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In what is a sign that the lockout needs to end -- NOW -- this is the best Blues news that one could find for today.
With the lockout not ending any time soon, seeing as how both sides couldn't agree to what fast food joint to grab breakfast at let alone agree on the terms of the new CBA, more NHL players are signing with European and minor-league North American teams. Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves has decided to join his former teammate B.J. Crombeen in Orlando.
One would hope an ECHL guy'd know better than to pull that, but you never can tell. There's always going to be one player somewhere who feels the need to try to prove his worth to his team by getting pounded into the ice.
The Solar Bears are 9-10-2 and are in last place in their division. I'm not going to think for a second that Reaves can help turn that around, but his addition'll make going to games a little more entertaining for middle-Florida hockey fans. They're also the Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros' ECHL affiliate, which absolutely blows my mind, considering how colorful their jerseys are.
Blues captain David Backes, along with Kevin Westgarth and Mathieu Schneider, participated in an Ask Me Anything thread today on Reddit Hockey.
Break out your best "TPS reports" jokes, because Keven Shattenkirk will most certainly not be tired of hearing those anytime soon. Shattenkirk has decided to join TPS of the Finnish league SM-liiga to bide his time during the lockout.
The NHL's canceled games through December 14th, as well as January's All Star Game. The longer and longer the lockout drags on, the more the NHL's players need to be in some sort of playing condition, and playing in foreign leagues is a great way for non-AHL eligible players to do so. If the Blues want one of their top players to be in playing shape whenever this season begins, if it in fact does, then seeing Shattenkirk head to Finland is probably for the best.
He's in his last year of an entry level contract, and he, along with Alex Pietrangelo, were both hoping on star performances this year to boost their upcoming RFA deals.
Blues goaltender and Jennings Trophy winner Jaroslav Halak has bounced back from an ankle injury sustained in the playoffs, and is looking to keep his skills sharp for the season -- whenever that might be. Reports had him considering joining the KHL team Spartak Moscow, but apparently Halak's taken a different route. He's signed to play with German second-tier league team Lausitzer and will make his first start Friday.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak has signed with Lausitzer of the German Bundesliga. Jaro should be making his 1st start as early as Friday.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) November 21, 2012
Halak's season last year was successful to say the least. After a shaky start under coach Davis Payne, Halak bounced back with the help of Ken Hitchcock's system. He wound up with a 26-12-7 record and a 1.97 GAA and a .925 save percentage. Chances are good those numbers will at the very least be replicated against second-tier competition.
Cam Janssen's a tough guy on the ice, but off the ice his charity work for victims of Hurricane Sandy is showing that he and the current and former Blues players participating have hearts of gold.
It doesn't seem like anything's ever going to get done when it comes to compromise to the NHL's CBA, but four days straight of talks - and the presence of David Backes - should make fans feel a little better.
Poor Alex Steen can't catch a break. He's been playing very well in the SEL with Modo, netting five goals to go along with nine assists in just 15 games played, but he'll be out for three weeks thanks to a "thigh tear."
Fantastic. Three weeks isn't that long -- it's enough time for Steen to heal before he plays any NHL games, since the lockout is starting to look like it'll drag on for at least another month. But still, Blues fans have a legitimate cause for concern when Steen is injured. He's one of the Blues' offensive strong-points, as well as someone who can play on the PK and keep the puck out of the Blues' zone at even strength. This is the last player the Blues need to be injured yet again; honestly, I couldn't tell you who the first would be.
Just because there's no NHL hockey going on right now doesn't mean that you can't still see legends in action. Or, well, guys who used to play for your team and/or broadcast for them in action. In the name of charity (Hurricane Sandy relief and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University), former Blues and former Predators will lace up the skates and play a game of shinny.
These two Central Division rivals will have some pretty big names playing on November 10th. The Preds will be represented by J.P. Dumont, Stu Grimson, Dan Keczmer, and assistant coach Lane Lambert. The Blues have Darren Pang, Tyson Nash, Bobby Plager, and Jeff Brown.
Yes, you read that right. Jeff Brown!
If you're in the metro Nashville area and would like to see hockey for a good cause, the game will be held at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin, beginning at 5:30.
Not that this is a shock, but the last CBA offer that the NHLPA refused to sign has been withdrawn. Get ready for a shortened hockey season.
The NHL has said that a CBA needs to get approved by this Thursday if teams want to play 82 games this season. With time ticking away, is an 82 game schedule really even safe?
