Friday, March 22, 2013

Blues deal D'Agostini to Devils for conditional pick

Players returning from injury, recent play of Porter,
Cracknell made winger expendable in numbers game

With injured players returning to the lineup and the potential for a logjam on their roster, the Blues have traded winger Matt D'Agostini to the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

The Blues also sent the Devils a conditional 2015 seventh-round pick and will get a conditional fourth- or fifth-round pick from the Devils in 2015. The conditions on the draft picks are as follows: if the Devils resign/qualify D'Agostini, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, the Blues will get New Jersey's fourth round pick in 2015 and they will keep their seventh rounder. If the Devils do not resign D'Agostini, New Jersey's 2015 fifth round pick comes to the Blues and the Blues in return give the Devils their seventh rounder.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Matt D'Agostini (right) dives to make a play against the Ducks' Lica Sbisa at
Scottrade Center Saturday night. It would wind up being D'Agostini's last game
as a Blue after being traded to New Jersey Friday.
The 26-year-old D'Agostini, who had one goal and one assist in 16 games this season in a limited role, was acquired in 2010 from the Montreal Canadiens for second-round pick Aaron Palushaj.

D'Agostini immediately made an impact, scoring 21 goals and adding 25 assists in 82 games during the 2010-11 season, his first full season with the Blues.

D'Agostini has 45 goals and 91 points in 254 career games, including 31 goals and 35 assists in parts of four seasons (161 games) with the Blues. D'Agostini also has played in seven playoff games (four with the Blues), with one goal to his credit. He was in the final year of a two-year, $3.3 million contract that was paying him $1.8 million this season (a pro-rated amount because of the lockout), with a $1.65 million cap hit.

D'Agostini was essentially made expendable with the recent return of players (Alex Steen, Andy McDonald, Vladimir Tarasenko) from injuries. And with T.J. Oshie expected to make his return from injury -- perhaps Saturday in Edmonton -- and the strong play of wingers Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell made D'Agostini expendable.

"We believe T.J. will be ready to play tomorrow, which takes a roster spot," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "We have three players (Jaden Schwartz, Tarasenko and Jake Allen) that could go down to the minors without waivers. We didn't want to take Schwartz or Tarasenko out of the lineup, and Jake is still part of our rotation of goalies, so we made a difficult decision and moved Matt onto New Jersey.

"Hopefully it's a very good opportunity for him and he can go there and play well. We hope it works out well for him."

It's no secret with the recent play of Porter since his recall from Peoria, there was a fear of losing him through waivers if the Blues elected to try and pass him through and get him back to the Rivermen.

"He's got good speed and he's good on the forecheck and he's found a good role with our team right now," Armstrong said of Porter. "I think Matt's game is more similar to some of the other players that we have. He sort of plays in a certain part of your lineup. He's not a fourth line player. His skillset is more suited to play one of the top lines, and with Oshie, (Chris) Stewart and Tarasenko, we just didn't see a fit in there at this time. With Porter, we see a fit in the role he's asked to do."

Also, the Blues are at the moment unwilling to reduce their goalie number down from three, as they want to make sure the recent strong play of Allen, who is 8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .915 save percentage, can be sustained over a longer period of time. Jaroslav Halak, who is 5-3-1 with a 2.38 GAA and .881 save percentage, will play Saturday in Edmonton, nearly two weeks since his last start in Anaheim on March 10. The Blues also at the present time seem unwilling to offer up Brian Elliott in a trade or risk losing him through waivers despite Elliott's struggles (3-6-1, 3.65 GAA and .851 save percentage) in the lockout-shortened season, which has relegated him to the press box as the third goalie.

"As I've tried to say throughout this, it's really a day-by-day situation right now," Armstrong said. "I think Jaro gets the start tomorrow. We'll evaluate that, and then we only have three games left before the (April 3) trade deadline. I think our flexibility will increase a little bit as we get through these back-to-back games."

"... It's a good situation for the team. It may be a difficult situation for the goalies, but ultimately the goalies are part of the team also."

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