ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Looking back on Day 1 of the NHL Draft, former St. Louis Blues defenseman Jamie Rivers says GM Doug Armstrong pulled off some “absolute wizardry,” but it came with a big risk.
St. Louis traded fan-favorite, bruising forward Ryan Reaves (and a late 2nd-round pick) to the Pittsburg Penguins for young center Oskar Sundqvist and an early 2nd-round draft pick. St. Louis also acquired center Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for two, 1st round picks (one this year and one in 2018) and forward Jori Lehtera. A move celebrated by Blues fans for dumping Lehtera and his cap-heavy contract.
But what worries Rivers is the idea of trading prospects and potential for Reaves’ guaranteed abilities:
“For me, Ryan Reaves is a proven product in the role that he plays, and he has developed in the last couple of seasons, especially this last season, into a great all-around player that is responsible defensively, plays physical and can certainly look out for his teammates. Obviously based on the attraction that he had in the trade market, he holds a lot of value.”
Case and point, the defending, back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburg Penguins apparently believe Reaves makes them a better team.
“If it works out, and I hope it does, then yeah, the Blues have done a fantastic job on this trade. Now the only thing that worries me is that we’ve lost, you know what we would call the sheriff of the NHL, that can play a regular shift, but can still play real physical and intimidate. We’ll see how that trade off works out over the course of the next season or two, but you know what, at the end of the day both teams are happy with their trades.”
Hear the full interview with Rivers on Tuesday’s Sports Open Line:
So with the team’s most prominent enforcer off the roster, do the Blues try to find a replacement, or do they move on from that type of player.
River’s possible solution: A one-year deal to Chris Neil.
The Ottawa Senators aren’t going to give Neil and offer to stay, ending his 16-year stay. The 38-year-old is 20th on the NHL’s all-time penalty minutes list with 2,522, and Rivers believes he is a player that can still offer Vladimir Tarasenko some protection from the fourth line.
“He’s a guys I know personally, that is one of best butt kickers in the league,” Rivers says.
Neil recorded four points in 53 games last season, after a 13-point season in 2015-16. Reaves had a career-high 13 points last season with St. Louis.