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Welcome to the NHL draft edition of the chat. The draft gets underway in Chicago at 6 p.m. tonight and will be televised on NBCSN. It's only the first round tonight, followed by Rounds 2-7 on Saturday. The Blues, of course, have two first-round picks tonight, Nos. 20 and 27. They are trying to move up and I wrote about that in today's article. Draft weekend is also a time for wheeling and dealing around the league, as we've seen already today with the Blackhawks. In case you didn't see it, they sent Hjalmarsson to Arizona and Panarin to Columbus, with Saad coming back to Chicago in the Columbus deal. With the table set for tonight, let's get chattin ...
The Blackhawks are blowing up Twitter today. Those were a couple of moves that I would say no one anticipated. Hjalmarsson is one of the very best defensive defensemen in the league. Panarin is electric. HOWEVER, as you guys and gals may have read, Bowman is looking ahead. Those guys each had a couple of years left on their deals and Bowman didn't think they'd be able to re-sign either one of them, so they got what they could now. I can see where you're saying that he's not falling in love with guys, but I think it's more of making a good business move. I think Army has tried to do that in the past, the Shattenkirk situation as an example. He wasn't falling in love with him a couple of years ago when he was putting up a ton of points and tried to trade him. In hindsight, you might say he should have traded him sooner, but I think most people agreed that he could still fetch a good return at the deadline and he did fairly well with a first-round pick and Sanford. There are other situations where I think Army has held onto a guy entirely too long, long after their value had declined.
He's been there all week and when I spoke to him, he was alive, yes. Chicago's moves, and a few others around the league have Blues fans understandably in a tizzy. Perhaps the Blues have something up their sleeve this weekend, perhaps they don't, but to me unless the deal is tied to their first-round draft picks, it really doesn't matter if they make a trade this weekend or in one month. That's the main reason deals are done this weekend, to move draft picks and to free up salary-cap space for free agency. The Blues could make a trade today and appease people, but if it's not tied to their first-round picks and they don't need to free up space, then what difference does it make if they pull off a move to get a guy like Duchene in three weeks? It's a big weekend, but not the end-all, be-all.
I would not trade either. I would keep both Pietrangelo and Parayko (and Tarasenko) and make any other deal with the rest of the roster to better yourself at center. The Blues have picks, they have prospects and they have other talent that could get you a center without giving up those three.
No, I think they'll do something with the money. They've got Fabbri coming back and now Sobotka is onboard, but Perron's departure does leave a void. His $3.75 million cap gives them $10.3 of cap room, enough flexibility to get a good deal done with Parayko and probably add a forward. The Blues have plenty of guys that can play both center and winger, so I don't think it has to be a winger just because that's where Perron played. We all agree they need help in the middle and they'll have enough candidates to replace Perron's minutes.
Not that I'm aware of. He's got a lot of close friends that are GMs, actually. As some anti-Army folks are probably saying to their computer screens, it's not like he's fleeced a bunch of GMs, so they're no longer working with him. I think there's a couple of reasons why we haven't seen the Blues make that many deals. No. 1, it's difficult to do. Even though we've seen a number of deals in the last year and even the last few weeks, it's difficult to make a deal. And No. 2, Army has been reluctant to make any major hockey trades. There were situations like with Shattenkirk, where he tried to get Drouin, and there are other examples of those types of trades. But as much as we've heard Armstrong say that he wants to improve in increments, we've seen other teams get vastly better by making bold moves. This a bit unfair for me to say because I don't know which hockey trades were potentially available to him, but at some point, as I've been saying for a while, he's going to have to make a move that makes this team significantly better.
Definitely. Tough job. Easy for us to criticize, hard for us to walk in his shoes. Army does a very good job of NOT making excuses, or leaking things that he tried to do. He realizes that if it doesn't work, he's got to take the heat and he's fine with that.
I like Doan as a player/person, and I do think the Blues need someone "like" him. But I don't know that he's the answer. Perhaps he'll be motivated by the way things unfolded in Arizona and whoever signs him is going to get 1-2 pretty good years out of him, but I'm not sure that he's the guy that makes sense for the Blues.
