Happy Friday to everyone and thanks for joining me. As many of you long-time chatters now, we keep this up most of the summer. There are tons of player-specific and game-specific stuff to dissect during the season, but in the offseason we'll get into anything you wish and I'll do my best to answer everything I can. We'll go for about an hour today and we've already got lots of questions in the hopper, so let's get chattin ...
The Blues have definitely got themselves caught in the size vs. speed conundrum. Some of it is understandable because its a copy-cat league and teams will mimic the teams that win the Cup. So when Los Angeles was winning with a big roster, that's what the Blues felt like they needed to do. They had the parts like Backes, Polak, etc. and added more big bodies like Jason Arnott. But then the Chicago's and Pittsburgh's continued their dominance and the Blues said that's the way the game was going, so they talked about following but never did until this year. I still maintain that if Backes takes the Blues' four-year deal, they still would have talked about being a big team, but when he took Boston's offer, then they preached speed and skill. So now here they are with not a lot of size up front, but not a lot of speed and skill either. And now after saying they wanted to be faster, Armstrong says they need to get bigger. I can understand the fans' frustration. I think what happened is the Blues realized that it's still a big boys lead and they can't forget that.
If we all remember back to when the Blues and Wolves got together, we knew this was a possibility. There was talk that Vancouver grew tired of the relationship with the independently owned minor-league team and that's why they were moving on. It's hard to fault the Wolves because they are concerned with growing their produce and putting people in the seats and making money, but they are after all in business with an NHL team who is supplying the prospects and paying the salaries of those players. So you can see how the head-butting is going to happen. The Wolves didn't have any options last year other than the Blues, so the Blues had control and used it to gain power over the coaching staff. That proved to be very good for the Blues and led to a lot of success for the Wolves. But with Chicago now having an alternative option (the Vegas Knights), a separation with the Blues was obvious. The Blues will probably be better off in a year that the two moved on from each other, but it is a bad situation for the Blues to be in in 2017-18.
I elaborated on how it slipped away in the last answer, but I'll address the "shared" arrangement moving forward. Vegas is the primary supplier of players to the Wolves and now is in the situation that the Blues were in the first three years with the Wolves. The Blues have no say over anything. They will simply put as many players as Vegas and the Wolves allow onto that team next season. What needs to be understood, because some fans have confused this, is that the Blues and Vegas won't share players. I know that seems obvious but some have asked whether Vegas can call up Blues prospects and vice-versa. Not true obviously. They will simply both be sending prospects to the Wolves.
Thanks for reading! Based on the talking to Thompson's coach at UConn, the World Junior coach and the Blues' amateur scouts, he's got a bright future. He's got the size and skill and that we talked about at the start of the chat. Now we've got to give him some time to see how he develops and grows into his body. We can all get giddy today and find out in four years that it just never came together. I've seen it happen before. But based on what we know and see today, he's got the potential. As far as Thompson or Barbashev being a No. 1 center, it's possible yeah. Thompson has played more wing, though he can play center. So I think he's got a lot to prove before we can say with any certainty that that's his future. Same with Barbashev - still young and some project him as a second or third-line center. But I think he displayed while filling in for Stastny that as an extremely young player he could handle it. However, playing there on a regular basis and producing is a much different story. As an NHL team, you just want multiple players who have that type of talent and hope that one of them develops into that guy and I think the Blues have good options.
That was a very polite way of saying, "Get us Panger!" Haha, I'm kidding. I'll see what his schedule is, but it might have to wait until September because I don't think we're going to be able to pull him off the golf course until then. #JeffCoproud
Armstrong said he hopes to have it wrapped up by the amateur draft (June 23-24). My guess is that it will be done well before then.
My feeling is that the Blues are going into the summer with the idea of tinkering with the roster but exploring some of those guys that you mentioned. So it's hard to say whether the big splash will happen because you don't know if those deals will come together. I would not be surprised at all to see the Blues in on Drouin or Eberle. I'd be a little surprised if they went after Duchene. If Armstrong could pull off something like that, I think he would if he didn't have to give up the farm. If he could move picks and prospects and maybe an established player, perhaps, but he's not giving up young established talent like Parayko or probably even Fabbri. Also, keep in mind that some of this is predicated on what happens with the expansion draft. If the Blues are able to somehow move a guy like Lehtera, that'll open up salary and allow them to do more.
