was that Kyrou hadn’t made it to the league yet, so he probably wouldn’t. There are examples of players who succeed right away and others who don’t become a star for some time after being drafted.
That’s what makes some of the fan exchanges you see on social media a little laughable and potentially dangerous for the team if they were to happen. Ultimately, we don’t know what some of these guys might become and giving up on them in the short term could be disastrous.
If the Blues had done what some (certainly not all) wanted back then, they wouldn’t have the dynamic player they have now. Their offense would miss 17 goals and 49 points at the All-Star break.
There’s a discussion to be had about whether Kyrou is legitimately the fastest skater in the league, but the bottom line is that he’s in the discussion. The Blues wouldn’t have one of the fastest skaters in the league on their roster if the team only had short-term goals in mind. In a league that thrives on speed, St. Louis would still fall behind.
Another problem with this line of thinking is that the need is always changing. When Kyrou would have been part of the bait, the need was to score goals.
Doug Armstrong knew the player he had and now the Blues have scored with Kyrou and a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko. Instead of processing a prospect then, Armstrong waited, made a much smarter move to acquire Pavel Buchnevich, and St. Louis is set for a while.
Turn the page and suddenly the “problem” of the team is the defense. The solution, some say, is to include Scott Perunovich in a deal for a proven top-four defender.
I ask why? I completely understand most of the answers I would receive.
My colleague, Jason Martin, wrote an article explaining who might be included in certain transactions and why. His logic makes sense, but I still disagree from an overall point of view.
I feel like trading Perunovich now would be the same as trading Kyrou back then. Maybe Perunovich doesn’t make it, but there seems to be too much potential there for me to buy into.
For all we know, Perunovich could be the next Cale Makar. Opponents will say he would have already proven he could do it if it were to happen, but not everyone develops at the same rate.
You indicate that Makar is on his way to becoming a superstar immediately. I point out Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger who hadn’t done a ton in Hartford, struggled after being traded to St. Louis, faced boos from fans and became one of the best all-time defenders.
That’s not to say that I believe Perunovich will become so great. It’s just to say that not everyone is on the same timeline.
If nothing else, the team’s history hasn’t been one of getting rid of players just to do a short-term deal. Rod Brind’Amour, Doug Gilmour and Geoff Courtnall, among others, were all examples of players the Blues let go sooner than they should have in a deal at the time. Looking back, many times the Blues would have done better to keep these guys.
I understand it’s a thin line that CEOs have to walk. You don’t want to give up players too soon, but you don’t want to hoard your own hopes like the St. Louis Cardinals have recently done, constantly thinking they’ll eventually bust.
I don’t envy Armstrong. He has tough decisions to make as the Blues could benefit from an upgrade on the blue line. We may wonder if this should be a top pairing or not, but adding a real defender would help.
The question is always when and how and I disagree that it has to be now and via a blockbuster deal. Trading Perunovich, along with the pay cut it would take to afford a top four defender, is going to affect your team.
You mess with team chemistry by potentially losing one or more NHL players. You also lose future flexibility.
If Perunovich becomes the player you’re hoping for, he’s cheaper and gives you the option to trade a player like Torey Krug if you could get someone to bite on that. If he’s gone, you’re stuck with Krug (not necessarily a bad thing) as well as the likely big player contract you acquired.
It’s not bad to speculate and have fun with. More often than not, however, the trades fans that come to mind are myopic.
We want the Stanley Cup now – tomorrow be damned. I feel like Kyrou’s situation has proven that sometimes making a deal in the moment takes away your ability to win in the future.
I don’t specifically remember a certain player that Kyrou was outed for, but I know he wasn’t someone worth giving up the next few years of a Robert Thomas/Kyrou combo.
The same is true of Perunovich, for me. If the Blues are to include him in a trade package, it better be for someone who can’t miss and will stick around for a good, long time.
Otherwise, it’s a risk not worth taking.