After some recent struggles, there's a possibility the Blues could shake up their lineup. Rumors suggest that one of either T.J. Oshie or Patrik Berglund could be on the move if St. Louis can find the right deal. Elsewhere, the Flames could be forced to make a move as the team gets healthier.
The St. Louis Blues began this season considered among the Stanley Cup contenders, but of late they've been plagued by inconsistency. Entering this week, they won only four of their last ten games. The production of veteran scorers David Backes, Alex Steen, and T.J. Oshie is down from last season Goaltenders Jake Allen and Martin Brodeur struggled at times during that stretch.
Though the Blues began the week among the top-four teams in the Western Conference, their recent stumbles added fuel to the speculation a shake-up via trade could be coming. They've been linked to the Boston Bruins for several weeks, with Oshie and Patrik Berglund often mentioned as potential trade candidates.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch doubts the Blues will part with Oshie, who has two years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. Garrioch suggests, however, Berglund could still be available. Like Oshie, the 26-year-old Berglund has two years left on his contract, though at a more affordable $3.7-million annually.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman believes the Blues must soon make a decision about their goaltending. Brian Elliott's recent return has them carrying three netminders. Brodeur, signed as a short-term replacement when Elliott was sidelined, is the likely candidate to be moved.
Despite the ongoing rumors swirling about the Blues, GM Doug Armstrong doesn't seem in a hurry to make a trade. Armstrong told Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he might get involved in the trade market at some point, but deals are unlikely because there are very few “hockey trades” anymore where two clubs are willing to assume a degree of risk.
Given the Blues current position in the standings, Armstrong can afford to be patient. With the NHL trade deadline now less than two months away, the trade market should improve as more non-playoff contenders go into sell mode.
Much will depend, of course, upon the Blues' performance in the coming weeks. If they snap out of their recent funk and regain their consistency, Armstrong could be in the market for a rental player to bolster his club's chances for a championship. However, if their struggles persist through January and they slide down the standings, he could be forced to consider more drastic measures.
FLAMES HEALTH COULD CHANGE LINEUP
The Calgary Flames lineup is about to get healthier, as center Mikael Backlund (abdominal injury) and defenseman Ladislav Smid (upper body) are set to return to action very soon. That will force to Flames to make some roster changes.
The Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland notes there's a risk of upsetting team chemistry as the injured players return. Coach Bob Hartley acknowledged this but said it's something the players will have to deal with.
Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun speculates little-used enforcer Brian McGrattan and blueliner Corey Potter could become the odd men out. One or both could be peddled via trade, though it's more likely they'll end up on waivers and demoted to the minors if they clear.
McGrattan could interest teams seeking toughness on their checking lines. Potter is a right-handed shot and could attract attention from teams in need of blueline depth.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.