The NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away, so what better time to blog about rumours, gossip and innuendo? Today, I attempt to put together some puzzle pieces found on the inter-webs and see just what a potential deal could look like between the Winnipeg Jets and the St. Louis Blues.
Earlier this month, Pierre LeBrun of TSN/ESPN mentioned on his Rumblings blog that the Blues were in the market for a "left-handed, top-four type blueliner". And when rumours surfaced that Blues GM Doug Armstrong followed the Jets on their 4-game road-swing through Florida earlier this season were apparently confirmed by Dennis Beyak on TSN radio, it obviously got us thinking here in Winnipeg...
A quick look at the LH-shots on the Blues roster right now shows Wade Redden, Ian Cole, Kris Russel and Barret Jackman, of which only the latter is signed for next season. Hmm... Ron Hainsey and Grant Clitsome are both left-handed defensemen. Both are UFA's this summer. And both have been plugged into top-4 roles this season to varying degrees of success...
Now, let me first preface this with the fact that I am not Ron Hainsey's biggest fan. And if the Jets choose to re-sign him, I'm not sure I'd love it but I could understand it as he's a known commodity. But if he doesn't sign that deal before next Wednesday, I strongly believe that he must be traded. The Jets are too shallow to allow an asset to walk away for nothing, and I'd be concerned that Hainsey would test the open market in July.
Alright, so let's assume that it is one of these guys that the Blues are after, as Tobias Enstrom isn't going anywhere after signing his recent long-term deal and the rest of our left-hand shots likely have little to no value. So, what would St. Louis have to offer?
A glance at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft shows that the Blues have not only all of their draft picks from Rounds 1-7, but they also have an extra 2nd from Ottawa (Ben Bishop trade) and an extra 4th from Tampa Bay (B.J. Crombeen trade). So, if draft picks are what Chevy is after, the Blues could hook him up.
However, a quick look at their Capgeek page shows that the Blues only have 12 guys signed for next season for $30.883m, but that number does not include their RFA's who need to re-sign. With Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund, Ian Cole, Kris Russel and
Allen York Jake Allen all needing new deals, as well as UFA-to-be Andy McDonald if they choose to re-sign him, they're going to need to spend some money. I wonder if they'd move one of the young RFA d-men...
If Douglas Murray is worth a pair of 2nd round picks to the Pittsburgh Penguins, then I'm sure that Ron Hainsey would be worth at least that much. And as the Blues do hold two 2nd round picks this summer, that is a possibility.
Next up would be the young RFA d-men. Ian Cole, the former 1st Round selection by the Blues (18th overall in 2007), can't seem to get into the lineup as he's only dressed in 2 of their last 14 games. The 24-year-old is 6'4" and 225 lbs, so his size would match up with what Chevy and co. are after.
Kris Russell is the other RFA d-man that might be available. He's dressed in all but 4 games this season for the Blues but I'm not so sure that he isn't too similar to Enstrom. At 5'10" and 172 lbs, I'd wager that he's not the type of d-man that TNSE would be after. And sorry, I doubt that either Pietrangelo or Shattenkirk are available.
As for a top-6 type of player to play with Evander Kane, the one player that has been speculated is Chris Stewart, as he's another RFA that will be GETTING PAID after the season he's putting together this year. While I'd love to see the big right-winger end up in the River City, he'd cost an arm and a leg to acquire, and I just don't see the Blues dumping their leading scorer at the deadline. But I'd be fine with moving a few high picks to get this big body here with the Jets.
What I Would Like To See Happen:
If Ron Hainsey is to be moved, and the Blues are the destination, I would suggest that the price tag would be at least as high as the two 2nd-round pick that Douglas Murray garnered. However, I don't see Chevy moving one of this d-men for picks alone, unless another move is made to fill that spot.
In my opinion, a move of Hainsey would need a roster player in return. I'd like to see a swap of Ron Hainsey for Ian Cole. Straight up would be preferred, and I'd even add a middle to late pick if needed.
For some thoughts on Ian Cole, Laura Astorian of SB Nation St. Louis (@hildymac) provided me with some insight:
A few thoughts on Cole -- he's a work in progress. He's got potential, but Hitchcock tends to sit him in favor of Redden or Russell, two guys with a lot sharper defensive sense. Cole's been on-ice for a few really preventable goals. If you want a scapegoat to replace Hainsey, there you go! He does have ability, and can make a great cross-ice pass, but you have to have patience with him. He just has a point and is -4, but I think that the more he plays, the better he'll get. He'll probably be a second pairing at best.
Now I'll admit that I've never seen him play, but a quick look at Behind The Net shows me that he's got some pretty good possession numbers. He has the third-best CorsiOn (3.98) on the blue-line, while playing against the toughest CorsiQoC (1.773), and his PDO is the lowest on the team at 936. That might help explain his -4 rating. Maybe Hitchcock shouldn't be sitting him so often...
This move would give the Jets a young defender, who is an RFA, that has potential but maybe isn't the best fit in St. Louis. At the same time, it would give the Blues a left-handed shot which they apparently covet, and one who can play top-4 minutes to boot. Despite the Blues being in 8th in the Western Conference and the Jets hanging out in 3rd, I don't think it would be a stretch to suggest that St. Louis has the better chance of doing damage in the playoffs if they get there, so a veteran like Hainsey could be of use to them.
And if their target is Grant Clitsome? Ha. Well, they can have him for a 6th-round pick.
So what say you, Jets fans? Would you move Ron Hainsey or Grant Clitsome to the Blues? What would be your trade targets? Or you do prefer to re-sign Hainsey instead? Let us know in the comments section below.