The St. Louis Blues are in quite a conundrum. Earlier this week the team announced that Robby Fabbri will be out for the entire 2017-18 season after re-injuring his surgically repaired knee at training camp. The news that he would miss the entire year was a bit of a shock. Originally the Blues said that he’d be re-evaluated just after the season started.
This is certainly terrible news for the team. Fabbri was a player many were counting on to take on a large role with the organization this season. Without him the Blues’ group of forwards doesn’t look nearly as strong.
So, what options does the team have in this situation?
Option One: Do Nothing
I never said all these options would be fun or exciting. Taking a wait and see approach with the team would be the most cost effective way of dealing with things though.
Last season Fabbri played a total of 51 games, meaning the Blues were without his services for 31 competitions last season. Even without him in the lineup, the team still made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Yes Fabbri’s loss for the entire season has hurt the team, but it’s not like they haven’t played without him before. He’s not the heart and soul of this team and his loss does not automatically mean the Blues won’t make the playoffs.
The biggest problem with the wait and see approach in this situation, though, is that many other Blues players are currently injured. The list of who is currently unavailable for the Blues includes Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and Zach Sanford. Both Steen and Bouwmeester are expected to return early in the season, but if they don’t come back and perform well, the team will truly suffer.
If the team does nothing to address the loss of Fabbri and struggles at the start of the season, it won’t look good on management.
Option Two: Trade
A trade would certainly be more exciting, but also much more complicated than option one. Who do you trade? Fabbri was a player the Blues were hoping would score between 40 and 50 points this year and finding a suitable replacement for someone like that wouldn’t come cheap.
Going into the season the most obvious trade candidate on the Blues right now is probably Paul Stastny. He’s on the last year of his contract and will be 32-years old at the end of the 2017-18 season. The problem here is that trading Stastny (a forward) in order to find a suitable replacement for Fabbri (another forward) just makes no sense.
So how about a defenseman? Trading guys like captain Alex Pietrangelo or Bouwmeester is probably out of the question. Joel Edmundson? Doubt it — he’ll be expected to take on a bigger role with the team this season after the trade that shipped Kevin Shattenkirk out of town at the trade deadline. Colton Parayko just signed a new contract this offseason so he’s not going anywhere. The rest of the Blues defensemen probably aren’t enough to tempt another team into releasing a 40 to 50 point scorer.
There’s always the option of giving up prospects and picks, but how much of the future do you want to give up to replace one guy? Overall trade is probably the worst thing the Blues could do here.
Option Three: Sign Jagr
Yes there are other unsigned free agents out there, but let’s accept that signing Jaromir Jagr is the one everyone would like to see. I actually wrote about why the Blues should sign Jagr back in August and now it makes more sense than ever.
Jagr had 46 points last season — that’s in the range of what most would have expected Fabbri to have this season. Jagr did that on a Florida Panthers team that failed to make the playoffs. The Blues are a better team so you could expect Jagr to have better point totals than last season. Jagr also had eight power play goals last season, just one less than the Blues’ top scorer Vladimir Tarasenko. Imagine if you put them on the power play together. He’d be a perfect replacement for Fabbri’s loss.
Also, all the Blues have to give up to get Jagr at this point is just money. No trading away current players or future assets.
Only Jagr himself knows what kind of money he would like for an NHL contract but it would make sense for the Blues to do their best to meet his demands for a one year deal.