Hey, to a fanbase like the Blues, this certainly looks convenient, right? They signed him to the 12-year deal and at the time everyone wondered how they would get out of the end of the contract. Some probably even said, "What, is he going to come up with a skin disorder or something?" Well yes, that's what happened. BUT, this is really nothing to snicker at. It's a serious issue for him, and it's not like the guy couldn't play anymore. He score 26 goals last year and if this wasn't an issue, there's no question he would be back this year and the Blackhawks would love to have him. So this doesn't really qualify as trying to get out of the contract. That said, the Hawks get him in on LTIR (if they don't trade his contract) and they get caps savings. People will say "typical" with regard to the NHL and the Hawks, but I don't know what else the league is supposed to do. Those are the rules for a guy not playing this year. Perhaps the league could be stronger in situations where they know the player isn't ever coming back, but how do you know that?
I may be going out on a limb, but I still think there's a chance he's not with the Blues. Vegas was probably the best option the Blues had, and despite what Army said, I think the Blues did have some conversations with Vegas about what it would cost to take him and the price was too high. I think Army has and will explore other possibilities to move him, but I think those options are going to be very limited and they might have to live with the idea of him remaining on the roster and hope he can get back on track.
It looks like the New York Rangers are clearing up space for Shattenkirk, where most of us thought he would land in free agency. The last I read on the Oshie front was that there was still a chance he stayed put in Washington and that's where he wants to be.
The Blues' schedule has 17 back-to-back sets, but the NHL master schedule has 16, so I believe it to be 16. I don't have a list in front of me that shows every team's back-to-backs, but from what I read, most teams were around 14-15-16 sets. So it is a bit high, but I don't think we're talking about a situation where other teams are 9-10-11.
You would have to think that they checked around, right? It would make sense to see what you could get for him before the trade freeze and then lose a lesser player in the expansion draft. Or at the very least steer Vegas away from Perron by giving up an asset (picks/prospect). But assuming they did check around the league, the return must not have been adequate, and knowing that they checked with Vegas, we know that the price was too high. But keep this in mind, the Blues did lose Perron, but they knew well and good that that was a strong possibility and they were obviously OK with it happening. The salary-cap savings, I believe, is a significant reason why they made that decision. They lose a winger who scored 18 goals last year, but now they have $10.3 million in space and can now perhaps do something more with the money. They could not have done that if they had traded Perron just to move him and got salary back, and meanwhile, they would have lost another player in expansion.
I think they're aware of the angst, but it doesn't make or break potential deals. For example, I know people within the organization were aware that the fanbase was supportive of the idea of trading Shattenkirk, even if it meant missing the playoffs. Some within the club were a bit surprised that that's how some fans felt, but they were aware. Did that lead to Shattenkirk getting traded? No. They made the deal because they found a deal that worked. But they were aware of the angst and as it turned out in that case it was what most fans were pining for.
I got the impressive that it was a similar situation as the Blues and Perron. Neal has one more year left on his deal at $5 million. His production was OK last year (23 goals), but probably not worth $5 million. The cost for the Preds to steer Vegas away was probably too steep and in the end the Preds didn't mind losing him because it frees up salary-cap space. I've heard they want Duchene. We all have to look at the big picture when these decisions are made, not just individual moves.
The NHL said a few days ago that they were not ready to embark on another expansion endeavor soon. Of course a couple of years ago they shot down all expansion rumors and here we are today with the Vegas Golden Knights, so make of it what you will. I would think that Seattle and Quebec will remain on the radar, but nothing appears that far along.
When the heck did I say Lehtera was worth his contract?
It was very well done. The Players' Tribune does use ghost writers, who help athletes like Tarasenko put their stories in print, but give a lot of credit to the tandem of the ghost writer and Tarasenko for doing a great job of telling it in "his words." Not being around the rink in the summer, I haven't really spoken with anyone except for Doug Armstrong and Bill Armstrong lately, so I have not heard any reaction. I should call Cam Janssen and read him the article and ask what he thinks!
Paajarvi is a restricted free agent who is expected to be back. He really helped himself last year, essentially saving his NHL career with his play after getting recalled. I don't know that we're talking about regular second-line minutes here, but I think they'll definitely have him back as a third-line guy who can step in on the second line when needed. In a salary-cap era where quickness is the name of the game, the relatively cheap and speedy Paajarvi is now quite a bargain/asset.
I guess considering the need for help at center, and like I was saying earlier the need for a veteran, you have to look at Thornton if he really is available. But at 37 years old, coming off a knee injury, and as a guy with a fairly dominant personality, I don't know if he's the right fit either. I know I said that about Doan earlier, too, and you can't rule out all of these guys. But to me, if I'm the Blues, you've got your core with Pietrangelo, Tarasenko, Schwartz, and you're giving more young guys opportunity ... I don't know if you suddenly thrown in a Thornton. That really changes the dynamic of the team and I don't know if it keeps you going the same direction.