Over the last two seasons, the St. Louis Blues relied on a goaltending platoon of Jarsolav Halak and Brian Elliott that come playoff time leaned entirely on Elliott, who had appeared in as many as 45 NHL games only once in seven seasons.

The Blues were 6-9 in the playoffs over those two seasons. While the team allowed a respectable 2.33 goals per game, the goaltending wasn’t necessarily stealing any games as St. Louis’ postseason campaigns were derailed by Los Angeles in consecutive seasons.

A team that averages 3.26 goals per game while relying on a versatile defense, an excellent forecheck and 200-foot game, the Blues opened the NHL’s trading season by making a bold move to upgrade its goaltending. On Friday, the Blues acquired netminder Ryan Miller and gritty, character forward Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Halak, forward Chris Stewart, forward prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015 and a third-round draft pick in 2016.

St. Louis was the most logical fit for Miller, a 33-year-old bound for unrestricted free agency. As for Ott, he’ll reinforce the Blues’ reputation as a team that’s difficult to play against.

Buffalo now has four first round picks over the next two drafts. It is likely the NHL’s last place team will continue to make moves in advance of the March 5 trading deadline.

 

There are significant ramifications for this deal, which shifts the West’s balance of power in their favor in advance of subsequent moves. As of now, this trade puts St. Louis, which leads the NHL with a plus-60 goal differential, at or near the top of the West’s hierarchy.

The Kings finished their season series against the Blues with a 2-1-0 record, so there are no immediate in-season ramifications. Still, even with Miller, St. Louis is seen as a preferred postseason opponent to Chicago, a team that knocked Los Angeles out of the playoffs last season and creates unfavorable match-ups. Because of postseason reform that pits second and third place teams within each division against each other, the chances of a third consecutive playoff meeting are slim, and at this point projecting hypothetical Kings series down the playoff road is a flighty and hysterical endeavor. But the Kings are 16-4-0 against the Blues over the last 20 regular season and playoff games, so anything that pushes the needle – even ever so slightly – towards an imaginary Los Angeles-St. Louis matchup and away from an imaginary Los Angeles-Chicago matchup should be seen as a subtly positive development.


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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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