St. Louis Blues' ongoing struggle

Well many people here have been talking about the possibility (although slim) of the St. Louis Blues trading Chris Pronger come the trade deadline due to financial issues. I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on their current situation and evaluate the likelihood (if any) of the Blues trading any one of their key players.First I would like to start by presenting a couple of interesting facts about the St. Louis Blues. The Blues, having one of the highest salaries in the NHL have managed to win only one playoff round since their President’s Trophy run in 2000. Since then they have bulked up with big name players like Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight in hopes of solidifying their team. These moves along with a few others have done nothing but increase their payroll and decrease their position in the standings. They have gone 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games and have been losing to some pretty bad teams as of lately. Their visiting record is far from impressive having won only 11 games of 30 so far this season.

A HUGE reason for their lack of production can obviously be attributed to the injuries to All-Star defensemen Al MacInnis and Barret Jackmann. Although they were playing well up until let’s say a month and a half ago, they’ve since plummeted in the standings to being tied for the 8th and final playoff spot with the Los Angeles Kings (A team that I believe is far worse off injury-wise than the Blues) and are showing no signs of improvement as seen in a recent overtime loss to the Sullivan-less Blackhawks (the 2nd worst team in the NHL).

This small market team includes 5 players that are making over $40 million. These numbers are approximate but Tkachuck is around 10mill, Pronger 9.5mill, Weight 8.5mill, Demitra 6.5mill and MacInnis 6mill.

Now MacInnis could very well be done after this year which frees up that salary which obviously also takes away one of their best defensemen and strongest leaders. Also worth noting is that Demitra, Weight and Tkachuck all have no trade clauses. With such high salaries, it would be pretty hard to find any interest around the league.

Then comes Chris Pronger. He is in the same boat in regards to his high salary but this year’s deadline seems to have a large number of quality forwards with relatively low salaries which pretty much rules our Tkachuck, Weight and Demitra. On defense however, the contenders are looking to beef up the defense and some of the richer teams (Colorado, Toronto, NYR, Philly) would likely be willing to take on Pronger’s high price tag for the leadership, stability and ice time that Pronger can provide. Also at 29 he still has plenty of good years left in him which only helps his stock price.

Obviously the only way that he could possibly be traded is if the Blues are out of playoff contention come the trade deadline. I’m almost positive that the Blue’s budget was set under the assumption that they would make the playoffs and if they don’t then they could be in serious trouble financially and would almost certainly have to make some big changes.

Although it may pain them to lose their former league MVP and one of the best defensemen in the game today, trading him may be the only way to save this team from serious financially difficulty. (This is all assuming of course that nobody would want to take on any of the above mentioned forwards). Pronger has a huge stock price and could offer the Blues some very high quality prospects in return.

If I were the Blues GM and in a position where I wasn’t going to make the playoffs, I would have to seriously consider this as a possibility. Although you all may consider Pronger to be ‘untouchable’ when it comes to trades, keep in mind that nobody on this Blues team has really shown that they are worthy of this title due to mediocre play when it really counts (ie playoff time).

The biggest problem that I have with dealing Pronger is that the Blues would lose a serious leader and the backbone of their defense as well as the entire team. As I mentioned above, the Blues could lose MacInnis to retirement (although I hope they don’t) and if they trade Pronger too, they would have a serious lack of leadership on this team so there are many other factors that would have to be considered.

I’m wondering what the rest of you think of the potential situation that the Blues could be facing. Remember, it should be looked at from the perspective of the Blues being out of playoff contention at the March 9, 2004 trade deadline.

Also I’d like to know what changes you might make should the Blues turn things around and go back to being contenders come the trade deadline…a goalie change perhaps??

PS If anyone knows of a website with the contracts of all players around the league I would greatly appreciate it. I am having a hard time finding it and if I had had such information, I would have taken that into consideration as well for this article.

