Coming off a 109-point performance in 2021-22, the St. Louis Blues entered this season hoping to stage another Stanley Cup run. Instead, they're mired at the bottom of the Western Conference (3-8-0) amid questions over how they will dig themselves out of this deepening hole.
On Nov. 5, The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford chalked up the Blues' struggles to limited scoring and defensive lapses. A recent pep talk from GM Doug Armstrong did nothing to address those issues.
Four days later, Rutherford examined the options Armstrong faced as their losing skid reached a franchise-high eight games. One of them was trading center Ryan O'Reilly and winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Tarasenko, 30, is among the Blues' scoring leaders with four goals and nine points in 11 games. Cap Friendly indicates his salary-cap hit is $7.5 million though he's earning $5.5 million in actual salary. He also carries a full no-trade clause.
O'Reilly, meanwhile, is struggling this season with just two points thus far. The 31-year-old Blues captain also has a cap hit of $7.5 million but lacks no-trade protection and earns an actual salary of $6 million.
Sources told Rutherford both players would draw considerable attention in the trade market. However, he anticipates it's too early in the season for interested clubs to pursue either player.
That means the Blues will have to wait until closer to the March 3 trade deadline. While both players could fetch solid returns from playoff contenders, it won't help resolve their current predicament.