If free agency fails, Blues may have to swap offense for defense

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Today could be a day that determines whether the Blues will need to trade a forward - quite possibly a top-six forward.

The Blues have a hole on the left side of their defense and they are trying to fill it via free agency. General manager Doug Armstrong said that the club reached out to several free agents on Sunday, expressing interest.

Armstrong would not confirm whether the team made contact with Ryan Suter’s camp, but the Blues aren’t believed to be in the mix anyway. But they did send feelers out to Florida’s Jason Garrison and Philadelphia’s Matt Carle.

Garrison signed a six-year, $27.6 million contract with Vancouver, and while the Blues may have matched the $4.6 annual average on the contract, it appears they didn’t have much of a chance anyway because the British Columbia-native was looking to play close to home. Some Blues fans may be relieved because Garrison, 27, has had only one above-average year in the NHL, posting 16 goals and 33 points last season.

Carle, 27, might be a higher priority for the Blues anyway. He had 38 points with Philadelphia last season and has 113 points over the last three years with the Flyers. In 2010-11, he had 39 assists and was a plus-30.

Carle is coming off a four-year, $13.75 million contract, which paid him $3.8 million last year. Some are speculating that Carle could be commanding close to $5 million in the open market, and with Garrison receiving a term of six years from Vancouver, teams might need to match that length for Carle, too.

Reports from Sunday night suggested that Carle probably won’t sign until Suter signs. That would make Carle “Plan A” for the teams who lost out on Suter. Carle would be coveted because the options after him dwindle. Phoenix’s Michal Rozsival, Philadelphia’s Pavel Kubina, Toronto’s Jeff Finger, New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador and recent Blue Carlo Colaiacovo are available free agents.