Well, that was quick. After eight games with the German club Eispiraten Crimmitschau and ten poings (three goals, nine assists) Chris Stewart is moving on. He and friend Wayne Simmonds only signed a month contract with the team, and apparently weren't impressed with the Second Bundesliga team. Or playing in the Second Bundesliga. Crimmitschau offered them a new deal after their one month contract was up, but sensing that more than just one more week of the season was going to be lost, both decided to try their luck elsewhere in a more competitive league. Via RantSports. com and Google Translate come the team's official statement:
The two NHL-loan Wayne Simmonds and Chris Stewart will leave the Eispiraten Crimmitschau early next week. Both players have decided shortly to change during the NHL lockout the club. Because of the already-limited 30-day contract with the West Saxons as early as mid next week runs out, the Ice Pirates have attempted to convince both of another commitment, but in the end accepted their request. Thus Simmonds and Stewart are already packing their bags on Monday.
Both are after the information Crimmitschauer change in the Czech Extraliga in order during the labor dispute in the NHL continues to gain match fitness. At the same time they want to further explore and Europe have thus found a new challenge. Those responsible for the Eispiraten Crimmitschau previously attempted both to further gain for prefixing their involvement in Crimmitschau order to cause the most unique time for all the fans, sponsors and those involved. They also enjoy all at the same time understanding the ultimate decision of Wayne Simmonds and Chris Stewart.
The Eispiraten Crimmitschau wish them both privately and sporting all the best and look forward to another great success for everyone. Be it for their new club, and in the might soon begin NHL season in North America. In addition, the Ice Pirates at Wayne and Chris, and their management to thank for the opportunity to work with them. For all the fans, sponsors and participants an absolute highlight in the history of hockey Crimmitschauer goes initially to the end. Since the change, as mentioned above, takes place at relatively short notice, the two NHL stars Wayne Simmonds and Chris Stewart will on Monday depart from Crimmitschau.
This is, I'm sure, a blow for Crimmitschau in their bid to hold a completely unfair advantage over the rest of the Second Bundesliga/
Remember the story I wrote earlier today regarding how David Backes is cautiously optimistic regarding the NHL and NHLPA reaching a deal on a new CBA? Never mind. From a Backes tweet to Pierre LeBrun, according to TSN, comes this parade rainer-oner:
"We feel our newest proposal took a great step towards getting a deal done. It's too bad the owners don't feel that way and I fear that we may miss an extended amount of time now."
Fantastic. The issue is how the NHLPA proposes getting to the 50/50 revenue sharing split that the owners want. The Players' Association presented three different scenarios as to how to get to that point: gradual reductions over three years, five years, and an automatic switch to 50/50 if the NHL agrees to honor the contracts signed under the last CBA.
Gary Bettman was "disappointed" again today. How a lawyer can be disappointed with a request from people to have contracts honored is beyond me.
Sure, Donald Fehr doesn't seem to care for the new proposed CBA and neither do some of the players. Blues captain David Backes doesn't seem to be one of those who take issue with it.
This is exactly what every NHL fan fears when their teams' players head overseas. What happens if one of their players gets hurt? How is that handled? Will they get the medical care they need, and will they be playing with the team this (or whenever) season?
Unfortunately, the Blues will be dealing with that concerning Vladimir Tarasenko, one of the most anticipated prospects in recent memory. Tarasenko was concussed Saturday while playing in a game for SKA St. Petersburg, and according to that team's doctors, will be out a week. It's a concussion, though -- a week can turn into six months pretty easily. Props to the KHL for responding quickly, but this is still something that will be concerning the Blues and their fans until word comes out of Russia that Tarasenko is lacing up the skates again. Here's to a speedy, but safe, recovery for Tank.
As the first two weeks of the season fall victim to the NHL lockout, players are seeming less and less optimistic that the end will be happening any time soon.
So much for that big national NBC Sports Network broadcast of the Blues' first game of the season. It, with the rest of the opening two weeks, is gone.
Sure. there's no NHL season as of right now, and sure, Vladimir Tarasenko is currently hanging out with SKA St. Petersburg. But imagine if you will a land where the lockout didn't exist, and we were looking forward to the Blues beginning their season shortly. A happy, magical place where hockey happened on a professional level in downtown St. Louis, not half a world away.
Pretend that fans and pundits are wondering about line combinations. Oh, wait, Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch actually is? In an interview with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, he asked where Tarasenko would be placed in the line-up. Tarasenko is a bit of a brusier and space clearer who can benefit from folks who can either get him the puck. He loves to get people out of the way for his team's speedsters. Speedsters who can pass... that sounds like Andy McDonald.
"Our plan was to play one line together all the time and see where it gets and that was (Andy) McDonald, (Alex) Steen and (Vladimir) Tarasenko. That was our plan. The rest we were going to experiment with. We were going to keep twosomes together. We were going to keep (David) Backes and (T.J.) Oshie together, (Patrick) Berglund and (David) Perron together, we knew that worked. But that’s the one line (McDonald, Steen, Tarasenko), we met with all three players and we said this is the line that’s going to stay together from start to finish. It’s going to practice together, it’s going to play together and I don’t see us coming off that.
