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The St. Louis Blues pulled a deal out of nowhere. They acquired defenseman Justin Faulk for one NHL player, a prospect and a throw away draft pick.
The St. Louis Blues seemed like they were willing to quietly return to the shadows in the St. Louis sports scene. Despite being Stanley Cup champions, much of the attention had swung to baseball over the summer.

Doug Armstrong had apparently had enough of the St. Louis Cardinals talk. While the Cardinals are looking like they are going to win their division and maybe pull off a Blues-esque turnaround, Armstrong grabbed the attention back.

In a situation that literally came out of nowhere, the Blues traded Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk and a seventh-round draft pick in 2021 to the Carolina Hurricanes and acquired Justin Faulk as well as a fifth-round pick in 2020. Needless to say, Blues nation is buzzing.

What is most interesting about this deal is the fact that everything got done before anyone even knew about it. The Blues completed the trade and extended Faulk with the team without so much of a sniff of any smoke about the trade.

Faulk gets a seven-year extension that will kick in after the 2018-19 season. That was a huge part of the trade because Faulk fits in with the team’s cap under his current salary of just over $4 million. If the extension would have been a re-work of his current contract, it would not have fit.

It is an incredibly interesting deal on many levels, even if you leave the shock value out of it.

The St. Louis Blues take on the Dallas Stars in tonight’s Central Division matchup. This is the second time they are playing each other in the preseason. The Blues downed the Stars with a shutout victory earlier this month.
The St. Louis Blues will look to continue their strong preseason. In their last game with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blues were led by Brayden Schenn (3 pts) and Klim Kostin (2 pts, 5 SOG) to a 5-3 victory.

Opponent’s Record

2-2-0

The Dallas Stars are coming off a 6-0 beatdown given to them by the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Overall, they are 2-2 in the preseason which is a little bit underwhelming for the splash they made in the offseason. One of their losses this preseason was to the St. Louis Blues, so I would imagine they are looking for a little bit of preseason payback.

Blues’ All-Time Record vs. Dallas

135-107-43

According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Blues have collected more points against the Dallas Stars than any other team in the NHL. Over the 291 games against the Stars, the Blues have a total of 319 points (.548 point percentage). These numbers do not matter much in the preseason, but keep it in mind going into the matchups against this tough Stars squad.

Klim Kostin:

Klim Kostin is someone you have probably heard a lot about this preseason but wonder who he is and where he came from. Kostin is a 20-year old forward who scuffled a little bit in the AHL last season. In 66 games, the young Russian put up 24 points and 102 penalties in minutes.

The preseason has been an entirely different story. In just three games with the Blues, he has been lighting up the scoresheet with six points (3 G, 3 A). He has been impressive all month, and I am interested to see how he continues to progress.

Sammy Blais:

Sammy Blais is the other Blue that has been playing with his hair on fire. He also has more points than games played, posting four points in three games. Additionally, he has put a bruising on opponents with twelve hits for an average of four per game. Originally thought of as a bottom tier forward, Blais is showing the potential to be a highly physical but talented top-six forward.

Brayden Schenn:

I am going to keep this spotlight relatively simple. Brayden Schenn put up THREE points in his first preseason game after a short offseason, coming into a contract year. If this does not scream big year, I am not sure what does. I would expect more than one point coming from the 10-year NHL veteran.

Adam Wilcox:

This is the St. Louis Blues, right? We always have to talk about goalies. Adam Wilcox has seen limited time this preseason but has saved all nine shots thrown his way. This Dallas team has a lot of offensive firepower, and it will be interesting to see how he responds against legitimate NHL talent. Hopefully, he will show us exactly how much goaltending depth this franchise really has.

Every time the Blues take on the Stars, it will feel like a playoff game to me. They play us tough every single game, regardless of the time of year. I expect a high scoring affair with a little bit more physicality than you would normally see in a preseason game, especially considering that the preseason is coming to a close. The biggest storyline today will be Klim Kostin. If Kostin can continue to put up this production, we may not be talking about him in the AHL too much longer.

Faulk is a definite upgrade offensively from Edmundson. In four NHL seasons, Edmundson has a toal of 52 points. Faulk’s best single season in the NHL saw him accumulate 49 points.

