Where Troy Brouwer Fits In With the Blues

By on July 6, 2015

NHL: MAY 08 Round 2 - Game 5 - Capitals at Rangers

In a move that has been anticipated for weeks, the St. Louis Blues finally pulled the trigger on a trade involving Olympic star and shootout specialist T.J. Oshie. The team shipped the right winger to the Washington Capitals in exchange for right winger Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley and a 2016 third-round draft pick.

The trade instantly began trending on social media on July 2 as a steal for Washington. They get a talented 28-year-old Oshie who can score goals and will most likely play on the first line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom.

Oshie on playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom: “I’d feel like a kid in a candy store, I guess, playing with that caliber of player.”

— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) July 2, 2015

On the St. Louis side the initial feeling among fans was confusion. Many felt that Oshie had more value and the Blues could have received much more for their star player. But as the trade sank in, it began to make more sense for the Blues.

 

Playoff Experience/Locker Room Presence

Oshie was the most likely piece to be moved because he didn’t have a no-trade clause and his playoff numbers (9 points in 30 career playoff games) were some of the most disappointing.

So the Blues traded him to Washington for three players, including a Stanley Cup champion with 78 playoff games under his belt. Prior to the trade, the Blues only had one player who had been past the second round of the playoffs.

For a guy with 46 goals over the past two seasons, people sure are dismissing Troy Brouwer in this T.J. Oshie deal.

— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) July 2, 2015

Brouwer brings more than playoff experience to the Blues. He’s a locker room leader and gritty player who averages about 20 goals per season and is better than 55% in faceoffs. If anything, the Blues swapped Oshie for Brouwer in order shake things up on a team that has become too familiar with losing in the postseason. Brouwer’s locker room presence can help change that tone.

 

New Line Combinations

The trade also makes room for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to shuffle his line combinations next season. Hitchcock has expressed his desire to put David Backes at right wing. With Brouwer now in the mix, the Blues’ top three right wings will be Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes and Troy Brouwer.

Let’s take a look at what the possible top three line combinations may look like.

Vladimir Tarasenko – Jori Lehtera – Jaden Schwartz

David Backes – Paul Stastny – Alexander Steen

Troy Brouwer – Patrik Berglund – Dmitrij Jaskin

These shuffled lines also feature Paul Stastny moving up to be a top-two center, which is what the Blues intended when they signed him to a large contract in free agency last season. The team is hoping the move will allow Stastny to be more comfortable and have a big season. Stastny has also had success scoring in the playoffs, which may also come with added opportunities and ice time.

 

Money

The Blues save about $500,000 swapping Oshie for Brouwer. It may not seem like that much, but the Blues are in the process of signing Tarasenko to a huge new contract and the extra money was used to re-sign goaltender Jake Allen, who was due for a raise.

Jake Allen’s two year deal is for 4.7 million (2.2 million in 2015-16, 2.5 million in 2016-17), AAV of 2.35 million. #stlblues

— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) July 3, 2015

The Blues have a little over $9 million in cap space according to GeneralFanager.com, but much of it will be taken up once Tarasenko and Allen are signed. The Blues may look to explore boosting their fourth line with any money left over. Right now that line includes Ryan Reaves, Steve Ott and Chris Porter.

 

Opportunity for Young Players

The Oshie trade opens the door for a few of the team’s young players. The Blues have top forward prospects Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev looking to make a splash. Both 2014 draft picks have spent the summer in St. Louis working with Blues trainers to get bigger and stronger ahead of training camp. The team is eager to give some fresh talent a chance at the next level and see what they can do.

Although the Blues admit it was difficult trading away Oshie, they had to do something to break the trend of failures in the postseason. In the end, the Blues succeeded in doing what they wanted to do, which is make a hockey trade. Oshie may be moving on but the Blues are looking forward to seeing the impact Brouwer will have on the ice and in the locker room.

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