Instant Analysis: Marco Scandella for Blues 2nd, Conditional 4th-Round Pick

Marco Scandella (28) played for the Montreal Canadiens for 20 games.

ST. LOUIS – Ah, the infamous Army trade strikes again.

The Lowdown

After lots of speculation headed towards an uninteresting trade deadline, the St. Louis Blues finally threw their hat in the ring. Per stlouisblues.com, the Blues acquired left-shot defenseman Marco Scandella, 29, from the Montreal Canadiens. Scandella has 4 goals and 12 points in 51 games played, split between the Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres. After a little bit of re-confirmation, the final return to Montreal is as follows, per capfriendly.com:

  • Montreal receives St. Louis’ 2020 second-round pick,
  • Montreal receives St. Louis’ 2021 fourth-round pick IF the Blues resign Scandella before October 7th, 2020 OR THE Blues win 2 playoff rounds and Scandella plays in at least half of those games (4-7),
  • Montreal retains 50% of Scandella’s $2 million-dollar contract, which expires after this season.

The Blues also proceeded to put Jay Bouwmeester on LTIR and sent defensive prospect Niko Mikkola to the San Antonio Rampage.

The Winner – Montreal Canadiens

If you’re trying to spin to me St. Louis came out on top in this trade, head back to hockey school for a little bit, get your head on right, and then come back to me.

I will refute that at first it was a total fleecing on St. Louis before the full details came to light. The Canadiens were reported to retain half of the salary if the Blues had met those above conditions for the 2021 fourth. Montreal now just retaining half makes it a little better, but look to the Brenden Dillon trade that happened seconds before this one did.

Washington gets Dillon for $1.6, with a 2020 2nd and 2021 conditional 3rd (which has a hell of a condition to meet to make it a 2020). I call this one a fair deal looking at some of Dillon’s advanced numbers and possession metrics, but comparing the deal for a guy like Scandella… most of Dillon’s numbers are better, and significantly better.

On top of all that, Marc Bergevin got Marco Scandella from Buffalo for virtually nothing – a Sabres’ 4th round pick – on January 4th. Yes, of this year. For a no.5 D-man on Montreal’s roster, that’s shy of a highway robbery but above a bonafide steal. I’m not fully convinced that the Habs are now in full “tank mode” but Montreal is in a peculiar position, 8 points out of the playoffs.

Scandella was an overpay, no question about it, and save for trades like Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn, GM Doug Armstrong does not have the greatest history of higher-profile trades (Fabbri, Oshie, Shattenkirk, Stastny, Miller/Ott). For this one, however, I have to cut him some slack; unforeseen, horrifying consequences forced his hand on a defense that is nonexistent beyond their top 7 (I’m sorry, but Niko Mikkola is just not ready yet). After trying to look for some footage on him and dig up some numbers, however, here are my pros (if any) for getting Marco Scandella as a (potential) rental.

Pro 1: “Low” Rental

With Scandella’s contract ending next season, this is a guy the Blues can walk away from easily if he doesn’t impress Armstrong/Berube. Scandella’s cap hit is at $2 million for St. Louis, but also consider the fact that Jay Bouwmeester’s on LTIR, where he will likely stay for the rest of the year (and sadly, perhaps the rest of his career).

Bouw’s contract hit is $3.25 million, combining with Tarasenko’s $7.5. In total, the Blues now have $10.75 million in salary relief, which has $7.9 million remaining at the trade deadline. That gives the Blues some breathing room if they are still interested in a top 6 forward, with the option to let Scandella walk and potentially preserve that 4th-round pick in two years.

Pro 2: Playstyle

The Blues have a defined playstyle that’s won them a Stanley Cup and made them the most successful team in 2019 – defense-oriented and physically exhausting, which is Marco Scandella’s play to a T. Scandella’s also got positive offensive zone starts and Corsi numbers (51.8% and 52.1%, respectively), and has a +10 rating in his 51 games split between Montreal and Buffalo. He’s had a positive xGF percentage the entire year, and per Sean Tierney of the Athletic and chartinghockey.ca, he’s great at controlled exits and setup shots.

What I like the best about Scandella is the penalty kill, which is something the Blues desperately need right now. In their last 10 games, the Blues have allowed 57 shots against, 3rd most since late January. They’ve allowed 10 goals, second behind the Senators. Marco Scandella has PK numbers similar to Colton Parayko’s, 8 hits and 10 blocked shots in just over 97 minutes of penalty kill ice time.

While the numbers for Brendan Dillon’s PK is arguably better, Dillon has also played 23 more minutes of penalty kill time (which, considering San Jose’s standings and the amount of attention Dillon was garnering, is no small beer). I will give props to Army on at least doing his homework on a guy like Scandella, who I heard nothing about prior to this trade.

Pro 3: Replacing Bouw

Obviously the hugest impact was replacing Jay. In one totally unpredictable, terrifying spectacle, Jay Bouwmeester went from our elite shutdown player to considering ever playing hockey again. He’s not a guy that can easily be replaced, even if you pursue a hot commodity like Brendan Dillon. At least with Scadella, he’ll be a great trial guy for St. Louis that maybe sees some minutes with Parayko, Pietrangelo or Faulk, especially as St. Louis is in the “win-now” mentality for this season, with pietrangelo’s contract discussion drawing ever closer.

What Next?

As I mentioned before, the Blues now have under $8 million in cap space in this final week of the trade deadline. It’s been said publicly that Armstrong’s real interest in upgrades lies in a top-6 forward. With Tyler Toffoli being traded to Vancouver, Chris Kreider remains the only plausible option we can see, and we’re not the frontrunners.

Personally, I don’t see the Blues doing much more for this deadline. Yes, the recent skid has been damning and cause for near-panic in St. louis, but I saw the Blues get back to their game that w’ve so dearly missed on Sunday against Nashville. They did go 0-for-4 points in the back-to-back and missed some key finishes, but the hunger and playstyle that the Blues used to win the Cup were definitely present in that game, despite the regulation loss. Hey, Zach Sanford and Ilya Kovalchuk are doing pretty well, eh?

All that said, the options are running low and the ball is officially rolling. Alex Martinez is likely on the move to Vegas, Toffoli, DeMelo, Dillon and Scandella were all shopped today. Most of the d-men are beginning to thin out; now the high-commodity forwards remain in the final 6 days of the trade deadline.

Wrap-up

As I just mentioned, “Win. Now.”

It’s a bad trade for St. Louis, don’t get me wrong. Scandella clearly was not the right fit for Montreal and the fans noted as much with his $4-million-dollar contract. I like Armstrong getting the Habs to retain half, but for basically the same price (if not more) as Brendan Dillon who goes to an equally lethal Washington team, I can’t deny the fact it’s a major overpay.

St. Louis has 5 draft picks for this year’s 2020 draft, four of which are theirs. Their captain is a UFA come this offseason, with one of their other veterans likely done for good. Most importantly, the Blues are 2-7-3 in their last twelve games and desperately need something to get back on track for playoffs. Let’s see where this team takes us, fellas.

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