The St. Louis Blues have shown great promise the past few seasons. They finished fourth, sixth, and third overall in the past three seasons respectively, but have only won one playoff round in that span – making quick work of the Sharks following the 2011-2012 season. Since head coach Ken Hitchcock took over that season and resurrected the team that had not won a single playoff game since 2004, the Blues have become one of the top teams in the league; they went from dark horse in Hitchcock’s first season to Stanley Cup favorite heading into the 2014 playoffs. Armed with high-caliber forwards T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and captain David Backes, as well as defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Barret Jackman, and franchise defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues looked poised to make a deep run into the playoffs. But all season, it was the goaltending position that management and fans alike wanted to upgrade.
When the Blues acquired silver medalist goaltender Ryan Miller, as well as Steve Ott, from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline, it solidified the team as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for their fans, the Blues fell to the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in just six games, making for a stunning and seemingly premature end to a remarkable season. What the Blues lack is a true number one center; not to say that David Backes is not a good player, of course, but they need a more offensive-minded center who can dish the puck to St. Louis’ goal-scorers.
The Blues have several assets to include in a trade for a top centerman. Their options in the free agent pool are thin, but the trade market is bustling this summer with big names like Jason Spezza, Ryan Kesler, Joe Thornton, and more being thrown around the rumor mill. Here are some of the players St. Louis can look at leading up to the draft and beyond during this offseason.