Evgeny Grachev

Blues may have to trade top-six forward to acquire defenseman


In speaking with the media prior to free agency, St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong made it clear he was looking to add defensemen.

Specifially, one that’s left-handed (to fill out that side of his blueline) and one that’s more defensively inclined (to pair with Alex Pietrangelo.)

But with so many defensemen snapped up on the opening day of free agency, Armstrong might need to go another route — the trade route, according to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Blues have made inquiries about Ryan Suter, Jason Garrison and Matt Carle. Suter is reportedly not interested in St. Louis, Garrison signed in Vancouver and Carle’s believed to be waiting on what Suter does, positioning himself as “Next Best” for teams that whiff on the Nashville rearguard.

After those three, the UFA defenseman market really thins out — so much that Rutherford actually mentions the name of Toronto’s Jeff Finger, something I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Which brings us to the possibility of a trade. Both Phoenix and Calgary have expensive back ends (gotta be a better way to say that) after acquiring Zbynek Michalek and Dennis Wideman, respectively — moves that have put defensemen Keith Yandle and Jay Bouwmeester on the block.

If Calgary and/or Phoenix want to move their defensemen to acquire more scoring, St. Louis is a viable trade candidate.

More, from Rutherford:

All of which means that teams such as Calgary and Phoenix may have interest in the Blues’ forwards.

They have 14 in the picture: David Backes, Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie (restricted free agent), David Perron (restricted free agent), Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart, Matt D’Agostini, Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan Reaves, B.J. Crombeen, Scott Nichol and Jaden Schwartz.

The team also has interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent Jamie Langenbrunner and depth in the minors with Evgeny Grachev, Adam Cracknell and Philip McRae.

Should be noted the Blues have a payroll projected to be $28 million under the salary cap for the 2012-13 season.

Minor deals: Blue Jackets send Nikita Filatov to Ottawa; Rangers trade Evgeny Grachev to St. Louis

A pair of minor deals went down today and one of them featured a former first round pick. Columbus dealt struggling 2008 first round pick Nikita Filatov to Ottawa for their third round pick in the draft, 66th overall. With that pick the Blue Jackets selected Notre Dame forward T.J. Tynan.

Filatov’s failure to live up to his potential in Columbus is one smothered in controversy. Filatov was ushered into the NHL at 19 years-old under former head coach Ken Hitchcock. With Hitchcock being a strict defensive minded coach and Filatov meant to be a pure offensive talent, the two did not blend well together. Filatov was allowed to go play in the KHL for a season last year and spent most of this season playing for the Jackets’ AHL affiliate in Springfield. Perhaps a change of scenery is the medicine he needs to find his game and become an NHL player. The Senators certainly hope that that’s the case.

The Rangers sent a struggling Russian prospect of their own in Evgeny Grachev to St. Louis for their third round pick, 72nd overall. With that pick, the Rangers picked Minnesota high school forward Steven Fogarty. Grachev couldn’t quite get things going at all in the Rangers organization and Rangers GM Glen Sather said he’d been trying to deal him for the past year.

Perhaps Grachev will get a chance to find his game in a new location in St. Louis. Other forwards have been able to do that there in guys like Matt D’Agostini. That’s not to say Grachev is on that level, but the opportunity is there to be had.