Trio of Trades For St. Louis

Well, it seems the Spartans are going for it this year, as three trades in four days shore up the team.
by Sean Gallagher | February 7, 2022, 10:12 PM ET

The first trade came seemingly out of nowhere, as none of the players involved on either team had been in the rumor mill. But talks must have meandered a bit from the players that Calgary had publicly put on the block. In the end, St. Louis gave up a 2023 first round pick, long-time Spartan Max Domi and prospects Ville Koivunen and Daniil Gushchin in exchange for a 2023 third rounder and Mark Scheifele.

Scheifele could easily be the team's top center, but has deferred to Anze Kopitar and slid onto the second line.

In a move to bolster the scoring on either the top line or thye second with Scheifele, Sparta next concluded a trade with Edmonton for Phil Kessel. Kessel, the one-time St. Louis draft pick, returns to a team where he still holds many of the offensive franchise records, including all-time points leader, goal scorer and power play goal scorer. Additionally, he will play in his 500th game as a Spartan in just three games' time.

In exchange for Kessel, St. Louis sent the previously acquired 2023 third rounder and Viktor Arvidsson to the Sonics. Arvidsson was acquired in trade just before the season started and had performed particularly well up and down the lineup. A sixth round pick in 2023 also came to St. Louis in the deal.

"I've wanted to bring back Phil for a long time," said GM Gallagher, "With his pending UFA status we thought now might be the time. I see him slotting in with Scheif on that second line and Yegor Sharangovich going back to the top line where he had all that early season chemistry. I think it's a nice boost to our lineup."

The same day as the Kessel deal was completed, St. Louis also made a move to upgrade the backup goalie situation. In exchange for Vitek Vanecek the Spartans brought in Thomas Greiss as the backup to Marc Andre Fleury. Due to his UFA windfall last summer, Banff included a significant amount of cash to even out the salary situation ($10 million making Greiss' half-season cost around $2 million to St. Louis).

Vanecek was a Spartan draft pick and had been with the team in the GHL for a long time before earning the backup duties last year. He was good in his six starts this year, going 6-0, but his underlying numbers meant that the team probably needed to upgrade to spell Fleury more often and to provide a stronger backup in case of injury.

The trades signal a clear commitment to the team wanting to make a strong run in the playoffs, but some questions still remain. Namely, what happens when David Krejci comes back from injury in a few weeks? His spot on the second line seems to be claimed now and the third line has been the same all year. Will he be relegated to fourth line duty? Seems impossible. Would he be dangled as trade bait? Seems plausible.

Also being questioned is whether they'll look to upgrade on the blueline. The current corps has performed well so far, but there are definitley spots that could be better. With the trade deadline just six weeks away, the questions will be answered fairly soon, one would think.


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