Wednesday marked arguably the most exciting day of the NHL season. The NHL trade deadline saw big name players such as Cory Conacher head to Ottawa (via Ottawa Sun) and Marion Gaborik to Columbus (via New York Daily News). Some teams made trades to become legitimate contenders, while others went into full rebuilding mode.
The Blues made some noise before the trade deadline. On Saturday, the team traded for Jordan Leopold (via Associated Press). Leopold is a top-four defenseman who can play the left side well, a weakness of the Blues. Leopold helps build the defensive core while adding some offensive power.
But Doug Armstrong wasn't done.
During the first intermission of Monday night's game between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, Armstrong told Blues analyst Darren Pang the Blues had acquired Jay Bouwmeester (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
Bouwmeester was arguably the most coveted defensman on the market. The Flames were fielding offers from not only the Blues but also from Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston, to name a few. When the trade was announced, many thought the Blues would have had to pay a hefty price for such a player. Instead, the Blues gave Calgary a conditional first-round pick, former first-rounder Mark Cundari and goaltender Reta Berra.
Overall, the Blues made out pretty well. But what does Bouwmeester bring to the Blues?
For starters, Bouwmeester has averaged just over 25 minutes of ice time this season. He eats up a lot of minutes, which is great for figuring out who to pair him with. His left-handed shot is the ideal partner for No. 1 defensman Alex Pietrangelo. He has 15 points on the season, the majority of them assists, which also allows Pietrangelo to unleash his shot from the point.
While Bouwmeester does add another offensive touch to the Blues, he fixes the Blues' biggest problem this season. The defense for the Blues has not been anywhere near what it was last season. His 6'4" frame is ideal for blocking shots from the point or moving bodies from out in front of whoever is in net for the Blues.
Adding Bouwmeester by himself does not automatically make the Blues a playoff team. But with the acquisitions of both Leopold and Bouwmeester, the defense significantly improved. It got much more experienced but didn't get too relatively old either. The offensive power of the first two lines should help bolster the sputtering offense while also providing better defense in front of the struggling goaltenders.
The hottest team is always the team that will win the Cup. If Brian Elliott can find his magic from last season or Jake Allen continues to play like he isn't a rookie, then the Blues could be a very deadly team come playoff time. The Blues should make the playoffs and if they get on a roll, could be a dark horse for the Stanley Cup.
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