#TradingSZN in St. Louis Re-Makes Rosterby Sean Gallagher | September 18, 2018, 10:50 PM ET
Last year it was in free agency that the Spartans revamped the roster. The results? Not so great, as St. Louis missed the playoffs after making the second round the year before.
This year the changes came a bit earlier, as GM Sean Gallagher got to work in the weeks preceding the expansion draft of the Seattle Grunge and the 2018 Entry Draft, coming this Friday and Saturday, respectively. The results, you might say, have been out of character for a franchise named after an austere fighting force like the Spartans. These trades have instead been splashy.
The first move was with noted SICHL trading villain Guy of the Acadia Golden Bears. Moving a pair of second round picks over two years, St. Louis brought in The Real Deal James Neal to improve their scoring.
"We all like to disparage Guy and those who trade with him, but we've made several deals with him over the years and have always felt like both sides got what they needed. Same case here," said Gallagher.
Next came a move with the new Hamilton franchise, as St. Louis said goodbye to Spartan draftee Phillip Danault and to Brandon Pirri, two players who were coveted by the new GM and who will play prominent roles for the team. In return, St. Louis added a first round pick and a pair of forwards in Zemgus Girgensons and Uncle Leo Komarov. All three acquisitions helped build toward the next two trades made by Gallagher.
On a lazy Tuesday afternoon, long-running talks with the Las Vegas GM finally heated up. With several options on several big trades bandied about, the two finally came to an agreement on what would become a trade guaranteed to shake up both franchises. When all was said and done, signed, affirmed and faxed to SICHL Headquarters, the Spartans had acquired Anze Kopitar, Alexander Radulov and P.K. Subban.
Kopitar immediately becomes the Spartans' first line center, pushing Patrice Bergeron to the second line and Ryan Johansen to the third. Radulov, a 2004 first round pick of the Spartans franchise when it was located in Chicago, will slide in on Kopitar's right side, pushing Neal to the second line and Nino Niederreiter to the third line.
Subban, a guaranteed fan-favorite in the Gateway City, looks to pair up with Zdeno Chara on the top duo. With Cody Ceci destined for the second pairing, what the rest of the Spartans' blueline will look like come the regular season is up for grabs, as Kevin Shattenkirk is an RFA and Luca Sbisa is available to the Seattle Grunge, should they choose to take him.
As for the return on acquiring these three stars? Well, that was heavy. Citing a "have to give to get" philosophy, Gallagher revealed late Tuesday night that Las Vegas' haul was significant.
"They needed youth and cheap contracts. We had those. I knew it would take a monster of a package to get these guys, so I offered a monster of a package."
In the end, the Aces garnered the Spartans' 1st round pick in 2018 (10th overall), Noah Hanifin, Jacob Slavin, Denis Gurianov, Vitaly Abramov, Joshua Mahura, Evan Fitzpatrick and the recently acquired Girgensons, whose jersey, not coincidentally, is heavily discounted at the team store.
Lost in the noise of the big deal, St. Louis also announced that a deal had also been struck with the expansion team. Restricted by tight gag rules, no details can be released on that yet, but unofficial word is that dealing with the new GM was "pleasant."
The team's focus now turns to this weekend's draft, where St. Louis still holds the 13th overall pick, as well as two second rounders and three third rounders and mulitiple other mid-to-late round choices. As for what will happen on Saturday, Gallagher would only say, "We're open to ideas, always. More picks or different picks is what we're after, but anything can happen these days. Wink."
[Editor's Note: Gallagher actually said "wink" and did not actually physically wink.]