Everyone knew that once the news broke that Vladimir Tarasenko was out the majority of the season, that the offense was going to suffer. When you lose a guy who scores anywhere between 30 and 40 goals in a season, you're going to be missing a big piece to your club. That hasn't stopped the Blues, who despite a long list of injuries, including guys like Alexander Steen, Oskar Sundqvist, and Sammy Blais. The Blues have gotten timely goals, and they've had players step up into bigger roles and do well.
David Perron, who leads the Blues with 15 goals, has been a catalyst offensively, for this Blues team. Brayden Schenn has also been a big piece to the Blues offense, as he's currently sitting at 14 goals on the year. However, after 35 games, the Blues don't have another player with more than 10 goals. Both Sundqvist (who missed six games due to injury) and Jaden Schwartz have nine goals. Next is Alex Pietrangelo with seven goals, and Ryan O'Reilly with six. After that it's a long list of players with five, four, and three goals respectively.
The goaltending is a big piece to the Blues sitting a top the West, with Jake Allen's 5-2-2 record and Jordan Binnington boasting a 16-6-4 record. The defense has helped tremendously, helping keeps pucks to the outside, but timely goalscoring has been the key point this season. It's not a secret that late game heroics and Perron's magic in overtime have earned many points this season, but how long can you rely on that?
A slew of handful of call ups from the San Antonio Rampage have helped as well. Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, and Nathan Walker have all registered a goal in their respect time with the Blues. However, how many players will the Blues call up to plug into the top six throughout the season? Will Kyrou stick with the Blues? Maybe call up Kostin and give him another shot, because it seems that everytime a skilled prospect is called up from the America Hockey League, they eventually end up with Schwartz and Schenn. Maybe it's time to look outside the organization to see if you can find a fill in to help the Blues until the post-season and they get Tarasenko back.
Here are three options that maybe able to help the Blues, and are rumored to be available.
The first option wouldn't cost you any assets, just money, but it also carries the most risk. That would be signing Ilya Kovalchuk, who's contract was just terminated by the Los Angeles Kings. Kovalchuk has been an offensive force through his entire career, but his past season with the Kings didn't go as attended, and this year has been worse. Scoring just 16 goals in 64 games last season is the lowest in his career other than his 11 goals in 37 games the year he left the NHL for the KHL. This season he has just three goals, six assists over 17 games. Kovalchuk hasn't been the offensive player he once was, and can you expect him to be? The now 36 year old still has an absolute cannon of a shot, and over a period of time, can help offensively. However, his two way play is nonexistent. He is, at best, a third line player and a powerplay specialst who may be able to jump up the line up now and then.
Why is he an option then? Stick him on the third line with Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak, then you can continue to look at Sundqvist in the top six, and "Sunny" hasn't disappointed with more ice time this year, or last. Word from Igor Eronko is that Kovalchuk is willing to sign a league minimum deal with a contender, and with limited cap space, this might be the best route for the Blues to take.
After that, a trade is the only other logical option, and there are two players in particular, who might be worth taking a flyer on. The first would be Tyler Toffoli. Set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and looking more and more like he might explore that option with the Kings working on a rebuild, he's been rumored to be available. Toffoli currently has nine goals, 11 assists for 20 points in 34 games. He is by no means a world beater. Coming off a disappointing 13 goals last season, Toffoli has shown in the past that he can contribute offensively. Breaking the 30 goal plateau once in his career, and the 20 goal mark to other times. He's a top six forward, and would fit nicely on a line with Schenn and Schwartz.
The final option is another pending UFA, this time from New York. Big bodied, Chris Kreider. With Kreider, you pretty much know what you're going to get. 20 -25 goals, and anywhere between 40 and 50 points. Again, not world beater and no superstar. However, he's a big bodied forward who opens up space for his line mates. He's a guy who can play on the power play in front of the net. You'd have to put either Schwartz or Kreider on the right wing, as both are typical left wingers, however you could also toss Kreider on the wing with O'Reilly and Perron, then put Sundvist with Schenn and Schwartz. If the Blues are looking for a deal, I'd look at either of these two guys since they wouldn't (and shouldn't) have paid the price for Taylor Hall.
What do you guys think? Keep with the prospects plugging holes for now, or an outside option to help the offense? Let me know in the comments, follow me on twitter @RandallRitchey
and if you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected]