Folks: Jeremy was part of the Sportswriters Round Table event at the Old Newsboys luncheon today (the over/under on refill plates for JR was set at 2.5). He's in transit now to get set up for the chat, so he'll be joining you at about 1:15. Thanks for your patience.
Well, I'm disappointed to tell you guys that if you took the under today, you can collect your winnings ... just one plate today and no refills. It was a pleasure to be at the Old Newsboys event with colleagues Rick Hummel and Jeff Gordon, along with the moderator Tom Ackerman of KMOX. A St. Louis native, I still pinch myself being able to represent the Post-Dispatch and hang out with those guys, so thanks for the invite. Well, I knew I would be a few minutes late today, so we'll extend the chat past 2 p.m. Let's not waste any more time and get chattin ...
Before I answer your Schmaltz question, let me say that I agree with you about the chat. In today's journalism, there are many different vehicles that we're trying, many related to social media. I've got to say that the chat has been one that has stuck and been very popular. I tell people all the time that I get more people coming up to me and asking about something in the chat than I do anything else. So thank for participating ...
Now onto Schmaltz. He was a first-round pick from 2012 and was the last first-round from that year to make his NHL debut. That wasn't so much his fault. He's a defenseman, who take longer to develop, and the Blues had a lot of talent in front of him on the right side with Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk and later Paryko. He couldn't do anything until he got the opportunity. He finally got an opportunity this year and for getting his feet wet I thought he did pretty well. Could he have been better? Of course, but I thought he was good all things considered. Now, where does he stand in the organization? Well, we'll know more after the expansion draft. It may not be likely but the Blues could lose Bortuzzo. They'd have to enter the free-agent market to replace him, I think, and Schmaltz would be a pretty important piece to have as a backup. Also, keep in mind that Schmaltz is a righty and the Blues top prospects (Walman, Dunn, Lindbohm) are all lefties, so that makes him important. But if there's a deal out there, and I'm talking about improving at center, and you have to include Schmaltz in the deal, I think the Blues would do it. But I think they'd feel more comfortable after finding out what happens in the expansion draft.
Yes. NHL teams are required to submit their protected lists on Saturday afternoon and they will be released on Sunday morning, I believe 9 a.m. St. Louis time. Unless I missed a memo, I don't think they're doing anything too special with the lists. I'm assuming the media will get an email and the info will be on the league's website. Either way, it will be disseminated quickly ...
At this point, after taking to Armstrong this week, I don't see it happening. Army doesn't get into player's names or specifics, but I asked him about the concept of sweetening the pot for Vegas to take a player (Lehtera) that the Blues may not want. His response was that he would give up assets to protect a player, but not to lose a player. I suppose you could look at it both ways. If you're losing Lehtera, you're protecting someone else right, so that still fits his logic. But I didn't get the impression that the Blues were willing to cough up assets to move Lehtera. I could be wrong, but that's the way I took it. Does Vegas take Lehtera anyway. I've mentioned the speculation that the Golden Knights may have some interest, but if the Blues aren't offering anything - focusing on if - than I would think McPhee would have better options elsewhere.
According to an email from the league, the Awards and Expansion draft run from 5-7 p.m. (I think that's Vegas time) on Wednesday. Yes, it's on NBCSN.
I had just heard that he wasn't in the mix. No one provided any detail as to why, but we can guess. From a coaching standpoint, there were a lot of concerns about Bylsma and his lack of adjustments coaching Team USA at the Olympics. And secondly, his time in Buffalo wasn't all that impressive either. Sure Buffalo went through some turbulence, losing McDavid and some other things, but the on-ice product wasn't great. So my guess is that Bylsma, despite his connection to Yeo, was probably ruled out by Armstrong from the beginning. I think Berube was the guy they wanted all along, and why not, he had a ton of success last year and is very familiar with the Blues' younger players, so that will help. They just had to wait to see if he got a sniff in Buffalo or Florida. He didn't, so they got their guy.
I like the Blues' roster, I think it's got some solid potential, but I don't like their chances of winning a Cup next year as it's structured right now. They desperately need a top-six center, preferably one that can set up Tarasenko. You've got a prolific scorer who's got his prime years ahead of him, you're playing him $7.5 million a year, and you've got no one on the ice who can maximize his game. We can't let Tarasenko off the hook, he's got to be better. But he needs help. We can go around the league and look at the teams that have a dual threat (Ovechkin/Backstrom), (Toews/Kane), (Crosby/Malkin). I realize they don't always play together, but it gives opponents another guy to focus on. They Blues don't have that as we speak. Meanwhile, I think the Blues have an abundance of bottom-six guys and prospects that have good upside, but the jury is still out on how much they can help. I think Army could really, really change the look of this team with a top-six center. They're very hard to find and you may have to give up a lot, but the Blues have to find one.