Cheers,

Brett


23 Responses to St. Louis Blues' ongoing struggle

  1. -MJ- says:

    I just can’t see Pronger going anywhere, but if he does get traded, it would likely be to Toronto. JFJ is going to have an easier time giving up youth for a stud in Pronger, than an offensive guy like Gonchar.

    -MJ-

  2. wingedim says:

    If Pronger were on the block, I think JFJ would definately be interested. After all he did come over from St. Louis and ‘knows’ the players. However, I would hope that he would seriously look at what he would have to give up to obtain him. St. Louis isn’t going to give up their top D for nothing and there is finally some depth in St. John’s after years of trading away the youth. If he could get Pronger for what he could get Gonchar for, I’d say do it. If it’s going to be too costly in terms of youth, then don’t.

    That’s my 2 cents

  3. Aetherial says:

    Can’t see the Blues trading Pronger.

    With their contracts, I also can’t see them getting anywhere near value for Tkachuk, Weight or Demitra.

    Macinnis is done for his career I am guessing.

    Most player salaries can be found at www. nhlpa.com… search for a playher then click the link to his bio… it should show his salary.

  4. bluesfan38 says:

    For the record, the Blues have won 3 playoff series since the 99-00 season. 2 in 00-01 against San Jose and Dallas, and one in 01-02 against Chicago. Pronger will not be traded. He is back in his MVP form this year after devastating injuries and is one of three untouchables on the team (Barret Jackman and Christian Backman being the other two). Weight or Demitra will be the first to go if a firesale is to take place. They simply can have not gotten it done this year.

  5. jacosta says:

    The only way that Pronger could go is if someone offers two NHL ready defensemen. This way the Blues can at least divide Prongers time by two. If the team offered a 2nd or 3rd defenseman they could also then add a prospect.

    Yes I will go and offer what I think the leafs could give up.

    If Kaberle. Coliacovo and a pick you could probably get Pronger.

    Hell just offer what they are saying to get Gonchar, becuase that is one hell of a price to pay for Gonchar

  6. Zamboni says:

    There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t have an interest in Pronger, including the Blues obviously.

    At the moment, they’re sitting in ninth, but the Flames and Kings seem to be fading. St. Louis is still very much in this thing, I don’t see them trading Pronger unless they’re certain they’ll miss the playoffs. He’s too valuable to simply jettison to save salary and it isn’t the idiots running the Blackhawks that are running the Blues. It would take a serious offer to land Pronger. Nobody with really valuable draft picks or prospects who aren’t already contributing is a buyer right now. I just don’t see this one happening.

  7. bruinexpert says:

    Thanks for the info…I read an article that I think was on ESPN.com that said that they had won only one since the year that they won the President’s Trophy so I guess it was wrong..sorry about that

    I have a hard time believing that any GM would be willing to give up a guy like Pronger but if you’re seriously looking to cut some salary then he might be the best place to do it because 1) he would get a hell of a lot of youth in return and 2) chances are if they got rid of Weight or Demitra, they would probably have to pick up some of their salaries and get very little in return. 3) that would free up a lot of salary and hopefully they wouldn’t have to make many changes beyond that to get their team salary down.

  8. Habfanforever says:

    Pronger to Toronto? Here we go again. If it really is possible, “JFJ” would have to consider moving Stajan in the deal. Colaiacovo, Stajan and a pick could land you Pronger not only Colaicovo and a pick. (Considering St-Louis picks up a part of his salary)

  9. wingerxx says:

    Pronger shouldn’t be going anywhere…there are too many negative connotations that go along with dealing him. and the no-trade clauses alone for the above players make it even more worth their while to attempt to build more around those guys. Injuries have been the achilles heel of this team all year. They need more depth on the wing, and a puck-mover to replace MacInnis, whose return is up in the air. Bryan Berard would be a nice fit for them either way. It won’t take much to get him, and he’s having an insane year on a pretty bad Blackhawks team. They don’t have a whole lot to trade with, is the problem. I think that they’ll make some kind of deal, but it might not be enough for them.

