If there were any doubt about whether St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong is intent on ensuring his team is not a one-and-done when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup, that notion was dispelled with an exclamation point when he bolstered his blueline by trading for Justin Faulk and immediately signing him to a seven-year contract extension.
Does that mean the Blues will win the Stanley Cup again in 2019? Well, history tells us they likely will not. But by getting the right-shot Faulk and securing him for the next eight years – his extension doesn’t kick in until next season – the Blues have given themselves some serious depth on the back end and something they lacked when they won the Cup last spring: a bona fide rearguard who can run their power play. This extension might not look great beyond Year No. 5, but it gives the Blues more weaponry in the short term.
And they also got something else in this deal if you look closely enough. Take a look at the cap hit Faulk will have for the next seven seasons. It’s $6.5 million, which is exactly what captain Alex Pietrangelo’s hit will be this season, the last of his seven-year deal with the Blues. So if Pietrangelo leaves via free agency this summer, the Blues have buttressed themselves a little against his departure by signing Faulk.
Now it’s important to point out that there’s nothing to suggest that Pietrangelo will leave the only NHL team he has ever known after this season. In fact, all indications are that Armstrong has told to Pietrangelo’s camp that he would like to keep the Blues captain beyond this season. But Pietrangelo is also a player who was a prime candidate to be moved at the trade deadline if the Blues had continued their downward spiral. Pietrangelo wants to be back, but he wants to be paid, too. And a lot can happen in the space of one season. Nobody knows that better than the Blues. So if the Blues and Pietrangelo can’t come to terms, having Faulk in the fold is a pretty good backup plan, particularly with Colton Parayko making the progression he has made. In due time, Parayko will almost certainly be the No. 1 defenseman with the Blues, regardless of whether or not they manage to re-sign Pietrangelo.
On the other side of the trade, the Hurricanes essentially get one pending unrestricted free agent for another. But in Edmundson, they get a Stanley Cup champion who gives them more bite and physical play than they’ve had on a back end that is already considered one of the more elite units in the NHL. With Dougie Hamilton and Jake Gardiner, along with Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, the Hurricanes will have no trouble generating offense from the back end and moving the puck up to their skilled forwards.
“Joel played a lot of minutes on the PK last year and he’s a defensive defenseman,” said Hurricanes GM Don Waddell. “We’re not looking for him to score goals. We need guys who can stop the rush and kill penalties and this is a different type of defenseman we felt would be an addition to our hockey club.”
In Dominik Bokk, the Hurricanes get a prospect who is a year removed from being a first-round pick in the draft. Prior to Klim Kosten breaking out in the pre-season, Bokk was the Blues’ second-ranked prospect. He’s a skilled winger who showed well playing among men with Vaxjo in the Swedish League last season prior to moving on to Rogle, where he’s playing this season. Bokk is essentially what the Hurricanes got for allowing the Blues to negotiate an extension with the Blues. Faulk had a 15-team no-trade list, which prevented the Blues from dealing him to Anaheim earlier this month.
“The value for us as a potential unrestricted free agent wouldn’t have been what the value was today when we made the trade,” Waddell said. “Part of the agreement was that they would pay this price if they could get an extension, so that was what was important for us, to get the most value we could. That’s why we gave St. Louis permission to talk to the player.”
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.