We miss Shattenkirk! He would give expansive answers on any topic. Pietrangelo is fine, but he takes his team leadership role seriously and is careful. Allen is great for a goaltender, somewhere in the middle of the Jon Casey/Grant Fuhr spectrum. Vets like Steen and Stastny are fine, but they aren't Shattenkirk. Fabbri will be good once he gets rolling again. It's a good group overall, but it lost some affability.
He overpaid Stastny, but he had to while filling a gaping roster hole. Fans squawk about Berglund, veterans get paid in the league. He was wise to move on from Backes and Brouwer at those prices. Did he overspend to keep Steen? Perhaps, if Alexander can't get healthy and can't get back to the 200-shot level again. But ov.erall he has managed things well and there are no time bombs waiting to go off, like the Gaborik and Brown contracts in LA, the Hossa deal in Chicago and Zetterberg's eternal contract in Motown. So this team's competitive window will stay open for a long time
Right-shot D-men are at a premium across the league. Asking guys to play their off-side in today's fast-paced, high-pressure game is hard. Up front it's not a huge issue beyond the faceoff circle -- although it should be noted that Armstrong added right shooters Beau Bennett and Oskar Sundqvist for depth. If lefthandedness proves crippling for this team, it will have options. And Tage Thompson could someday add a right-side shooter.
Ott was a valuable bridge/buffer between Hitchcock and the players. Plus he was a fearless defender of teammates. So I'm sure he got a hearty recommendation from Armstrong for his leadership/respect earned in the dressing room. Coaches love having those guys on staff such a connection.
Yes and no. While balanced scoring is hard to match up against, we've seen super lines in Boston, Nashville and Dallas (when Benn was healthy) run amok despite drawing top pairing/checking line attention. Maybe it's my fantasy hockey affinity, but I hate to see coaching "spread scoring" and create three ordinary lines after breaking up a powerful line. As for the Blues, the should have enough pieces now to feed Tarasenko AND still have at least one more strong scoring line.
Joe Sakic has set crazy high prices on Duchene. That team needs a Top 4 D-man in addition to a real prospect and a top pick. Would they make a deal without getting Parayko? Then there is the whole trade-within-division thing. Finally, there is the whole cap thing -- especially for this season. After adding Schenn, I can see Armstrong riding this out to see what becomes of him, Barbashev, Sanford and Thompson.
Yeo may have to keep Ott on the short interview leash, to our dismay.
Lots of mix and match there with their flexibility. All four guys can play multiple spots. The Blues want Schenn to make it big at center, so I expect he will get the biggest opportunity to play there and stay there.
He is a rangy guy, with more growing to do. Not unusual for his age. I am more interesting in seeing if he picks up his playing pace and strengthens his overall game. Body mass is easier to gain than pace and tenacity.
We'll see works best. 1 p.m. works better when there is skate or practice to cover. Today it's noon because that worked better for my schedule.
If they are willing to move him in the division and take less in a deal, Armstrong would have to engage. As I noted earlier this week, the Blues are accumulating a surprisingly good base of prospects for a team that goes to the playoffs year after year.
Yes, it is backloaded. $7 million first two years, then $5.5 million, then $3.5 million. But loading isn't much an issue for acquiring teams as the salary cap hit, which is constant through the contract term.
Carl could be a prime trade candidate, IF he gets bumped by a young puck-mover and IF the other young D-men are progressing enough to provide injury production. Flipping a veteran D-man for a draft pick is another team a team can stay in the playoff hunt year after year.
Yes, players can work to improve on faceoffs just as they work to improve their skating and their shot. But . . . dramatic improvement seems tough to come by judging from the year-to-year stats. On this team, improving on faceoffs (or failing to improve) could make the difference in sticking on the roster or moving along. It could also play into Stastny getting another contract here just to be the D-zone and PP faceoff guy.
That question came up when Yeo replaced Hitchcock. That is something he had to reflect on and learn from. But it should be noted that the Wild hit a lull last year, too, after looking like a President's Trophy team for a while under Boudreau.
Hutton is a valuable back-up. He plays well in that role and that is a gift. As for Husso, he is an interesting prospect, but this is the first I've heard that he is ready to play in the NHL. And I can't think of anybody who got stuck in the minors during the past few years when clearly they belonged on the Blues.
Since the renovations were clearly needed for an aging building and essential for this facility to get future events beyond the NHL, I see this getting resolved. I don't see the sort of broad, entrenched political opposition to it that we saw for the MLS stadium.
IMO Stastny would have more even-strength value on a No. 2 line that matches up against top lines and gets defensive zone starts. If Schwartz sticks with Tarasenko, his heady play could allow Fabbri or Barbashev to work there is Schenn doesn't pain out in the middle. As for a bet, I don't have one. We'll know more in three weeks.
I have not taken attendance, but most guys have been in town for a while now. There is no more "training" at training camp. That is done ahead of time. These days camp is about depth evaluation and season preparation.
I only have a few minutes left. I am actually wedging this chat into an off day with other activities. I will have to bolt at 2 p.m.
OK, that is it for today. We'll know a whole bunch more by next Friday after digesting the Traverse City outcome.