I'll have to check out the article. Based on that premise, without reading the article, I don't know how you could argue. In what world does it make sense to take on bad contracts? I realize the fanbase of 30 other teams live in a fantasy world where that's going to happen. But don't tell me that Vegas will have trouble spending without taking on bad deals.
We have to remember that most of us watching from the seats or the pressbox are impulsive. Fans want help now and many don't realize what it costs or what the implications could be. Armstrong, as he's said himself, has to watch from 35,000 feet, always paying attention to the big picture and not getting caught up in losing streaks and scoring droughts. Likewise, he's mentioned that you get better in increments of 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent at a time. I understand that. But at some point, you have to make bold calculated decisions. He's done that a couple of times in the past with Erik Johnson and Jaro Halak/Ryan Miller. The results have been mixed. No one can promise that if Army traded for Tavares tomorrow that it would pay off, but I think you have to make deals like that if they are potentially available. The Blues got a good thing going, yes, but you can find yourself on the cusp, like your chances and continuing to fall short for 10 years if you don't make a move that attempts to put you over the top. Look at Nashville. I realize David Poile has sat idle for many years and the Preds never got over the hump, so let's be careful praising Poile. But Johansen, Subban ... those are big-time hockey trades and they helped. The Blues need some help.
Fabbri has to get back on the ice and produce. He's got skill, I don't know if he's got Drouin skill, but he's a very good player. But he's got to play. Fabbri has one more year left on his deal and it's going to be a big year, coming back from a torn ACL. Right now, he's not a $5.5 million player like Drouin, but he's got the tools to bounce back and put himself in that kind of position one day.
His cap hit is $3.75 million.
There are reportedly a few in place, but the Hawks-Vegas trade is the only one I've seen mentioning some specifics.
It obviously depends on who the Blues protect. If Reaves is exposed, which I don't think he will be, I can see Vegas taking him. I could also see Vegas having interest in Jaskin. But yes, if Perron is exposed, he makes sense for the Golden Knights too. There's been a lot of talk about the Blues losing a forward in the draft, and I've been guilty of that too, but let's not forget about Hutton. I think Vegas could do a lot worse than a goalie tandem of Fleury and Hutton. So don't rule out the Blues losing their backup goalie. You never say never on Bortuzzo or Gunnarsson, but I would think they'd be less appealing. As I mentioned earlier, if the Blues lost Bortuzzo, I think they'd check into the free-agent market for a replacement.
Husso is on a good path, but I don't think he'd be ready to backup next season. I'm guessing they need to hit the free-agent market.
Who? The Blues had interest in Drouin, of course, but Tampa Bay wanted a defenseman and they got a good one from Montreal. If Shattenkirk agrees to go to Tampa, the Blues have Drouin. Now you're looking at Duchene, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Galchenyuk. You've got maybe one difference-maker in that mix, Duchene, but is he worth what you'd have to give up? The others could help, sure, but would they be enough to really give the Blues what they're looking for (a catalyst for Tarasenko)?
I don't think they'll pencil him in there, but he'll get some looks, whether it's because of injuries or he shows enough to deserve some time. I was really impressed with Barbashev when he stepped in for Stastny. Sure he tailed off, but he's a rookie who played some good minutes on the top line. Based on that, I don't think we can deem him to have a third-line ceiling. He's shown that he can handle it and he's only going to get more comfortable.
Because of his connection with Martin Brodeur. If and when Kovalchuk comes back and it's not New Jersey, he's going to want to go where there might be some sort of comfort level and Brodeur provides that in St. Louis.
I've mentioned this previously, so I'll keep it short, but he could give the Blues a guy with experience who's had some chemistry with Tarasenko.
There are a few but Minnesota comes to mind. Mike Russo had a good article in the Star-Tribune this week, in which Chuck Fletcher acknowledged that he doesn't have a deal in place with Vegas or anyone else at this point. The Wild could end up losing a defenseman like a Brodin or Dumba if they don't make a deal ahead of time. There is a trade moratorium that goes into effect tomorrow, so something will have to happen soon.