Goc Traded to St. Louis

The Blues' new fourth-line center could help shore up some minor weaknesses heading into the second half.

Few would have faulted general manager Doug Armstrong for sticking with a roster that has produced 37 goals and earned 15 of 16 possible points in its last eight games. But the best leaders understand there's always room for improvement, and a Tuesday night trade with Pittsburgh looks like a smart move with minimal risk.

What St. Louis lost in physicality and skating ability with Maxim Lapierre should be more than made up for by the intelligence and defensive presence of veteran Marcel Goc, a two-time Olympian with Germany. Armstrong says although the two players aren't that different, Goc provides a better fit with physical fourth-line wingers Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves.

"Sometimes in the games we saw we were getting caught giving up odd-man rushes and I think it's all three of the players -- (Lapierre), Reaves and Ott -- really like to get in on the forecheck," Armstrong says. "I think this is going to give us a lot of reliability from that center position."

That's an appealing idea to both Ott and Reaves, even though they were shocked to hear about the departure of their linemate and close friend. Lapierre joined the Blues as a free agent prior to last season and quickly earned a reputation as a hard-nosed player ready to make the necessary sacrifices.

He occasionally added some offense as well, scoring nine goals a year ago and two in 46 games this season to go along with seven assists. Goc brings a little more firepower based on his career numbers and has three points in his last four games, but that's not what interested the Blues when trade talks began before the All-Star break.

Pittsburgh's penalty kill ranks fourth in the league at 87.1 percent, and no one played more on the PK than Goc, who averaged three minutes per game. He'll slide into Lapierre's role alongside Ott for the Blues' penalty kill, which ranks 17th at 81.2 percent, though they've killed 32 of their opponents' last 34 power plays.