With the trade deadline a few weeks away, the St. Louis Blues have found themselves in a difficult situation. Alternate captain Alex Pietrangelo sustained an injury after colliding with Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild on February 8th. The Blues held on to win the game 4-1 only to receive bad news about their superstar defenseman. The Blues announced Pietrangelo will be re-evaluated in three weeks due to his knee injury and there is no defined timeline for his return. This leaves the blues with a gaping hole on the back end. While Parayko has played quite well in his rookie season, Blues GM Doug Armstrong is realizing no roster player can step up to such a daunting task. Kevin Shattenkirk is going to be Hitchcock’s go-to guy down the stretch. The question remains, what will Armstrong do at the deadline?
Although Armstrong would prefer to trade for a veteran defenseman, the Blues find themselves at the cap ceiling. Of course, there is no salary cap in the playoffs as we saw the Chicago Blackhawks trade for Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen at the 2015 NHL trade deadline by placing Patrick Kane on the injured reserve, receiving full cap relief. It is too early to tell whether or not Pietrangelo will be back before the playoffs but it is safe to assume the Blues are in the market for a top four defenseman regardless of cap circumstances. The Blues will have to act quickly as defensemen are dropping fast with Byfuglien signing an extension and Phaneuf being shockingly traded to Ottawa in a massive nine player deal. Any deal St. Louis makes must include Berglund and his $3.7 million dollar contract to free up cap space. With that in mind, there is only one defenseman that would fill the Blues’ dire necessity.
With the Vancouver Canucks struggling to keep their heads above water, it has been suggested that Dan Hamhuis would be available at the deadline with one year remaining on his contract. Hamhuis can certainly fulfill a top four spot on the back end and he appears to be the only top four option floating around on the trade block. The Blues have former first round draft pick Ty Rattie in the minors struggling to hold a roster spot in St. Louis. He could very well be trade bait for the veteran defenseman. Can the Blues unload Berglund’s bloated contract? Are they willing to move a highly touted prospect and potentially a draft pick? Armstrong will have some decisions to make as the deadline is quickly approaching.