As trade winds continue to link Jason Spezza to the St. Louis, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong suggests the best offers have yet to be made in advance of Friday’s NHL draft in Philadelphia.
“Teams always ask for a lot,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That’s why there’s no deals made until the deadlines, whether it’s the trade deadline or the draft. It’s because the marketplace is usually higher. If there’s a need, you pay that price. If there’s not a hard desire, you let it play out. If you let it play out and get too cute, you don’t get the player. But if you’re not comfortable with the price, that’s probably the best decision.”
Armstrong didn’t mention Spezza by name, but it’s no secret the Blues and Anaheim Ducks are front runners to acquire him. The Blues are seeking offence after being bounced in the first round of the playoffs and Spezza has the skill to improve the Blues power play.
Yet with Ryan Kesler — and possibly Joe Thornton – entering the trade market, there’s plenty of poker being played by general managers. The Blues could also chase pending unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny if they don’t land any of those three.
At the very least, the Senators will want an existing NHL player and either a top prospect and/or a high draft pick in exchange for Spezza. In their ideal world, they would receive all three.
It’s believed that Blues centre Patrik Berglund is available. St. Louis also owns three picks in the first two rounds (21st, 33rd and 52nd).
The Ducks, who are well stocked with prospects, have four selections in the opening two rounds (10th, 24th, 38th and 55th). The 10th pick was acquired from the Senators in last summer’s trade which sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa.
Spezza would be keen on joining either St. Louis or Anaheim, because both teams have a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup next season.
“I think now we’ve elevated ourselves onto the majority of the players’ lists,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. “I’m sure we’re not on some players’ lists, but that’s OK. We only want players that want to be here, anyway.”
For what it’s worth, the Blues have never been afraid to make a blockbuster move.
“We’ve been probably one of the most aggressive teams over the last five years in player acquisitions,” Armstrong said. “We’ve moved first-round picks, we’ve moved all sorts of different assets, players entering the prime of their career … I think we’ve been one of the more active teams across the board.”
Armstrong says there is a limit to how much he’s willing to give up.
“To improve this year’s team you probably have to go into areas you’re not comfortable going into,” he said. “That’s the discussion I have with ownership on a daily basis: How much is too much?”
Let the poker games begin.
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