"I watched those guys. They skated out here as a group and the two or three times they skated together they looked terrific. And both Alex and Andy had really embraced Vladi, and the whole team embraced Vladi, so I think if we started up tomorrow, we wouldn’t change our mind on that at all. We really feel confident that it would be a good combination to start and go with."
In other news, Hitchcock is still looking at defensive pairings with the loss of Carlo Colaiacovo in the off-season. He's hesitant to break up Roman Polak and Kris Russell (who is currently injured), but still doesn't seem too hung up on doing so if he needs to.
Fans knew that this was coming. NHL games through the first two weeks of the season have fallen victim to the lockout.
Open your eyes. He's doing this in the SKA St. Petersburg uniform. Still, solace can be taken in the fact that he'll be doing things like that in the 'Note soon, right?
Right? Well, he would be if a) the season would start and b) one of his linesmates was Ilya Kovalchuk.
Soon, friends. Soon.
Vladimir Sobotka isn't the only Blue named Vladimir taking a foreign league by storm. Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, selected 16th overall in 2010, had spent a portion of last year with SKA St. Petersburg. He had some words with the coach regarding playing time, and was geared up to start the season with the Blues this year. The lockout's seen him return to SKA, and it doesn't look like he'll be worrying about playing time any time soon.
Blues Russian prospect Vladimir Tarasenko had 2 goals today in SKA St. Pete's 5-2 win over Ak Bars#stlblues— Norm Sanders (@NormSanders) October 1, 2012
Yeah, I think that playing time is no longer a problem at all.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wants to "give back" to the community during the NHL lockout in the form of free coaching sessions.
Vladimir Sobotka won't ever move any higher than the third line on the Blues' depth chart. He's a grinder and he's a hard worker, but he doesn't have that scoring touch that those on the top two lines have. He wears down the opposition; he doesn't score on them.
Well, in the NHL, that is. In the Czech Extraliga, Sobotka is all-star material. A few days ago he had a goal and three assists for Slavia Prague in their 5-2 win against Pardubice. In 73 games last season, Sobotka had five goals and fifteen assists. So far in five games? Eight points. He's on pace to score over 115 points in 82 games. Who would have thought that the little spitfire had it in him?
If the lockout lasts much longer, Sobotka might be starting in the Extraliga all star game.
One of the byproducts of the NHL lockout is that television stations with contracts to air hockey are short a very important part of that contract: the hockey. The CBC is considering airing KHL games in the mornings to give hockey-starved Canadians some sort of fix over breakfast; here in America the best shot we have is subscribing to the AHL's version of Gamecenter Live and watching feeds on-line.
Well, that was our best shot until now. According to Jeremy Rutherford, Fox Sports Midwest is considering airing a few Peoria Rivermen games. The Rivermen, who are the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, are also owned by the new ownership group led by Tom Stillman. This could be a good source of revenue for both the team and the network.
Hearing that Fox Sports Midwest may indeed televise a few Peoria Rivermen games if, as expected, the #nhl lockout continues.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) September 29, 2012
Will other AHL teams get their games aired on their parent club's network? That will remain to be seen, considering not every team's AHL club is as close in proximity and relationship as the Blues and the Rivermen.
This was kind of a forgone conclusion, but the NHL has officially canceled their remaining preseason games. Fair well, Barclays Center matchup. Ta ta, Kansas City game. And any other Blues games at home you wanted to see? Fat chance. What's the next step for the league? Cancellation of regular season games, of course! With opening night a scant two weeks away and no end to the lockout even remotely on the horizon, keep your eyes and ears peeled for that news to come out of the front offices shortly.
I know a good many people are throwing their hands up and going "who cares". That's understandable, but it's still lost income for teams and lost pay for people who work the preseason games. It's also a missed chance to see the team's prospects fight for roster spots that most will not get. It's these kids' only chance to wear the Bluenote in Scottrade this season probably (or at least until the Blues' top six forwards are hurt) and the lockout's deprived them of that chance to do so.
The Blues are set to open the season on October 12th against the Colorado Avalanche. That is to be a televised game on the NBC Sports Network. Well, it is in theory. Whether it actually will be televised or not is another story.
The Swedish Elite League has been dragging their feet on allowing NHLers to be signed by their teams, presumably out of a concern that one team might have an unfair advantage over another. Consider Modo to be the first team with an advantage. Blues forward Alex Steen will be joining his hometown team of Modo, where he played the previous lockout. This team's a little different than the last one -- there won't be any Sedin twins, Peter Forsberg, and Markus Naslund this time out.
The league's website announced the news yesterday; presumably with another option for NHLers, more will be heading to Sweden to pass some time. Steen played in yesterday's 2-1 overtime loss to Brynas.