Faulk is also about the same size. According to hockey-reference, Faulk weighs 217 lbs and Edmundson is 215. So, the only thing the Blues lose is height as Faulk is around 6′ and Edmundson is 6’4.

The one thing to be wary of with Faulk is puck management. He has had 66 giveaways the last two seasons and never fewer than 42 since 2012-13. Edmundson had 41 in 2018-19 and we were all starting to notice the turnovers and getting upset. Are we going to be OK with 20 more turnovers from one person?

It is hard to say that Faulk is a turnover machine. He plays a highly different style than Edmundson and has been getting closer to top pairing minutes, while Edmundson has been in the bottom four. For comparison, Alex Pietrangelo had 50 giveaways in the 2018-19 regular season.

Still, it is a risk. The Blues pride themselves on defense and you don’t want Faulk to be a one-hit wonder the way Kevin Shattenkirk was. He needs to be solid defensively.

Clearly, the Blues are hoping Faulk can help pick up a power play that looks better in the preseason but is still struggling to produce. Faulk is not a miracle worker in that aspect, but he had 6 power play goals in 2018-19 and 12 back in 2016-17. His presence cannot hurt.

What might hurt is the extension. The Blues signed Faulk to a seven-year deal worth $6.5 million per season.

With that kind of money tied up, you have to wonder who might be playing their final season with the Blues. The most likely candidates are Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn.

Both will be unrestricted free agents after 2019-20. Both are likely to want pay increases and already make $6.5 and $5.125 million respectively.

Unless Armstrong pulls off some midseason deals or a trade in the summer of 2020, it seems impossible to afford both. Jay Bouwmeester‘s $3.25 million coming off the books after 2019-20 would help, but likely would not bridge the gap.

Maybe one of them would be willing to accept their current salary. Time will tell on that, but rare are the times people do not want a pay increase when they are deserving and still in their prime.

As a fan, the only thing that slightly worries me about the deal is the length. We are entering an odd period where guys are willing to take a little less money for longer years or a lot more money for the shorter term, but seven years is a long time. Faulk will be 35 by the time that deal ends.

CapFriendly does not have the overall details of the deal yet, so perhaps it is structured to have less of a cap hit later on. You just hope this will not be another Alexander Steen situation where the player is serviceable but not worth the money being given.

Not everyone is on board with this deal. A quick scan of social media seemed somewhat split on it, with a few jumping for joy, a few really mad and most kind of treading water with confusion. Those in the last group were not against the deal, but not really for it either.

The intriguing part of the deal might be Bokk. The message coming out of the Blues front office it made no sense to interrupt Bokk’s season in Sweden to have him come to training camp for the Blues. However, this sudden shift makes one wonder if it was more Bokk’s decision to stay in Europe and the Blues may have become frustrated by that. While he is still young, getting Bokk to North America might have been more difficult than the Blues were letting on.

Pure speculation of course, but not out of the realm of possibility. Or, it could just be the Hurricanes wanted a prospect in the deal and they settled on Bokk. We will likely never know, but as high as the organization seemed on the young German, it is surprising he was traded away so early. It also makes me wonder if the contract negotiations with Edmudson were more contentious than we were led to believe, but I digress.

It also begs the question of defensive organization now. You’re not going to pay someone $6.5 million to be a bottom pair defender, but the Blues now have four right-handed shots.

If you try to go with a strict right and left handed pairing, you are putting Faulk or Colton Parayko on the bottom pair. I just do not see that happening.

Still, the depth the team has now is still impressive. You now have Pietrangelo, Faulk, Parayko, Bouwmeester and Vince Dunn as your top five. Not devoid of talent there.

Once the shock wears off, the deal will be good for this team. The only question now is the salary cap because, until the numbers are massaged, the Blues have absolutely no cap space. That will make in-season call ups fairly difficult. That is for Armstrong to worry about.

From a pure talent perspective, the Blues made another significant upgrade. It is those periphery issues that have us all scratching our heads a little, but if you take the money out of it, Faulk is a big acquisition and should help this team in an effort to defend their Stanley Cup title.

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