Blues chat with Jeff Gordon

Blues chat with Jeff Gordon

Bring your questions and comments about the Blues, their Stanley Cup championship and their offseason, and talk to veteran hockey columnist Jeff Gordon in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.


    Thanks for subscribing to the Post-Dispatch/STLToday.com. Your support is critical to keep local journalism alive. Now, on to the hockey questions and comments . . .
    What teams in the West worry you? Looks like Vegas and the Stars are primed for a run.
    I liked what the stars did, adding Joe Pavelski in place of Jason Spezza. He can win some draws and help the power-play, as Spezza did, but he should offer way more on the power-play. Corey Perry is a big scorer any more, but he'll bang around and add some finishing skills to the supporting cast. And young defenseman Miro Heiskanen is poised for stardom -- a special, special player. That team needed time to figure out Jim Montgomery (and vice-versa), but they came within an inch of beating the Blues in the playoffs and they should come out flying this year.
    As for Vegas, that team is just stacked. Adding Mark Stone creates a powerful Top 6. Paul Stastny could have a big year. Marc-Andre Fleury is still an elite goaltender and that team has depth and skill on the blue line.
    Other than those two, look for Calgary to pile up a lot of points. I liked the bet on goaltender Cam Talbot. Minnesota could be better than you expect under the next GM, since the return of Mikko Koivu and Matt Dumba and the addition of Mats Zuccarello will help some of the younger guys take that next step. Finally, look for Arizona and Vancouver to make a push toward the bracket and add depth to the playoff race. Both teams added proven talent to their talented young nucleus.
    Can the blues play as hard this year as they did in the second half of last year. They grinder teams down in the second half by being relentless. Their offense seems to rely on their pressure defense.
    That would be the big concern for next season. Playing that style takes a toll, as the Los Angeles Kings can tell you. But if Robert Thomas keeps emerging and Jordan Kyrou plays his way into the top 9, this team will have more ability to score off the rush and win different ways.
    How does Kyrou find a way in the lineup? You can’t give him a spot but adding some skill and speed would appear to be important this year, but who loses ice time?
    Kyrou is too talented to keep out of the mix. He had a nice first year in San Antonio, so he needs significant NHL time this season. Zach Sanford, Sammy Blais and Robby Fabbri have played up and down the lines and in and out of the lineup. And right now Pat Maroon is on the outside looking in and Ivan Barbashev is unsigned, so the forecast for the front lines is murky. And injuries inevitably make things murkier.
    If Barbashev signs in Russia, don't be shocked if straight-line banger Mackenzie MacEachern or even Jordan Nolan get some of that fourth-line work. Craig Berube likes both of them.
    Sanford is s player when paired w RoR, is he a player 2/3 line without?
    It's tough to assess Sanford's ceiling. He came out of college early, progressed quickly in the AHL, flashed promise in the NHL . . . and then lost a big developmental year due to his shoulder injury. I see him as a third-line guy at worst -- rangy, good puck controller, some ability to finish around the net. He can play in the middle, he can play on the wing and he can check. He is a very handy guy with the potential to become more.
    Does Army keep Scheen as an “own rental” and let him walk as a UFA. Contracts signed this year suggest at least $6x6 years. That maybe fair but given the cap and ages on the team does he stay or go?
    There is no reason to trade Schenn. The Blues are defending a Stanley Cup and he's a big part of the championship chemistry. As for what happens beyond this season, re-signing Alex Pietrangelo is the top priority. After that it gets interesting. The looming expansion draft forces Armstrong to pencil in his long-term nucleus and proceed carefully with contract extensions featuring no-movement clauses. Schenn could top $7 million per season on the open market if he bounces back with another 70-point season -- an entirely reasonable target if this team fixes the power play. So if I'm Brayden I bet on myself rather than accept a team-friendly deal. And if I'm Armstrong, I play out the season and reassess things before the market opens.
    Hi Jeff, starving for hockey.....heard an interview with Savard, who thinks Blues could be top 10 in PP, can you imagine this team even if we improve a bit come playoff time? Super excited to see what he can do.