The worst part about the lockout, and something that many of us forget as we sit around wondering when we'll be able to watch our favorite sport again, is that the folks who can least afford it get hit the hardest. The economy's already terrible, and now people who work for the Blues and for the businesses around the Scottrade Center can count on loss of income. Unfortunately, the loss of jobs came today for twenty members of the St. Louis Blues' office staff.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, those twenty job cuts might be permanent as Tom Stillman's new ownership group looks for ways to continue running the franchise on a responsible budget. They haven't been outlandish in spending on players like other franchises have been, which is great to see. What's not great to see is twenty members of the staff fall under the lockout's axe.
The remaining 75 employees aren't exempt from belt-tightening. They've either taken a paycut or switched to working four day work weeks for the duration of the lockout. Remember this next time you're complaining about having to watch the KHL: there are real people really getting hurt by this lockout who can ill afford to.
Chris Stewart, along with close friend Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers, have decided to play for a very unique league during the lockout. According to True Hockey's Andy Strickland, the pair will be playing for Eispiraten Crimmitschau GmbH, which is in the Bundesleague, or the second tier of the professional German leagues. Why the second tier? Because the top tier teams have restrictions on how many locked-out NHLers can sign with the team, and that prevented both of them from signing with the same club. Stewart's been training hard this off season to improve on last season's disappointing 15 goal and 15 assist showing. I'm assuming that he'll do a bit better on his German team than he did last year, and in a shorter amount of time to boot.
Basically, we have two NHL power-forwards on a second-tier German minor league team. I wonder how one says "unfair advantage" in Deutsche.
The Blues have finally released their season ticket holder plan to deal with lost games during the lockout. I received a forward of their e-mail from a STH, and here's what the deal is:
As you know, the National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association have not yet reached agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As a result, the opening of the Blues’ training camp has been delayed, a few preseason games have been postponed, and some of our regular-season games could be postponed or cancelled.
The Blues remain hopeful that this situation will be resolved quickly and that we will be back on the ice soon. We sincerely apologize for this disruption and for the inconvenience it may cause. The Blues organization appreciates your patience and loyalty, we value your support and passion for the Blues, and we look forward to seeing you at Scottrade Center once a new CBA is in place.
We realize that you may have already made a full or partial payment for your ticket plan. In the event that the CBA situation causes games to be cancelled, we offer the following options with respect to such payments:
- Option One: You may leave your payment with us and we will credit your account with interest calculated at an annual rate of 5% simple interest on the portion allocable to cancelled games, to be applied toward future Blues ticket purchases (including playoffs), select events at Scottrade Center or Peabody Opera House or subsequent season ticket renewals.
- Option Two: You may leave your payment with us and we will credit your account with interest calculated at an annual rate of 10% simple interest on the portion allocable to cancelled games, to be applied toward Peoria Rivermen ticket purchases.
- Option Three: You may leave your payment with us and elect interest calculated at an annual rate of 1% simple interest. Your interest may be withdrawn from your account at your request, although we ask that withdrawals be limited to one per month (at the end of month for games not played during that period).
- Option Four: You may request a monthly refund for cancelled games. Refunds will be issued within 10 business days after the conclusion of every month following the official cancellation by the NHL.
Please select one of these four (4) options prior to September 30, 2012. Your payment will stay in your account if you decide not to choose an option. You can select an option online via your account manager by logging onto your account at stlouisblues.com/myaccount, clicking on View/Edit Settings, and then selecting Ticket Holder Options. You can also email your account representative to select an option.
Interest will be paid on the prorated portion of your payment that is allocable to any cancelled games. Interest will be calculated from the point at which a particular game is cancelled to the date on which the interest is used for another purchase or withdrawn from your account. All interest accruals will end once a new CBA is finalized.
Again, we hope that a new CBA will be signed soon, with little or no disruption of the regular season. Once a new CBA is in place, your tickets will be sent to you.
Thank you for your patience and continued support. Please do not hesitate to contact your Blues Account Representative if you have any questions.Sincerely,
Chief Operating Officer
St. Louis Blues
All right then. As a quick run-down, you get 5% interest towards the purchase of tickets, you get 10% interest towards Rivermen games, you can treat it like a bank account and withdraw 1% interest a month, or you can just get a refund. Interesting.
I haven't seen any other team decide to treat their canceled games like a savings account, with cash for withdrawal if necessary. Also, I haven't seen a team offer an added 10% interest that can be used towards their minor league affiliate yet. Sure, there's a 168.4 mile drive that'll set you back 2 hours and 55 minutes (thanks, Google Maps!), but it's hockey. And you'll be able to see Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko play, so there's that.
Well, this was unexpected. As my friend David Rogers posted over at The Blue Note Zone, Blues’ prospect Vladimir Tarasenko’s deal with SKA St. Petersburg has hit a snag. And by snag, I mean he’ll be in Peoria instead unless SKA trades Tarasenko’s rights.
