NHL Trade Buzz: Blues may seek scoring help as struggles worsen

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Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are eight days remaining until the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET; April 12). Here’s a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

 
St. Louis Blues

It’s fair to wonder if the Blues’ prolonged scoring slump, which coach Craig Berube said might be wearing on the psyche of the players, will prompt action to address the offense before the trade deadline. 

“It definitely does become mental,” Berube said following a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

The Blues have scored two or fewer goals in 10 of their past 12 games. They’re winless in six straight (0-5-1) and have dropped into a fifth-place tie with the San Jose Sharks in the eight-team Honda West Division, one point behind the Arizona Coyotes. Each team has 19 games remaining.

The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall could be an option to help the Blues if they feel the need to address the scoring issues. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported last week that the Blues might be one of the teams checking in on what it will take to acquire Hall. 

The NHL salary cap is a sticking point, but the Blues have the ability to create some extra space by putting forward Oskar Sundqvist ($2.75 million salary-cap charge) on long-term injured reserve. He is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. 

However, it’s not clear when, or if, defenseman Colton Parayko ($5.5 million) will be ready to come off LTIR. The Blues must have the salary cap space to activate him. Parayko is skating with the team when it’s home, but he’s missed 21 consecutive games with an upper-body injury.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has not publicly addressed the deadline recently, but Berube was blunt about the scoring struggles Saturday.

“Playing good hockey, solid hockey and we’re coming out on the losing end, not getting enough pucks in the net in my opinion,” Berube said. “You’ve got to stay mentally strong and we’ve got to find a way to get more pucks in the net.”

 

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have played their way back into the playoff race in the eight-team Honda West Division with wins in four straight games and six of eight since March 22, including four in a row against the Los Angeles Kings.

They are tied with the St. Louis Blues for fifth place, one point behind the Arizona Coyotes. The top four teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It could be enough for them to contemplate adding before the trade deadline rather than subtracting by potentially moving forward Patrick Marleau, who said last week he’d be open to the idea of being traded to a contender if presented with an option.

“We’re in a spot right now with 19 games left to make a push and see where we end up,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. 

However, the Sharks’ next move before the deadline could be impacted by the upper-body injury defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic sustained in the first period of a 3-2 win against the Kings on Saturday.

Vlasic played 5:35 over seven shifts in the first period but didn’t play in the second or third. Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Vlasic, who had scored five points (one goal, four assists) and was averaging 18:09 of ice time in 36 games going into Saturday, will be evaluated Sunday.

Sharks defensemen have been relatively healthy this season, with Vlasic, Brent Burns, Mario Ferraro and Nikolai Knyzhov playing in all 37 games. Erik Karlsson missed four and Radim Simek missed six.

If Vlasic is out for any time, it would test the Sharks at the position and create a potential conundrum before the deadline while they try to determine if they’re a buyer or seller.

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