I don't think you're off base, but remember Armstrong has to field an entire team. So while he'd like to sign an elite center, too, when they're not readily available, he's still got to go about his business and put a roster together. Now if you want to criticize him for some of the deals (Lehtera, Berglund, etc.), have at it. I'm not saying those aren't subject to scrutiny and certainly by putting the club in a jam with what he gave Lehtera, the Blues will be in a tough position to pay a guy like Tavares if they could land him. But who knows if those guys are going to become available to you, and in the meantime he's got to put a roster together with guys are available. So I get it, but if was easy to get those guys and sign him, then yeah, he wouldn't be giving these guys the contracts he has.
Certainly the coaches watch, but I don't think they need to see Parayko scoring goals with Team Canada to point them in the right direction. It's tough because you're talking about a different team, different competition level (Norway), etc. The Blues staff is going to have to do a better job utilizing Parayko and they'll spend the summer thinking of ways to do that. For starters, hello, No. 1 power-play unit. But it's going to fall on Parayko, too, to use his ability and use his big shot to capitalize when the Blues do put him in the right position.
I didn't see the article, but I've read enough tweets about the conspiracy theory. My response is "What what?" I mean, I get it, the Blue and Golden Knights are definitely going to have relationship that's a bit different than any other teams in the league. But just because they are sharing an AHL affiliate for ONE YEAR, we're supposed to believe that Vegas will take Lehtera in the expansion draft? Vegas will take Lehtera or whoever if the Blues sweeten the pot and off a draft pick/prospect/etc, not because they're sharing an affiliate. I don't know, maybe I'm naive.
The estimated piece of the expansion fee pie is about $16 million, I believe. I asked Tom Stillman in an interview this week (which will run in Sunday's Post-Dispatch) how much that will help and he said a great deal. But as Stillman added, it's a one-time thing, not something the Blues can count on, so they've got to continue to drum up revenue-generating ideas. As far as the other means of making money, parking is not really an option for them. The concession deal with Levy can not be maximized because Checketts took a lot of upfront money, but the deal as it stands now is not that bad compared to other deals around the league. And the TV contract, in which Checketts also took some up-front money, has a couple of years left on it, so that will turn into some more bank for the Blues when that expires.
Thanks for being a part of it. I haven't spoken to Fabbri in a while, but he was skating toward the end of the season and Armstrong said on locker clean-out day that everything was progressing nicely and the hope was still that he'd be ready for training camp. Certainly a completely tear of the ACL on a young player isn't ideal, but athletes in all leagues have have bounced back and played well. Do they shorten their careers? I don't have any info at my fingertips on that. I've referenced before a guy like Scottie Upshall, who had the same injury as Fabbri (I think in 2010) and he's still moving pretty good.
I've got to make a quick call to my editor, I'll be right back.
OK, back, thanks for waiting a moment.
We're getting ready to ramp up again. It's tough during the season to spend the time on it that you need to. We've already made some great headway, Bernie has some tremendous stories, and I hope that Blues fans will be excited about the book when it comes out. Right now, I don't have a release date, but I'll keep everything posted.
I'm not down there pre-game, but when we go in the locker room after wins, I've heard it all ... rock, country, pop, everything. There's usually one or two players who handle the role of DJ and I can't remember who it's been the past couple of years. It's funny though because a song will come on and you'll sometimes hear guys giving the DJ trouble.
I have been in contact with Hitch recently and will have something in the paper soon. Hitch has made it clear, however, that he won't be discussing the Blues with anyone. I get it, he's moved on and he's still in the league, so it doesn't make any sense to stir things up. Nonetheless, I plan to write soon whatever it is that we end up talking about.
It'll be Hutton. I'm guessing the Blues would love to have Allen-Hutton as the combo again next season with Husso getting more time in the AHL. My question is with no primary affiliate, how are they going to make sure that Husso gets the net somewhere? Perhaps they've got a plan, but I haven't heard it yet.
I don't know why they'd want to trade Hutton if he doesn't get picked up in the expansion draft. For the reason that I mentioned in the previous question, they need him. If Allen got hurt long-term, we don't yet that Husso could handle himself.
I have not heard any rumblings about the league looking into or changing the rule. I think they let the cat out of the bag by installing the cameras and setting up the review challenge. How do you go back now? Sure people don't like it, but how do you go back when the technology is available, even if it is nit-picking? And even if you decided to go back, how do you determine how much time in the o-zone after the offsides is enough? 10 seconds? 12 seconds? Then people will nit-pick that.