Tarasenko’s agent apparently made demands that weren’t particularly pleasing to the management of SKA, which might mean that they wanted his ice time to go up. As one of the Blues’ top prospects that could benefit greatly from top minutes against top competition, it’s probably for the best that he go down to Peoria and play on the Rivermen’s top line. The competition in the AHL this year will be much more difficult than usual with the influx of regular but young NHLers, and Tarasenko could use the practice.
D-man Roman Polak has signed an agreement with HC Vitkovice of the Czech League and will join the club immediately.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) September 20, 2012
Polak, a stay at home defensive defenseman, had 11 assists and finished +6 for the Blues. Polak previously played for Vitkovice in 2006-2007 before coming to the Blues, scoring one assist and finishing with a -5.
The NHL has announced the cancellation of 61 games across the league because of the ongoing labor dispute with the NHLPA.
This really shouldn’t shock anyone, should it? If you have to choose between playing in the AHL and playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Maxim Afinogenov, who do you pick? Young Blues standout Vladimir Tarasenko chose to return to the KHL and the team on which he racked up 25 points in 30 games, SKA St. Petersburg. According to R-Sport, Tarasenko will be heading to the already impressively stacked team, who are in the KHL what the Pittsburgh Penguins are to the NHL. They’re the league’s premiere franchise with some of the top players, and now they’ve re-added one of the best to the fold.
The question remains: will Tarasenko return to St. Louis? Well, he didn’t have to come here to begin with, so the Blues do have that working in their favor. Kovalchuk won’t hang around after the lockout, either, and Tarasenko still will probably like to have the chance to play in a league with consistent top-tier talent. Regardless of the strides that the KHL has made recently, top-tier still means NHL.
Rob Ramage has spent this past season as an assistant coach for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, but starting soon he'll be back with the St. Louis organization as a part-time amateur scout. Former Blue Basil McRae is resigning his scouting position to spend more time with his children, who include current Blues prospect Philip McRae.
Ramage is familiar with the Blues organization, having played just under six seasons with the team before being traded to the Calgary Flames in 1988 with Rick Wamsley in exchange for someone you might've heard of : Brett Hull. In the proud tradition of Blues who were traded away, Ramage won the Stanley Cup the next season with the Flames.
Ramage is also known in the St. Louis and Chicago areas for the unfortunate 2003 accident that killed former Chicago Blackhawks captain Keith Magnuson. Ramage was convicted of drunk driving and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released on parole in May and has been a coach with the London Knights since December of last year when he was named assistant coach after Dale Hunter left to coach the Washington Capitals.
The Blues recently hired Dan Brooks as their new video coach. Brooks has an extensive coaching history, beginning with 11 years of college hockey. He was a coach for two seasons of the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. While with Drummondville, he worked with current Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher, leading to a league-best 112 points and a trip to gun for the Memorial Cup. He coached during the World Junior Hockey Championships, in which he was exceedingly successful going 7-2-0-1.
He was an assistant coach with the Peoria Rivermen last year in his first professional job
The Blues have been looking for a defensive upgrade all summer long. They tried for Jason Garrison to no avail. Then they tried to woo Matt Carle, but he decided the Tampa Bay Lightning were a better fit. That removed the top two defensemen from the market (as massive contracts will do), so the Blues'd have to look for an upgrade via trade, right? Back in June they were rumored to be interested in Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames, but still haven't made a move.
It seems the age old saying of "you snooze, you lose" is true, especially when there're division rivals who would both like to upgrade and undercut your team. The Red Wings' defense hasn't been shored up the way they planned this off-season, with Ryan Suter going to the Minnesota Wild and Shea Weber not leaving Nashville. They'll need to upgrade through trade, and Calgary's GM Jay Feaster always seems up for an interesting one, so naturally Detroit's eyes have fallen on Bouwmeester too, reports Brendan Savage of MLive.com.
If Bouwmeester goes to Detroit and not St. Louis, where does that leave the Blues as far as defensive upgrades go? I heard there's a pretty solid defenseman on the market, but he tends to be hurt for 20-25 games a season. What's that, you say? Carlo Colaiacovo? Last time he was an unrestricted free agent, the Blues drug their feet in re-signing him. This time around, it appears he's one of their top options in a very dwindling pool of defensemen.
The Blues' hockey operations staff got a bit of a mix-up and a few additions today, as general manager Doug Armstrong moved some folks around. Former director of player personnel Dave Taylor is now the VP of Hockey Operations. The former holder of that position, Al MacInnis, is now the senior advisor to Armstrong. Former pro scout Rob DiMaio is now the team's director of scouting. The gentleman he replaced, Kevin McDonald, remains the Blues' assistant general manager and the general manager of the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.