    It would be difficult NOT to improve a power play as terrible as what the Blues had last year. Savard was a skilled player with great ice vision, so he fills that void on the coaching staff. Berube knows him, so Marc should have the trust factor on his side as he pushes for change. The Blues have enough talent for two very strong power-play units, so that could be where the team improves this season to enjoy a better start.
    Laine, Point, Marner. Are you surprised by the number of big name restricted free agents that remained unsigned? Would it make sense for an enterprising team with cap space to make an offer to one of these players or would that just be doing the "home" team a favor by setting a contract term they could match? Columbus, Ottawa, and Detroit all have massive cap space that could put Toronto in a pinch if they made an all out play for Marner, especially. Makes more sense then him playing in Sweden.
    Happy Hump Day Commissioner Gordon!

    What do you make of all the high quality RFAs still in the market? This can’t be good for the NHL not to mention the teams themselves. You can’t have a league with guys under contract you know aren’t as good as those you want to sign but don’t have the cap space.
    I trust that Point will sign in Tampa and Toronto will figure out something with Marner. Both of those teams are loaded, both have Cup aspirations and both play in desirable markets. The guy to target with an offer sheet is Patrik Laine. He had a weird year, other than his one outburst against the Blues, and it's not hard to imagine both sides welcoming change. Right now Winnipeg seems more focused on locking in Kyle Connor, a big-time finisher. Laine has made noise about playing in Europe, which is another way to beg for an offer sheet. Any team doing that needs to be serious and not make a weak, easy-to-match offer like Montreal made to Sebastian Aho.
    I do believe once one of these RFAs sign, many others will follow. As I noted last week, top young RFAs are showing some willingness to bet on themselves with shorter-term contracts taking them to unrestricted free agency and the chance to make even more money. So the two contracts add up to more than one maximum-term deal that buys into their free agency years. Such contracts also make it easier for teams to get to their cap number, since players will take a bit less AAV now so they can reach free agency in their prime.
    Another factors: Players insist on lockout-proof contracts heavy in bonuses and front loading. Not every franchise has the cash flow needed to fund those deals.
    Jeff, it looks like it’s “bye bye Barby”. Which guys will get a look in his role? Who do you see getting the “big rig gig” on the third line? Good to know to the Blues have depth up front.
    As noted earlier, Berube likes both Jordan Nolan and Mackenzie MacEachern as fourth-line hit men. Neither offer Barbashev's offensive upside, but either could fit with Sundqvist and Steen. Sammy Blais and Zach Sanford are the two guys most likely to benefit from Maroon's exit, if that's how it plays. Blais could also play hit man on the fourth line. Longer term the team hopes Klim Kostin graduates into such a role. He can manhandle players his own age, but he was only sporadically effective as a teenager playing in the AHL.
    If you look through the rosters, every Stanley Cup winner has featured at least 1 Hall of Fame player. Right now at least, the Blues look to be the first team to break that trend. Jeff, you see anyone on this roster that might one day rise to getting a plaque in Toronto?
  • If Vladimir Tarasenko stays healthy and keeps playing, he could put up big career numbers to back his Stanley Cup credential. He has more star power than Ryan O'Reilly or Alex Pietrangelo, but if those two play forever and win some more, they could feel some Hall of Fame love some day. O'Reilly has picked up some nice hardware already. Pietrangelo could help his cause with a Norris Trophy breakthrough.
    Jeff, I’m just curious why Glenn Hall doesn’t get a lot of love from the Blues management like Bobby P.? I get Bobby is local and around the team a lot but Glenn is the reason I fell in love with Blues hockey back in 1967 and inspired me to play goalie for 45 years, and I’m sure he inspired a lot of other kids back then too. Those Stanley Cup Playoff teams in 67’-70’ helped create an instant bond with the community that knew little or nothing about the game. I wish these guys would get a little more love from management before they’re all gone.
    The Blues have done a nice job reaching out to all the alums. But like you say, it's easier for the guys in town to get that love. Plager has remained involved with the franchise in variety of ways for decades.
    The Blues rounded up a nice crew of alumni for the Cup Parade. Many of them enjoyed it, albeit not as much as Brett Hull.
