Blues fans were tired of Jori Lehtera's high-cost pay for subpar play, but the loss of a fan favorite fourth-liner was hard to swallow. Doug Armstrong and the St. Louis Blues weren't messing around at the 2017 NHL Draft this past weekend.
Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
To Pittsburgh: Ryan Reaves, 51st Overall
To St. Louis: Oskar Sundqvist, Klim Kostin (31st Overall)
Ryan Reaves is comparable to Yadier Molina. He's definitely as likable as Yadi. Both are fan favorites. Both are relatively simple players who play their role and then some. Both are leaders. Reaves was a locker-room guy who protected his teammates. His postgame interviews made fans laugh. He knew when to be funny and he knew when to be serious. Reaves is the best enforcer in the NHL, and it's tough to put a price on that position.
HOWEVER, the Blues dealt him to Pittsburgh in return for the 31st overall pick in the 2017 draft and Oskar Sundqvist. When Reaves heard he was being traded for a first-round pick, he said, "OK, obviously that's a bunch of garbage." Classic Reaves. Although Blues fans were sad to hear they'd be losing their favorite fourth-liner, many realized how impressive the trade return actually was. The Blues selected Klim Kostin, who was the #1 ranked European skater by Central Scouting. If it weren't for a shoulder injury last year, he was expected to be drafted in the top ten. It's very likely he'll develop into a core player on the Blues in the next couple years. While the loss of Ryan Reaves stings right now, Kostin's potential should (somewhat) ease that pain.
To Philadelphia: Jori Lehtera, 27th Overall (from Shattenkirk trade), 2018 Conditional
To St. Louis: Brayden Schenn
I don't think ANY Blues fans were stung by this trade. In fact, most of my Twitter timeline was a celebration (@bluesbuzzblog). Brayden Schenn could become the second-line centerman the Blues have been desperately searching for. And if not, at least they aren't paying Lehtera $4.7 million to be outscored by Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak.
Lehtera signed a three-year, $14.1 million contract. In those three seasons, he recorded 100 points while raking-in a hefty $4.7 AAV. This was unsettling for Blues fans who were already deprived of leaders like Troy Brouwer and David Backes due to cap issues.
In Schenn's past two seasons with the Flyers, he tallied 114 points in 159 games played. Not only does he look better than Lehtera on paper, but Brayden wasn't linemates with one of the best scorers in the league, Vladimir Tarasenko.
Doug Armstrong did well at the 2017 NHL Draft. He defied low expectations that were formed after poorly handled past offseasons. While the loss of Ryan Reaves hurts, the dumping of Jori Lehtera is refreshing. The return for both Reaves and Lehtera should bring optimism to Blues fans.