Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues GM Armstrong Still Not in Mood for Pricey Rental Player

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues GM Armstrong Still Not in Mood for Pricey Rental Player

Article excerpt

On any given night this season, the Blues have shown that they not only can compete with any teams in the league but beat them. But can they do it consistently enough to be considered a true Stanley Cup contender this year?

The specific results there are mixed. There are eight teams in the National Hockey League that have more points than St. Louis. The Blues are 6-7-3 against those eight, going a combined 5-1-1 against Toronto, Vegas and Winnipeg, 1-1 vs. Pittsburgh but 0-5-2 against Boston, Nashville, Tampa Bay and Washington.

All of that factors into how general manager Doug Armstrong views the fast-approaching trade deadline now just a week away. He has been nothing if not consistent in how he views this year's team and this year's deadline.

With that in mind it seems safe to assume that nothing that happens good or bad in the three games remaining against San Jose, Winnipeg, and Nashville before the Feb. 26 trade deadline is likely to change that.

In early January, Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch that he didn't think the team's championship window was open yet that it might be a year or two away. He added that as the trade deadline approached, the idea was to protect as many of the team's "good young pieces" as possible.

In an interview Saturday with Post-Dispatch columnist Jose de Jesus Ortiz, the message hadn't changed. Armstrong views the Blues as a top 10 team this season, but not a leading contender that's a player, or even two, away from the Stanley Cup.

And that continues to guide his approach. Armstrong doesn't want to go all-in to obtain a "rental" a player scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season. That doesn't mean he won't pursue one if the price is right, and there are some interesting rentals thought to be on the market .

Among them are Buffalo's Evander Kane, Edmonton's Patrick Maroon and Rick Nash and Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers all forwards.

Kane, 26, has been a productive scorer with 28 goals last season and 18 so far this season. But he's had some off-the-ice issues, and if the Blues were to acquire him it would take a lot to re-sign him after this season given his $5.25 million salary-cap hit this season.

Keeping Nash beyond the Blues' remaining 22 regular-season games and any playoff contests this season wouldn't figure to be cheap, either, given his $7.8 million cap hit this campaign. In addition, Nash has a modified no-trade clause, and the Blues would have to be on his list of 12 teams that would be acceptable to him in a trade.

Nash has scored 30-plus goals eight times during his career, but while still productive at age 33, his goal-scoring numbers are declining. He has 18 goals this season and had 23 last season.

Nash's Rangers teammate, Grabner, is three years younger at age 30 and has scored 50 goals since the start of the 2016-17 season. …

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