The Blues and forward T.J. Oshie were both hopeful that they could get some sort of a deal worked out before the end of the month, and before Oshie was set to meet with an arbitrator over his salary. I had predicted the deal would be around what David Perron's four year, $15.25 million deal was, but the Blues saw that and raised Osh a year and a few bucks:
Oshie's contract is worth an average of $4.175 million per year. Official press release will be available Friday. #stlblues— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) July 20, 2012
Not half bad for Oshie. This deal comes on the heels of a one year, "show us what you got" style of deal. Oshie showed the Blues 19 goals and 35 assists, which apparently translated into a nearly $2 million pay raise per year. The thing is, $4.175,000 is a lot of money for someone who has never cracked 20 goals in his career. Oshie's matured -- you can't argue with that -- but his points and his new salary don't mesh. He brings a lot to the game and is a vital part of the Blues, but it's a tiny bit of an overpayment.
Of course, when you have a team that is a little under $17 million under the cap with 23 players signed, you have money to burn.
#Blues sign Jamie Langenbrunner to a one-year deal.— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) July 10, 2012
Langenbrunner deal with #Blues pays $1.25 million with a very attainable $250,000 bonus.— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) July 10, 2012
Langenbrunner returns to the Blues after spending the 2011-12 on the team, appearing in 70 games while averaging 14:37 minutes on the ice. The 36-year-old veteran scored a total of 6 goals and 24 total points with a shot percentage of 4.7 percent.
The two-time champion joined St. Louis as a free agent last July and helped the team shake from its early cold start to reach the 2012 NHL Playoffs.
The Blues seem to be freeing up some roster space, not for a blockbuster trade, but for the kids who will be attending camp this year. B.J. Crombeen, who spent the last four seasons with the Blues after being claimed off of waivers from the Dallas Stars, has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Crombeen, along with a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft, will net the Blues fourth-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
Crombeen played just 40 games this season, either being a healthy scratch or injured with a fractured right shoulder at the start of the season. He's a rough bottom six guy, who should do the Bolts a world of good. The Blues have more than ample players to fill his role, most notably Ryan Reaves. Reaves' fighting ability and hockey sense, surprisingly good for a fourth-liner, made Crombeen expendable. Happy birthday, Beener -- enjoy Florida.
The Blues haven't made a major signing (unless you're a Peoria Rivermen fan) so far this off-season, nor have they made a splash in the trade market. There are rumors of the latter drought ending, however, with the Blues possibly interested in the captain of the Dallas Stars, Brenden Morrow.
It's assumed that Jason Arnott will not be returning to the fold, and there hasn't been any word regarding Jamie Langenbrunner re-signing like he would like to, so the Blues need some veteran grit. Morrow would supply that. He's 33, but doesn't shy away from anything. He's gritty, he goes to the net, and absolutely has no problem with putting a team on his back if he needs to. Unfortunately, he's also showing twice his age. As Brandon Worley over at Defending Big D, SB Nation's Dallas Stars blog points out:
A degenerative back injury has increasingly gotten worse and is responding less and less to treatment and this season it came crashing down, leading to a point where Morrow would struggle just to turn his head.
Oh, swell. Morrow might do what he can this off-season to improve his conditioning, but if there're nerve issues there, changing your work-out isn't going to fix things. Morrow doesn't let up in his play, and while that'd make him a great role model and a good compliment for the team's style, that could also exacerbate things. There's minimal chance that the Blues have to give up any big pieces for Morrow, but is a trade for someone oft-injured with the potential for more worth it?
Greg Wyshynski points out that Morrow is a good alternative for teams who don't land Shane Doan. Doan, obviously is free, while Morrow would involve trading picks and probably a prospect or two away for someone who is a UFA after this season. Would it be worth it for the Blues to do that for a guy who, when healthy, could be a key piece of a playoff run? If the Blues had a crystal ball that said Morrow would be healthy, then yes. Unfortunately, it's a big risk to take for a position on a team that's already well covered at left wing.
St. Louis is one of 11 NHL teams to reach out to unrestricted free agent forward Shane Doan; Doan's agent confirmed the contact in an email on Monday.
"Yes, there has been interest," Doan's agent, Terry Bross of Lagardere Unlimited, wrote in an email to the Post-Dispatch today.
Doan, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Coyotes franchise, may be willing to leave Phoenix if the future of the team in Glendale, Arizona, becomes uncertain. Doan scored 50 points (22 G, 28 A) during the 2011-12 regular season and has been an impact player for over a decade. Other teams that have reached out to Doan include the Blackhawks and Red Wings.
Blues forward T.J. Oshie is an interesting player to look at. On some times he'd be a second or third line energy guy, a cannonball on skates, if you will. On the Blues he's a first/second line guy due to the makeup of the team. He's a very vital presence on the ice. When he's not in games, it's noticed -- his crashing about with abandon is needed, and he's set up some very pretty goals. This one from the playoffs comes to mind:
Well, that was spiffy, no? Oshie's improved his performance from the season before last -- both on and off of the ice. No missing practice, no two game suspensions. Oshie was by all accounts punctual and professional, and he improved greatly on his 2010-2011 numbers. He wound up with seven more goals (19 to 12) and thirteen more assists (35 to 22) while playing almost thirty more games due to a lack of injury. Oshie proved himself to Doug Armstrong and the team, which is why today's announcement of his going to arbitration shocked some fans.
