There’s no need to overanalyze the trade made by Blues manager Doug Armstrong at the NHL trade deadline.

The Blues acquired established NHL defenseman Nick Leddy from Detroit in return for forward Oskar Sundqvist, defenseman Jake Walman and a 2023 second round pick. The Blues also received largely irrelevant 32-year-old minor-league defenseman Lute Witkowski in the exchange.

Armstrong was smart about this, declining to go nuts to obtain a higher-profile defenseman at a preposterously high cost.

According to Money Puck the Blues have a 15.7 percent chance of reaching the conference final, and a 7.8% crack at winning the Stanley Cup. It would have been absolutely stupid to give up prospects and premium draft picks for just a slightly better chance to go deep in the playoffs.

Armstrong wisely took the sensible approach and made an upgrade via the rental method without vandalizing the present or the future. And he was able to maneuver his way through the team’s extreme salary-cap limitations to get this one done.

The Blues aren’t an “all-in” kind of team these days, and Armstrong had the discipline to avoid the kind of high-stakes, short-sighted move that the franchise would regret later.

Armstrong protected assets – picks and prospects – that can be maximized for higher-value trades this summer or beyond. The Blues brought in a solid defensemen without weakening their ability to swing more significant trades before the 2022-2023 season. And that’s important.

With his salary-cap machinations in this transaction, Army also gave the Blues some extra money to play with this summer. For those who say Armstrong gave up too much for a rental … naw, he didn’t. Detroit wouldn’t agree to eat half of Leddy’s salary ($2.75 million) without getting some added sweetener.

Let’s look at what Armstrong sacrificed in this transaction:

The Blues have plenty of draft-choice stock and could afford to part with a second-round pick.

All due respect to Sundqvist, he’s simply not the same player after undergoing two hip surgeries and a repair of a torn knee ligament. Sundqvist’s expected goals-for percentage (39.8%) was the worst among Blues forwards that skated at least 100 minutes at five on five this season.

Walman was undervalued by the Blues. His expected goals-for rate of 54.7% was the best among Blues defenseman that have logged at least 350 minutes at five on five this season. And that rate has been even more impressive (66.4%) in the 12 games since Walman returned on Feb. 15. But Walman’s game has too much finesse for coach Craig Berube, and that made the defenseman expendable.

Bottom line: Walman becomes a restricted free agent after this season, and “Sunny” can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Realistically, did the two players have a future in St. Louis?

No. They did not.

That means Leddy was essentially acquired for a second-round draft choice. Given the market conditions – big advantage, sellers – that isn’t an alarming price for a pending unrestricted free agent. The Blues still can do what they have to do this summer. That’s part of the value of this trade.

As for Leddy, it’s advisable to disregard the local clucking over his minus 33 rating for the Red Wings this season. That’s more of a reflection of the team around him.

If we take Leddy’s expected-goals percentage at five on five with a below-average Detroit team and slot it among Blues’ current defensemen, this is what we see:

Justin Faulk, 48.4%
Torey Krug, 48.2%
Nick Leddy, 47.3%
Niko Mikkola, 45.6%
Robert Bortuzzo, 45.5%
Colton Parayko, 44.7%
Marco Scandella, 41.82%

For Leddy to have an expected goals-for rate better than all but two current STL defensemen – despite playing for a Detroit team that has a .460 points percentage – is impressive. If anything Eddy should do well with the St. Louis cast.

At age 31, Leddy is hardly a fossil. He clocks plenty of minutes at five on five this  and can help on the penalty kill and the power play. (He’ll be on the second PP unit for his Blues’ debut.)

What does Leddy bring to the Blues?

Big-game experience. He’s competed in 121 postseason games. He played 23 postseason games as a member of the 2013 Chicago team that won the Stanley Cup. He played in the Eastern Conference finals with the NY Islanders in 2020 and 2021, competing in 40 games over the two postseasons.

Just to reinforce the point: from 2013 through 2021, only four NHL defensemen have played in more postseason games than Leddy. (Ryan McDonagh, Victor Hedman and Matt Niskanen.)

Service: Leddy ranks 25th among NHL defensemen this season with his average of 18 minutes and 24 seconds per game at five on five.

Steadiness. Among the 65 NHL defensemen that have played at least 1,000 minutes at five on five this season, Leddy has the third-lowest giveaway rate with an average of 1.19 giveaways per 60 minutes. We’ve whined a lot about turnovers this season — so welcome, Steady Leddy.

Versatility: Leddy, a left-handed stick, can be spotted anywhere among the Blues’ defensemen. Just plug him in and play without worrying.

Eddy’s impressive first-pass accuracy should boost the Blues, who frequently struggle on breakouts. His presence should help the Blues cultivate a smoother transition game.

Sorry to be crass, but if this trade reduces playing time for Marco Scandella in a substantial way, the Blues will be a better team. In this case, an addition will lead to subtraction.

Beginning Tuesday night in Washington, the Blues need to get to work and quit their horrendous habit of squandering points through slothful play. After a putrid 2-4-3 stretch the Blues have slipped to fourth in the NHL Central standings – 18 points behind first-place Colorado, and a point behind Minnesota and Nashville.

Leddy will be in D.C. and in the lineup for tonight’s game.

He’s ready to go.

It would be great to say the same thing about the Blues.

Thanks for reading …


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All stats used here were sourced from Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, Money Puck and Evolving Hockey.