NHL Rumours: St. Louis Blues Defence Logjam Might Remain

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The St. Louis Blues have under a million in salary-cap space and eight NHL defencemen on their roster. Naturally, NHL rumours were generated about which defencemen may get moved out to fix this problem. With money hard to move this off-season because of a flat salary cap, the Blues may not be able to move a defenceman.

NHL Rumours

St. Louis Blues

Rumour: Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic writes that the St. Louis Blues are unlikely to move a defenceman to clear up some room on the depth chart. 

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Analysis: The St. Louis Blues have many defencemen on their roster. They have their mainstays like Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk, Torey Krug and Nick Leddy. They have solid but not flashy defencemen such as Marco Scandella and Roberto Bortuzzo. The Blues also have developing defencemen like Niko Mikkola and Scott Perunovich.  That’s eight players for six spots, but it’s unlikely space will clear up before opening night.

Rutherford writes that the Blues would like to trade Scandella if they could. Scandella makes $3.275 million over the next two seasons and played 18 minutes a night last season. But Nick Leddy’s arrival at the trade deadline knocks him down to the bottom pair. Scandella is pricy for a bottom pairing defenceman, but Rutherford writes that he doesn’t think Blues general manager Doug Armstrong can move him. Many teams are tight to the salary cap and can’t take Scandella on. The teams that can bring in Scandella financially will look for the Blues to send a sweetener with him, but Scandella’s contract isn’t bad enough to warrant it.

Rutherford also writes that Armstrong hasn’t bought out a player in his 12 years as general manager of the Blues, so that’s probably not an option either.

Benefits of Having Many Defencemen

Besides Mikkola and Perunovich, every defenceman on the Blues is 28 years old or older. A veteran defence core is excellent for reliability on the ice but not for staying healthy. Granted, they were healthy last season. If the Blues run into injury trouble, which is a decent possibility, it’s excellent to have reinforcements. Marco Scandella can play in the top four. If the Blues need some offence from the point, they can bring in Scott Perunovich, who scored 22 points in 17 AHL games last season and added six assists in 19 NHL games.

Rutherford also writes that having many defencemen provides insurance if the 25-year-old Niko Mikkola takes a step back in his development. Last season he emerged as the surprising partner for Colton Parayko. Statistically, that pairing didn’t do well. According to Natural Stat Trick, they didn’t show a positive stat line in Corsi for percentage, scoring chances for percentage or goals for or expected. They may get broken up next season, and head coach Craig Berube has lots of choices of players to play with both guys. It will be fascinating to see how the defence shapes up next season.