Arbitration doesn't necessarily mean that Oshie can't get a deal done before his date; chances are good that the negotiations were hinging on what teammate David Perron wound up with. Perron's four year, $15.25 million total contract isn't half bad and is probably something Oshie and his agent wanted to eyeball.
Oshie has an upside over Perron in that he doesn't have a concussion history. Oshie also can command a bit more leverage because he lived up to his one year "prove yourself" deal. The Blues probably want Oshie longer than a couple seasons; two more years and Oshie finishes his contract as a UFA. Oshie, in exchange for giving up some of his UFA time, probably would like to get monetary compensation in line with Perron's. Can you justify that?
When you take into consideration points per game on average (.59 for Perron, .668 for Oshie), Oshie has the slight edge. When you look at injury history, Oshie's aren't the kind where there's a level of paranoia after suffering them. Would it be appropriate to offer Oshie a deal similar to Perron's? It would not surprise me if Doug Armstrong would think so. Does Oshie accept the offer? Why not?
NHLPA confirms that #stlblues forward T.J. Oshie has filed for salary arbitration.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) July 5, 2012
More Armstrong on Oshie: "Our goal is to work out a long-term deal. We think that he showed us last year that he's a very good NHL player."— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) July 5, 2012
Oshie, who is a restricted free agent, put up 54 (19 G, 35 A) points in 80 regular season games with St. Louis during the 2011-12 season.
There were three major RFAs that the Blues needed to take care of this summer, and two of them are inked. Chris Stewart signed a one year deal several weeks ago, and today the Blues avoided arbitration by signing key forward David Perron to a four year, $15.25 million contract extension. Terms of the contract are as follows:
Perron will make $3 million in 2012-13, $3.5 million in 2013-14, $4.25 in 2014-15 and $4.5 million in 2015-16. #stlblues— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) July 5, 2012
Not half bad. Perron, who was drafted 26th overall in 2007, has made quite a career for himself with the Blues despite missing two thirds of 2010-2011 and a decent portion of last season due to a concussion. He has 173 points in 292 games, and played portions of last season on both the top and second line. He finished second in goals behind captain David Backes with 21 despite not starting his season until 25 games in.
The Blues' remaining big RFA is TJ Oshie, who intends to file for arbitration today if a deal cannot be reached for the team. That ensures that he should be with the team for either one or two more seasons, though the Blues would probably like to sign the forward to a longer contract.
The Blues have taken another UFA off of the market today by signing gritty fourth-line center Scott Nichol to a one-year contract extension. Nichol played in every game but two, scoring three goals and five assists, but his real asset is in the face-off circle. His 57.6% on the dot all but guaranteed that whoever was on his line was going to get the puck and get it out of the Blues' zone, contributing to the league's best defense.
Nichol is a non-stop hard worker, and a great veteran presence. He adds all of this at a cap hit that should be less than a million dollars (terms of the deal not released yet). All one has to do is watch a Blues game to understand how important a fourth liner like him is to the squad.
It was practically a no-brainer for Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong to re-sign Ken Hitchcock. WIthout firing former coach Davis Payne and bringing Hitchcock aboard, there’s a chance that Armstrong doesn’t win GM of the year, and there’s an even bigger chance that the Blues don’t finish the season second in the Western Conference.
Hitchcock has been re-upped through the 2013-2014 season, with an option for the following year. Hitchcock, is just the sixth coach to lead the Blues to a 100 point season, and this year’s was the first in over a decade.
Said Hitch regarding the extension:
“Regardless of what happens in a few years, I want to stick around for a long time. This is it for me. This is my last stop,” Hitchcock said. "I want this to be a successful franchise for the next 10 or 15 years, and I want to be part of it even if I’m not coaching. "
Someone’s bought into what Doug Armstrong’s preaching, and it’s not just Hitchcock. It should be the fans, as well. With that level of determination from a coach as good as Hitch, bright things are in the future.
The Blues have obviously given up hope in signing the top defenseman UFA this summer, Ryan Suter. Why do I say that? First the tire kicking of Jason Garrison, now the possibility of a trade for Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. Calgary fans would be fine with ditching their much maligned and extremely well-paid (he has two years left for $6.6 million a year) defenseman. St. Louis has been very forward with saying that they would like to add a top four guy, and JayBo can score. He had five goals and 24 assists last season, but his +/- was a God awful -21. As a matter of fact, he's a career -54.
If the Blues will be letting Carlo Colaiacovo walk, and why else would they need a top-four guy unless that's happening, they might want to replace him with someone who has a +/- that's not worse than -50. He was a +23 with the Panthers in 2006-2007, but that seems to be a little bit of an outlier.
