Brian Elliott is 3-5-1 with a 4.10 GAA and .849 SP so far this season. (Photo by Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues entered February with a 6-1-0 record, but dropped five straight games and tumbled down the Western Conference standings.
Goaltending has been part of the problem. Jaroslav Halak has been sidelined since Feb. 1 by a nagging groin injury, while Brian Elliott has been unable to regain last season's stellar form.
Offense, particularly at even strength, is another issue. Sean Leahy of the blog Puck Daddy noted forwards Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart, T.J. Oshie and David Perron had only a goal each during their losing skid, while rookie star Vladimir Tarasenko had gone scoreless.
Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wondered what GM Doug Armstrong would do to address these problems. Armstrong's presence at Monday's Flyers-Maple Leafs game initiated speculation about his intentions.
The Leafs and Flyers won't provide much offensive help. The Flyers have scoring problems of their own, while the surging Leafs have little reason to tinker with their roster right now.
Neither club can address the Blues goaltending problems. The Leafs lost James Reimer for at least a week to a knee injury, while the Flyers have no depth of their own to use as trade bait.
TrueHockey.com's Andy Strickland claimed the Flyers need scoring, while the Blues could use a defenseman. One of the Blues’ struggling young forwards might benefit from a change of scenery, but the Flyers have little to spare from their injury-ravaged blueline to offer in return.
More imaginative observers link the Blues with Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo.
St. Louis has the cap space to absorb Luongo’s contract and a depth in young talent to interest the Canucks, plus Halak ($3.75 million) and Elliott ($1.8 million) have only a year remaining on their contracts.
Such a move, however, depends on Armstrong's level of desperation, Luongo's willingness to go to St. Louis, and whether or not Blues ownership wants to invest in a 33-year-old goalie with an average annual salary of $5.33 million over the next 10 years.
The Blues’ surprisingly strong showing last year led to heightened expectations this season. Armstrong won't panic, but if the Blues don't soon pull out of this spiral, he could shake things up to get his club back on track.
STREIT TO THE POINT
The NHL's April 3 trade deadline is less than two months away, but that hasn't stopped some pundits from suggesting New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit will be available by then.
Streit, 35, is in the final season of his five-year, $20.5 million contract and eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch and the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believe Streit will be traded if the Islanders are out of playoff contention by the deadline.
However, one shouldn't assume Streit is a certainty to be dealt. In recent years, GM Garth Snow has often confounded media expectations, such as when he claimed Evgeni Nabokov off waivers and when he traded for Tim Thomas last week.
P-A Parenteau was frequently mentioned last season in trade rumors, but Snow retained the winger in hopes of re-signing him. Parenteau eventually signed with Colorado as a free agent.
A determining factor in Streit’s availability will be where he sees himself beyond this season. If he's willing to stay with the Islanders, Snow will try to re-sign him.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).