Blues Adjusting, Not Starting Over
The trade deadline has come and gone. Brad Boyes is now a member of the Buffalo Sabres and Brad Winchester now calls Anaheim home. In the week leading up to the deadline, we saw the Blues deal Erik Johnson and Jay McClement for two very talented players in Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. If you're on Twitter, you likely noticed that numerous fans were throwing around the word "rebuild". This couldn't be further from the truth. Put the phrase "rebuilding" out of your mind. Replace it with this one: "adjusting". The Blues are not a team that is starting over nor are they a team that has sold all of their best assets that will build exclusively through the draft. Take a moment and look at the core group of skaters on the roster that the Blues are most likely planning on building around for not just next year, but the next several years to come. You've got Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, TJ Oshie, Chris Stewart, David Backes and Patrik Berglund. All of these guys have one thing in common - they all have age on their side and are immensely talented. These are the types of guys you can build a contender around. With all these guys in the mix, assuming the Blues don't pull any surprises this summer and bring back who we think they'll bring back, this isn't the roster of a team you'd label as "rebuilding". As I mentioned above, consider using the term "adjusting" to describe what the Blues just accomplished. They tinkered with the pieces surrounding their main group and set themselves up to bring in some fresh faces this summer, while keeping money on the side to extend some fan-favorites. I've already made my thoughts on the Erik Johnson/Jay McClement deal pretty clear in a few articles already on here, so I'll skip talking about that trade for now. First, the Blues did well in getting something back for skaters they didn't plan on bringing back in 2011-12. Consider Eric Brewer and Brad Winchester. Brewer is making a whopping $4.5 million this season and for the most part, has been enjoying a pretty successful 2010-11 campaign. I highly doubt the Blues would have even been able to bring him back as I can't see them offering a number he would have agreed upon. For the vast majority of his time here, Brewer performed well under his potential and was deserving of a hefty pay cut. In all likelihood, he would have taken more money from a different club that was willing to offer it. So what do you do? You get some return on your investment. Add a pick to the Blues draft and a prospect to the organization. The same thing goes for Brad Winchester. Winchester falls into the category of role-player - something the Blues have had too much of for the majority of the past several seasons. He doesn't have the type of talent to be a game-changer - something the Blues could desperately use more of. Winchester's salary wasn't an issue ($700,000), but as evidenced by the trade, the Blues weren't going to bring him back. Here again, the Blues got some return on their original investment, this time in the form of a pick in the 2012 draft. Now comes the "bigger" of the three trades that don't involve Erik Johnson: the Brad Boyes deal. Brad Boyes received a goal-scorers contract. The past two seasons he has not scored goals. That's it - simple as that. Yes, he has played better this year and has helped generate more offense. However, the Blues were on the hook for $4 million with Boyes in 2011-12 and the production he has brought the past two years just doesn't justify that much money. There you have it. The Blues secured some return on investments on guys they probably weren't going to bring back and dumped some salary by moving an under-performing player. Where in all of that are fans getting the term rebuilding? Doug Armstrong is adjusting the pieces surrounding what is a very exciting group of young players. Brad Boyes, Brad Winchester and Eric Brewer didn't figure into the long-term future of the Blues. The Erik Johnson deal brought in two potentially pivotal players to this team's further development at the cost of one. It's understandable to get upset when the organization deals someone you consider a favorite, but it's important not to get lost in the emotion and look at the big picture. I believe Armstrong took one big step forward by cutting pieces that aren't going to be pivotal to the team's future. He has put the Blues in a tremendous position to spend this summer, assuming the situation with the ownership is resolved. If the Blues do finalize the new ownership/investors, I'm sure the fans that quite literally freaked out during this past deadline will feel foolish as the Blues should be able to make a splash or two on the free agent market. They'll also feel foolish as some of the money that would have gone to Brad Boyes is diverted to keeping TJ Oshie in St. Louis. "Rebuilding" is a pretty strong term. Consider this phase two, or even stage three of a rebuilding process that started years ago - not the signaling of a brand new one.