With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the St. Louis Blues.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Record: 32-17-9, 73 points; 3rd in Central Division
Unrestricted free agents: David Backes, RW; Troy Brouwer, RW; Kyle Brodziak, C; Scottie Upshall, LW; Steve Ott, LW; Carl Gunnarsson, D; Chris Butler, D
Restricted free agents: Jaden Schwartz, LW; Magnus Paajarvi, LW; Ty Rattie, RW; Joel Edmundson, D; Pheonix Copley, G
Projected 2016 draft picks: 7 (1 first)
Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 first)
Needs: Scoring forwards
Surpluses: Experienced defensemen, defensive prospects
Players Potentially in Play: Backes, Gunnarsson, Patrik Berglund, Rattie, Paajarvi, Petteri Lindbohm
Likely status: Buyer
Skinny: General manager Doug Armstrong has been patient waiting for the Blues to have a full, healthy squad before deciding if any changes are needed for the stretch run. The Blues are in a good position to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a fifth straight season. The Blues have remained competitive this season despite being among the NHL leaders in man-games lost because of injury (211). But one area that's been a concern in past postseasons has been the inability to consistently get enough scoring. Being one of the top payroll teams in salary cap, the Blues are on the hunt for scoring wings but would have to make what Armstrong called, an "apples-for-apples" trade to balance the budget and cap. They won't be able to afford taking on a higher contract without giving up something of significance. Their strength lies on defense with up-and-coming rookies Colton Parayko and Edmundson making early impacts to complement Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jay Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson. Rookie Robby Fabbri has made an immediate impact up front. They have a number of players due contracts moving forward and key veterans that can become unrestricted free agents this summer. The looming question, regarding Backes specifically, is do the Blues keep them and potentially receive nothing in the future or trade them now and receive something of value? The loss of Pietrangelo (knee) for up to three weeks or more could force the Blues to rethink their options. Armstrong hasn't made any knee-jerk reactions on the trade front yet. Schwartz recently returned from a 49-game absence because of a fractured left ankle; he and Vladimir Tarasenko are part of the future. One can believe Armstrong will be active around the trade deadline, but it's not a guarantee he'll make a move.