    One of the big changes from the lockout year was eliminating the center ice line (ie it no longer counts as a line in a 2 line pass) presumably to prevent teams from clogging up the neutral zone and create more stretch passes and more scoring. For a while there's been talk about putting it back due to the unintended consequences of eliminating the red line - e.g. "Four guys sitting there skating backwards" as Darryl Sutter says. What is the rationale for putting the center ice line back? Seems to me it would just make things worse in the neutral zone.
    I don't hear much calling for the return of the checkered red line, expect maybe from defensemen hoping to slow down the forecheck. The game is faster now and more fun. Most teams are trying to play an up-tempo pressure game and not the fall-back game. The change put smaller, faster players into bigger roles for the betterment of the product. Other than figuring out what goaltender interference is or isn't, there isn't much to do.
    Any word on where the Blues stand on making offers to Barbashev and Maroon?
  • Their salary cap space is known to all. It is not a lot of money, about $2.7 million. Armstrong can't bluff because the number is sitting there in black and white. At the moment Armstrong doesn't seem inclined to trade somebody else ahead of training camp so he can make a bigger offer. I believe Armstrong would like to get Barbashev signed for somewhere between $1.5 million to $2 million, then perhaps move somebody at the end of training camp (assuming nobody suffers a major injury) to create some injury replacement flexibility under the cap.)
  • Yes, well, it's almost time for that again. Short summer! And that was a good thing.
  • How does the KHL and the Swedish League compare with the AHL?
  • I'd say Sweden in comparable to the AHL, but with a lighter schedule and a bigger rink that allows players to stay out on the perimeter. The upper end of the KHL falls somewhere between the AHL and the NHL. But again, the bigger rink creates a different game,
  • Jeff, if Barbashev signs with the KHL, are you looking forward to Sobotka Watch 2.0 in these chats?
    No, because the Blues are deeper at forward than they used to be and the next expansion draft will expose a lot of players at his level. Ivan could make real money in the NHL if he can produce one more good season and show third-line upside. He is so close to that breakthrough.
  • Seems like most Cup champs have a super star like Ovechkin or Crosby. Not the Blues. Do you think the Blues' ability to leverage its depth into a championship in 2019 will become a trend or was it just a one-year outlier?
  • I believe the game has changed. Teams are stressing four offensive lines to create sustained pressure. Teams that can put dangerous players on all four lines -- as Vegas did two seasons ago and the Blues did last season -- have a chance to win. Teams that have superstars can also lose said superstars in the postseason when the physical play picks up, ligaments tear and bones break. But deep teams, like the Blues, can keep rolling through the carnage.
    That said, Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the elite goal-scorers in the league. So it's not like this team is devoid of star power.
  • Do you see Reinke or Mikkola pushing for top 6 minutes this season? Even though this team appears to be pretty set with its D, we've seen defensemen surprise before (Edumdson, Parayko, Dunn) and make the team when no one expected.
    Derrick Pouliot is a former eighth overall pick (2012, Pittsburgh) with 200 games of NHL experience, so right now he is No. 8. Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo are fighting to stay in the Top 6, as they did last season when healthy. So that is a strong group, Might Armstrong trade somebody (Joel Edmundson?) at some point? Sure, because Mitch Reinke is ready to fill after a strong rookie season in the AHL and Niko Mikkola seems primed to become the next rangy shutdown defender for this franchise.
    I don't think anyone ever enjoyed anything as much as Brett Hull enjoyed the Cup Parade.
  • Can you imagine what the next day felt like? I've never had a full bookshelf fall on my head, but I'm guessing it was like that.
  • You're hockey commissioner for a day and you are allowed to make any rules change you like. What rule would you change and why?
    Easy fix: Offside challenges are to upheld only of the offending player was more than five feet offside and only if the blatant offside led directly to a goal off the rush. This fixes the most egregious linesmen errors but also eliminates all the stupid nit-picking. A guy is offside by an inch, his team sustains zone pressure, 45 seconds later somebody scores, video guy calls for a challenge and there no goal . . . that's stupid.
Powered by ScribbleLive Content Marketing Software Platform