To give perspective on available defenseman who will be UFA as of this Sunday, CapGeek.com has a good list. There seem to be quite a few more capable ones than Bouwmeester.
Lost in the whole off-season kerfluffle of if Barret Jackman was coming back, or how long T.J. Oshie's contract offer is going to be was the fact that the Blues had an impending free agent that it was paramount to lock up. Well, worry no more, Blues fans. The Fox Sports Midwest broadcasts will not have a new look next season, as Darren Pang has renewed his contract and will remain in the broadcast booth as color analyst with John Kelly. Panger mentioned this tonight on KTRS' Hockey Tonight program.
Darren Pang also moonlights with NBC and TSN, most notably for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Winter Classic. This past off-season he was trusted to interview members of the Los Angeles Kings and got lost in the locker room celebration. Here's hoping that soon he'll be interviewing his own team instead of the guys that swept the Blues out of the postseason.
The Blues have made no secret that they’d like to add some defensive depth in the top four, spelling the end of the Carlo Colaiacovo/Mr. Bill of defensemen era. The top four for right now has a bit of a hole on it next to Alex Pietrangelo, assuming that Barret Jackman sticks with being paired with Kevin Shattenkirk. The Blues need a guy with a big shot for the power play, and one that’s responsible. Will they trade for one? Absolutely. Would it be even better to not lose any assets and acquire one during free agency come July 1st? Of course.
Florida Panthers’ defenseman Jason Garrison will be a UFA, and although the Panthers would more than likely like to retain his rights, the blueliner is on the Blues’ radar. He could do well on the power play, which took the better part of half of last season (or longer) to become effective.
Garrison, who has only played for the Panthers, had 16 goals and 17 assists last season and finished the year a respectable +6. In the playoffs he had a goal and two assists, and finished a -2.
The 2012-13 NHL schedule is out, so take a complete look at how the season shapes up for the St. Louis Blues.
The St. Louis Blues finished with the second best record in the Western Conference last season, and much of their success can be tied directly to coach Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne early in the season, and led the Blues to a 43-15-11 record as the head coach. On Wednesday night, Hitchcock was recognized for what he accomplished when he was named the winner of the Jack Adams Award, which is the NHL's version of "Coach of the Year".
Hitchcock wasn't the only member of the Blues' brain trust to take home some hardware: the man who hired him was recognized, too. Doug Armstrong beat out Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers and David Poile of the Nashville Predators to win "General Manager of the Year".
On Monday the St. Louis Blues announced contract extensions for coaches Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett. Both deals are multi-year extensions, according to the team.
"We are pleased to have both Brad and Ray back and excited to add Gary to our coaching staff," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement. "They are all extremely dedicated and knowledgeable coaches that together will give our team an excellent support system going forward."
Both men joined the franchise back in 2006.
The Blues also made an addition to the staff with the hiring of Gary Agnew. Agnew spent 2006-10 as an assistant for Ken Hitchcock in Columbus.
God willing, the Blues’ll be able to play these pre-season games, what with the looming threat of a lockout coming and all. The schedule opens up on Tuesday, September 25th at the Nashville Predators. It’s a busy schedule, with five games in five nights.
Here’s the official schedule — plan those road trips, but don’t book anything just yet:
Tuesday September 25 at Nashville 7 p.m.
Wednesday September 26 at Tampa Bay 6:30 p.m.
Thursday September 27 at Minnesota 7 p.m.
Friday September 28 vs. Tampa Bay 7 p.m.
Saturday September 29 vs. Minnesota 7 p.m.
Tuesday October 2 vs. Nashville 7 p.m.
Wednesday October 3 at Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Saturday October 6 vs. Dallas 7 p.m.
The Blues’ve gotten a bit of a jump this season in securing their free agents. First they re-up RFA Chris Stewart to a one year deal, and now they’ve fixed their sights on the blue line. Long time Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who was their first overall pick in 1999 and won the Calder Trophy in 2003, besting Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg.
After the season ended, Jackman said that he would prefer to stay with the Blues rather than test free-agency, saying that he’s “pretty much grown up in St. Louis.” Instead of seizing on the chance to play elsewhere then retire in St. Louis like so many former Blues, Barret Jackman’ll be around for a while.
The #stlblues have re-signed defenseman Barret Jackman. It’s a three-year deal worth $9.5 million ($3, $3.25, $3.25).
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) June 18, 2012
The Blues had a choice — re-sign someone who knows the system already and who has proven himself to be a leader on or off the ice, or go out and sign someone else who does the exact same thing as Jackman. Why not go with the guy who wants to stay with the only team that he’s known? Despite a poor showing in the playoffs, Jackman finished the 2011-2012 season with a +20 rating.
The Blues' summer has gotten off to a positive start, with the pending entry level contract of Vladimir Tarasenko and the re-signing of Chris Stewart.
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