The St. Louis Blues have done a more than admirable job in surviving key injuries so far this season, earning a 13-5-1 mark and first place in both the Central Division and Western Conference.
Are they potentially poised to make a significant splash on the trade market before the February 26 deadline to enhance their chances of making a post-season run though?
Elliotte Friedman alluded to his belief in the possibility that general manager Doug Armstrong might develop an appetite to do just such a thing.
The lead-in to this point of the discussion involved the most-asked question of all hockey Insiders of late, regarding the fate of pending unrestricted free agent Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’m watching that game in the background, and actually he scored I think right as you guys called,” noted Friedman during a Tuesday afternoon appearance on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650. “That was a 5-on-5 goal. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, who is one of the reporters there, he filled me in last week on a stat.
“So last season, the ’16-17 season, he scored his first goal on December 5. Since then he’s got 31 goals 5-on-5. The only guy who has got more is Auston Matthews, who has got 32.
“I think this: I think Buffalo is going to reach a point where they’re going to listen, and I think there’s going to be a lot of offers. Now you’re looking at the trade chips – Duchene is gone, Turris is gone. We’re looking at a situation where now everybody is going to call around and say, ‘Who’s left.’ I think Kane is going to be very high on that list. I don’t know if it means an extension, but I do think it means that especially teams that are going to all-in for this season. I’m wondering about a team like St. Louis, do they feel they have to answer. Nashville gets Turris. Does St. Louis feel now that they have to add something. He might be a really good fit for them.
“But I think basically what we’re all wondering here is now who are the next group of guys. I think Kane will be very high on that list. And I think if he’s available, I think Buffalo is going to be able to create a situation where a lot of teams are going to be interested.”
Friedman was then pressed for further thought on whether Kane might be the logical choice for the Blues to counter the Predators’ Turris addition, or if there might be another option.
“I think they’re going to look for something like that,” considered the Insider. “They’ve got guys who are hurt coming back. Eventually Berglund is going to come back and Bouwmeester is going to come back. They have guys that are parts of their team that are going to come back. But I think they go out and get something.
“Look, it’s a division that isn’t great this year. That’s a reason for you to go for it. That’s No. 1. And No. 2, the GM is in the final year of his contract, and that can be a reason to go for things too.
“So I look at it and I say we haven’t heard the last of St. Louis, and I think they’re going to go out and get something.”
Kane, incidentally, is in the final season of his six-year, $31.5 million contract.
He carries a $5.25 million cap hit and makes $6 million in actual salary this season.
The 26-year-old winger does not have any trade protection in that pact.
Another brief trade-related note:
It was as Friedman went on the air with Sportsnet 650 that Nick Kypreos broke the trade between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings that saw Jussi Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri swap teams, and Friedman relayed the news as it was happening.
“I know the Oilers were looking for a scorer and Cammalleri just signed in L.A., so that’s a pretty interesting move,” observed Friedman.
“Nick’s tweets come to my phone. Usually it’s about sandwiches, but that one’s pretty big,” he kidded.
Jokinen, 34, is making $1.1 million this season and had a modified no-trade clause where he can submit a three-team no-trade list.
He has one assist in 14 starts.
Cammalleri’s cap hit is only $1 million, but his AAV is actually $200,000 higher because of potential performance bonuses.
The 35-year-old forward has three goals and four assists in 15 games.
“There’s no question the Oilers have been looking for offense and some speed,” noted Friedman. “Cammalleri is a quick guy and he’s got some speed. It’s not a surprise to me that they would make a move. I was wondering if they were going to look – I think I said it on your air last week – I was wondering if they would look at Toronto’s guys, like a Soshnikov or a Leivo.
“But they’re definitely struggling in scoring, they’re definitely looking to add some offensive touch, and Cammalleri has got it.
“As Chris Johnston reported a couple of weeks ago, Jussi Jokinen was a guy that they sent out an email on saying, ‘Is anybody interested?’ So I really think that Jokinen – I’m not surprised he’s out.
“I’m curious to see what the Kings think here. They’re a team that’s using speed a lot more and Jussi Jokinen is not a fast guy, but I can totally see why Edmonton would be interested in a Mike Cammalleri.”