The Blues learned their lesson from last season about relying on AHL guys to carry the load when half of their NHL team goes down. So far, they've picked up some top notch AHL talent with enough NHL time to be serviceable just in case injuries necessitate a shuttle or two to Peoria this year.
Tonight the Blues took a chance on a former NHL superstar turned AHL all-star by signing Jonathan Cheechoo to a one year, $600,000 contract. In 2005-2006 he managed 56 goals, and cemented his reputation as a goal scorer. The previous season, his first full one in the NHL, he was a 28 goal scorer, while the year after his 56 goal campaign, he potted 37. Then 23. Then, in his final year with the Sharks, he scored just 12. In 2009-2010 he was traded as part of the deal that sent Dany Heatley to San Jose, but never regained the scoring touch he was losing in California.
He tried to stick with the Dallas Stars and was invited to their training camp, but was cut during pre-season play. He spent last season with the Sharks - the Worchester Sharks - and was an AHL all-star.
Could he regain his scoring touch? He's a few seasons away from being a useful 2nd line guy, and will probably never be the kind of player who can lead the league in scoring again. Unfortunately, that 56 goal year built up some unreasonable expectations for Cheechoo.
He can be used as a call-up for the Blues and will help the Rivermen in scoring and as a mentor. There's a distinct possibility that he won't make the team out of training camp. This wasn't a huge risk for the Blues, it gives the team depth, and it's a decent "just in case move." Is it an amazing signing? No. Will it help the big club? Only a tiny bit.
But does it strangle the Blues with a large contract for an overrated player? Nope, and that's the name of the game this off-season.