By Patrick Kelly
In an alternate universe, Taylor Hall is already a member of the St. Louis Blues. In the spring of 2016, it was it least looking that way. The Blues were trying to move Kevin Shattenkirk before the deadline because was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The Blues seemed to have a deal done, the basics of which would have sent Taylor to St. Louis and Shattenkirk to the Edmonton Oilers. The deal ultimately fell through when Shattenkirk made it clear he was not going to re-sign with the Oilers, or any Western Conference team.
Just a few months after the Blues deal with the Oilers disintegrated, the Oilers made a one-for-one deal with the New Jersey Devils that sent Hall to the east and defenseman Adam Larsson up north to the Oilers. The Blues ended up dealing Shattenkirk before the deadline to Washington for Zach Sanford, Brad Malone, and a first-round pick. The Blues ended up giving that pick to the Flyers in a trade that brought Brayden Schenn to the Lou.
While the Blues trading for Hall would have made sense in 2017, it doesn’t seem to add up as we approach 2020. In 2017, the Blues’ highest-paid defenseman behind Alex Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk was Carl Gunnarsson. Colton Parayko was a tall rookie on an entry-level deal, Vince Dunn was still grinding in the minors, and Joel Edmundson was coming off his rookie deal. It made sense for the Blues to trade Shattenkirk to make room for promising rookies, a decision that more than paid off.
The biggest reason the Blues are in talks for this deal would be to first elevate the team as a whole with Hall, but also to fill the void that has been left by injuries, mainly Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues have seemed to barely miss Tarasenko though, as they are 13-4-3 since Tarasenko went down. The exact package New Jersey wants is unknown, but it is known they want a top defenseman and perhaps some picks because they do not have their second-round pick, which was given up in the trade for P.K. Subban. The good news for St. Louis is they have their first-, second-, and third-round picks this year. The only problem is that if the Blues do acquire Hall those picks have a slim chance of being in the middle of the pack and could even be a bottom-five pick again. The main goal of the Devils seems to be a top defenseman. The Blues don’t seem to be in any position to give up a top defenseman especially for someone who would more than likely just be a rental.
Another big reason the Blues shouldn’t go for Hall is that the offense really doesn’t need to add him. If the Blues were to get Hall, the top six would be when they are 100 percent would be Hall, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, and Tarasenko. That means the Blues have to put Ivan Barbashev, Tyler Bozak, Sammy Blais, Troy Brouwer, Sanford, Alexander Steen, and Oskar Sundqvist in the bottom six. It just doesn’t seem like the right move considering Barbashev, Blais, Sundqvist, and Robert Thomas are having career seasons and finding ample time up top.
The Blues are in first place in the West, and currently have a six-point lead over the Avalanche who have three games in hand. The Blues’ solid defense was one of the cornerstones for them in the playoffs and is now even more dangerous with the addition of Justin Faulk. If the team stays on the course they are on and are healthy when the playoffs begin, there is no reason the Blues shouldn’t make another deep run.
Patrick Kelly covers the Blues for 590thefan.com