Doug Armstrong is a wizard. It’s confirmed. His trades are absolutely wicked. Let’s take a look at his moves that formed a Stanley Cup Championship team, and the moves he’s made to repeat in 2019-20.
On 7/11/2018, I wrote an article titled “Doug Armstrong’s Puzzle is Complete”. I dove into his 2018-19 summer trades/signings and expressed how confident I was in the team he had built. He signed David Perron, Patrick Maroon, and Tyler Bozak. He traded a bag of pucks for Conn Smythe winner, Ryan O’Reilly. But this wasn’t the only summer Doug blew Blues fans’ minds.
The Summer of 17’:
His beautiful streak of St. Louis Blues contracts really started in 2017, when he traded enforcer Ryan Reaves for Oskar Sundqvist and a first round pick. That first round pick would end-up being the highly hyped Klim Kostin. Losing Reaves, a fan favorite, seemed like the end of the world to some fans at the time. However, Sundqvist proved his value this past season and Patrick Maroon was a suitable replacement for Reavo on the fourth line. Klim Kostin was hungry for points this preseason, and it looks like the Blues see even more potential in his development.
Then came the move that changed me from an Armstrong hater to an Armstrong lover…
Jori Lehtera for Brayden Schenn.
Alright, so we also gave-up a 2017 first and a 2018 conditional first, but the fact that Doug got anything for Jori Lehtera made me a fan. He was buddies with Vladimir Tarasenko, but I could never see the Blues making a dent in the playoffs with Jori Lehtera in their lineup.
Brayden Schenn lead the team during the his first season with 70 points. Jori Lehtera had eight. In the past two seasons, Schenn totaled 124 points while Lehtera has recorded a total of 11.
The Blues found offensive productiveness, but Doug wasn’t satisfied with his top six players. He was still missing that number one center.
The Summer of 18’:
Along with the signings stated in the first paragraph, Doug managed to trade Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, and the millions of dollars we were overpaying them them for the one, the only, Ryan O’Reilly.
His puzzle was officially complete. He had all the pieces of a winning team. This is when I started telling my friends we were going to win the Stanley Cup.
Ryan O’Reilly earned 77 points in the 82 regular season games he played. His offensive contributions continued throughout the playoffs, and Blues fans realized what it’s like to have a center who can truly do it all.
Like I said, Doug Armstrong’s puzzle was complete.
The Summer of 19’:
The Blues lose Patrick Maroon, Joel Edmunson, and Dominick Bokk. They add Justin Faulk.
I’ve always been a fan of having an offensive leader who can muck around in the corners like Ryan Reaves, Troy Brouwer, David Backes, or Steve Ott. The Blues lost their big bodied fourth liner, Patrick Maroon, but this is the first season I’m not worried about size.
The NHL’s style of play is changing. Look at Tampa Bay as an example. They were–and still are–built around speed and skill. That’s the direction the Blues are shifting toward, and I’m stoked that Armstrong is ahead of this trend.
Sure, I wouldn’t mind picking up a fourth line grinder to fill that space, but having an open roster spot will generate healthy competition between prospects and other players trying to earn a spot.
The loss of prospect Dominick Bokk tells us that the Blues have confidence in Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin. The Justin Faulk trade was a highway robbery, in my opinion.
Faulk is like Kevin Shattenkirk... except he’s good at defense. The Blues now have (arguably) the best defense in the league. With a solid core and good goaltending, Doug Armstrong has built another Cup contending roster.
I can’t wait to watch these fellas play.
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