  10. Kevo13 says:

    Pronger is a Bum. and he looks like he got hit in the face with a can of smashed a$$holes.

    –OUT

  11. Tradedude says:

    damn like 80% of the teams this offseason are gonna be selling. That would make teams even more shittier, which makes games less exciting. Also, the few teams that are buyers (avs,phi,tor,det,sj,etc) are gonna be stacked probably.

    I think they should make it so 20 teams of the 30 are to make the playoffs. Half the league making it, is just too hard, and we’d see more playoff games which, hey, who doesn’t want to see them?

  12. x says:

    Since it’s a given that Pronger would help any team and a lot of St. Louis’ problems are in the goal crease; I’d like to see Buffalo spend what little cash they have for him.

    If Pronger is traded, the Blues should just accept that their in a rebuilding mode and get Norenan and whatever else is necessary to make the deal.

    realistically, if Pronger went to say , the Islanders, that would pretty much guarentee them a playoff spot. Dipetrios’ numbers would improve right away.

    Don’t ask me who the isles would give in return, I wouldn’t know without thinking this through.

  13. gr8haluschak says:

    Ok I have heard all the “problems” that the Blues are going to have with their salary, lets look at some facts first.

    Currently the team has a 58,000,000 salary (this is fron the fouth period) and lets say for the sake of argument the salary cap is 40,000,000

    1) Al Macinnis is probably done, that is no new news so why do I stated that – simple the Blues team salary goes down by 6,000,000

    2) Doug Weight’s contract goes down to 6,000,000 for each of the final 2 years, team salary goes down another 2,500,000.

    3) Mellanby is probably going to be done this year as well, he is unfortunally one of those guys who cannot afford to be involved in a lengthy strike. 2,000,000 more now available

    4) Brent Johnson will not be back so that frees up 1,100,000

    Now all of a sudden a 58 million dollar pay roll has gone down to 46.5 mill

    Now with Demitra, Pronger, and Osgood all becomming free agents one cannot tell me that their combined 19,500,000 cannot be renegotiated down to 13,000,000 or less (just to say together because let’s face fact the Blues are still *relativly young when compared to the Wings, Leafs and even the Flyers so the motivation to keep the team together for a few years is still there), and I say that for the simple fact that with the impending salary cap there is no way any team will be able to sign most of these guys (such as Lidstrom, Pronger, etc) at what they are currently making or more than that.

  14. gr8haluschak says:

    I should clairfy one of my positions if Lidstrom was to become a free agent very few teams will be able to sign him for 10,000,000 because a lot of teams like the Oilers, Sens, Cannots, Avs ( Honestly just about every team is in this position) have most of their money tied up in long term contracts and there is simply no room to work with so unless these guys take pay cuts then they will be out of work. Here is where we will see if Tkachuk becomes a team player and deffers some of his 10,000,000 which I think he will to stay on a contender instead of trying to find a new team.

    The Wings though will not have a problem working him into the cap, but I still think he will take a pay cut as well to lead this group of players – this will finally be his team, because they will be losing a lot of players because of the strike – Yzerman, Shanahan, Hull, Chelios, Hasek (not because of the strike but because of the Wings telling him to hit the bricks), Joseph, and Thomas, all that adds up too 36,000,000. All of a sudden their apperent cap problem is gone as well. Signing him for that much though may harm them more than it benifits them because soon Zetterberg and Datsyuk will want the big bucks and if Hudler and Grigrenko pan out they will be wanting a huge amout of money too.

  15. rojoke says:

    I think the missing piece of this puzzle is Barret Jackman, even more than Al MacInnis is. While Al is still a great asset to the Blues, he compliments Pronger’s game. Jackman, however, plays roughly the same game. If Jackman hadn’t been injured for most of the season, I think that Larry Pleau would be more inclined to deal Pronger if the right offer came along. Now he’s got to see how Jackman recovers from his injury before he can see where both Jackman and Pronger fit into the team’s plans down the road.

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