It was an emotional day on Monday - an emotional day in a disastrous season for the St. Louis Blues... Nearly 30 games into the 2018-19 season the Blues sit near the bottom of the NHL’s overall standings with just 10 wins in their first 28 games.
On Sunday night the team put forth an embarrassing effort on home ice against the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues dropped a 6-1 decision to the young Canucks and were embarrassed by sensation rookie Elias Pettersson, who put up five points on the night. The Blues were booed off the ice and sounded utterly crushed in post game interviews.
And it all boiled to this on Monday, as you know. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo absolutely mugged forward Zach Sanford during practice on Monday morning and you can see the intensity of the altercation. Check it out:
No wonder why trade chatter is now picking up in St. Louis. In his last week's 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported the Blues are “open for business,”claiming there were “few things they won't consider.”
However, something needs to be done, they is no debating it. The Blues might consider going back to a previous rumour that surfaced in another previous 31 Thoughts column. Friedman said there were indications of the team's frustration with winger Vladimir Tarasenko since signing his hefty contract back in 2015. He mentioned no one on the club's gone on the record about the aforementioned chatter and Tarasenko's name hasn't come up in a specific trade rumor for now.
If GM Doug Armstrong is heard to be shopping Tarasenko, it will send a clear message that the Blues are entering a full rebuild mode. The asking price would likely be a package consisting of a high first-round draft pick, a top prospect and at least one promising young roster player. It remains to be seen if such a move will be pulled in the season, closer to the deadline, or it's something more likely to take place during the summer.
There is also the rumour revealing that star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who has this year and next on a contract that carries a $6.5-million cap hit, could be available. NHL insider Nick Kypreos has linked the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Blues' defender.
“I don’t think that Armstrong is shopping Pietrangelo, but that doesn’t keep teams from calling … and asking about him,” said Kypreos. “I believe one of those teams is the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think where that would have to start is if Toronto and (GM) Kyle Dubas get St. Louis to possibly bite on (Nikita) Zaitsev’s contract – which is owed another five years at $4.5 million.
“If they can exchange right-handed defencemen, then there’s a chance you could put a package together maybe with a draft pick, a prospect, and then the likes of a young, fast player for St. Louis in the likes of (Kasperi) Kapanen or (Andreas) Johnsson.”
Armstrong could also move one of the trouble makers from the fight that took place on Monday. In a sense, he could go the Ottawa Senators route and get rid of a player causing issues in the dressing room. However, the Blues GM would not get a huge return for Bortuzzo or Sanford, and the fight seems more like a result of all bad things escalating at this point this season...
It remains to be seen if the Blues will want a major shakeup shortly... The fight between Bortuzzo and Sanford surely has rival teams watching them closely...