On March 1, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong described contract negotiations with Jordan Binnington and Jaden Schwartz like this: “I go back to the old, ‘We’re the duck on top of the water, but we’re paddling underneath.'”

Ten days later, the Blues stopped paddling with Binnington, agreeing to a six-year, $36 million contract extension with the goaltender.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much paddling with Schwartz, as talks with the forward have been fairly quiet.

So where do things stand with Schwartz, and with the NHL’s trade deadline coming at 2 p.m. CT on Monday, what are the Blues’ plans if he remains unsigned? What about Mike Hoffman? What about other potential moves the club could make?

Here’s what I’m hearing …

The Blues view Schwartz as a huge part of their core. He was drafted No. 14 overall in 2010 and played his first game on March 13, 2012, making him the longest-tenured player on the roster.

In 546 career games, Schwartz has netted 150 goals and 378 points with the club, and now 28 years old, he’s wrapping up a five-year, $26.75 million contract ($5.35 million average annual value).

When the Blues re-signed Binnington, Armstrong believed that Schwartz was the final piece of the core that he needed to get under a long-term contract, according to a source.

But at what cost?

Schwartz has four goals and 14 points in 26 games this season, missing 15 games with an oblique injury. But the player whom Blues coach Craig Berube calls one of the club’s engines is their best analytical forward (25-plus games) with a 51.35 Expected Goals For percentage.

One source said that Schwartz could command a contract similar to Brayden Schenn’s deal but with less term. In September 2019, Schenn signed an eight-year, $52 million extension ($6.5 million AAV), and with one season left on his previous contract, it was essentially a nine-year deal.