We'll be getting started momentarily.
Before we get underway, I want to say thanks to everyone for joining me each and every week. There's been a ton of interest in the chat all season and I don't take it for granted. I don't always have an answer for you, and sometimes my predictions are wrong, but I'm always as honest as possible. We'll keep the chats going throughout the summer, so don't go anywhere! That said, we've got lots to discuss a week after the Blues' elimination, so let's get chattin ...
Yakupov will be a restricted free agent, so if he and the Blues don't negotiate a contract, the team will have to decide on whether to make him a qualifying offer. The "QO" is based on last year's salary, and according to his salary, the collective-bargaining agreement stipulates it has to be 100 percent of that salary. I can't imagine the Blues would make that offer because Yakupov would accept it and based on his performance this year, that's a lot to be paying a player that may not be in your lineup every night. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Blues walk away from him.
I thought Edmundson was fantastic during the playoffs. I don't know if I'd call him untouchable, because you never know what deals are out there, but I think it would take something very, very special for the Blues to decide to part ways with him.
Well, your info is correct. He's over 26, so they'd owe him two-thirds of his remaining contract. He makes $4.7 million per game the next two years, so that's $9.4 million and two-thirds of that $6.3 million spread out over the next four years. That might not sound like much over that time-frame, but the Blues aren't in position like a lot of other teams to be paying players not to play here. I certainly wouldn't rule it out. But I think they'll first leave him unprotected in the expansion draft and see what happens there, and then if he's not picked up, keep him on the roster and hope for a bounce-back year. Speaking of that, I spoke with Lehtera on locker clean-out day, and he agreed that it was a horrible year for him. He's planning to go back to Finland briefly and then return in July and, in his words, get back to playing the way he did his "rookie" year with Tarasenko.
Being busy with the playoffs, I haven't heard many rumblings lately. But I have heard/read that there's a chance Vegas and another team (I would think Blues) could both use Chicago. I haven't bounced that off anybody with the Blues, but my guess is that the Blues will stay with the Wolves for at least one more season because there just aren't many options out there.
I don't know if they will. If they do, I don't think it would be based on his playoff. As I put together the list, I'm looking at it from the perspective of who do you leave out of the top 7 forwards. I think five are slam-dunks of course ... Tarasenko, Stastny, Schwartz, Steen and Sobotka. That leaves Berglund, Reaves, Perron for two spots. Say what you want about Berglund, but the Blues need help at center and he fixed at $3.7 million the next five years. Do you protect Reaves over Perron? I think you do. Hard to find guys like Reaves and I think Perron is replaceable. That's what it comes down to for me.
Upshall will be the Blues' lone unrestricted free agent this summer. If I had to guess, I wouldn't think he'll be re-signed. I think they've liked him and he's been a big part of the fourth-line's success. He gives them some speed, he's a good penalty killer and he gives them a veteran presence. I just think that with the transition they're going through, they're going to play younger guys like Barabashev and Sanford and with Sobotka here now, the spots are limited. You know what you're going to get in Upshall and he's fairly cheap, so I wouldn't rule out a return, but I wouldn't bet on it.
He'll be at training camp and we'll see from there. I know you guys hate this answer, but it's too early to tell. It's just so hard with young forwards still growing into their body. Look at guys like Barbashev and Sanford ... they can contribute on most nights, but they still have some growing to do. I haven't seen Thompson yet, so I'll hold off until we see what he's able to do in the offseason and what he looks like at camp.
They're going to have to put him on a good plan. I thought he was a little shaky early on, but but obviously he was making the adjustment to a new team. After a few games in, he really started to show some skill, especially on that goal in San Jose. But he got bumped off the puck a lot and lost some battles. He's got the frame, but he's going to build on that frame. Again, with young forwards, nothing we haven't heard before. But I think he's got a lot of upside and he's a guy that I'll be really be interested in seeing the progress he's made come September.
This question is going to get more and more interesting. Some fans might think there's not a chance the Blues re-sign Stastny, but we're talking about a team that needs help at center, they're not looking to lose any. I don't know that they'll come up with an extension this summer, unless Stastny just really wants to stay and the money makes too much sense for the Blues. So assuming we're deep into the season and nothing is done, it's going to depend on what the Blues' options are, and what some of their prospects are doing. The Blues don't have a ton of NHL-ready talent at the position, true, but with Barbashev, Sanford, Thompson, etc., they have players that could be ready for that spot soon, it's just a matter of how long. Ideally, Stastny would stay at less than $7 million and he would be your No. 2 center with a clear-cut No. 1 coming into the organization or growing into that role. Obviously signing or trading for a No. 1 would give you that guy faster than grooming him.
I didn't get it either. I've understood and agreed with and applauded that Yeo has done, but I didn't get that one. Has Brodziak been perfect? No. The Blues weren't winning and the PK was slumping, true, but scratching Brodziak wasn't going to fix that. Upshall was about as outspoken as he could be and still toe the company line by saying that it was "weird."
Barbashev's play tailed off a bit and some of those games in the Nashville series become special-teams battles and so Barbashev didn't get much ice time. It got to a point where having him in there didn't make much sense. As much as I like Barbashev, I understood it.
I thought the mood was as expected. Considering what the team went through this year with the coaching change, Shattenkirk trade, etc., the expectations weren't that high. Players were disappointed in the finish but pretty proud of what they accomplished based on the circumstances. The coaching change and finishing on a high note left them with a lot of optimism moving forward.
Even if both sides had interest, which I don't think they would, I don't think it'll be possible. Oshie is easily a $5 million player, and with the Blues needing to extend Parayko, they aren't going to be able to afford that. They could move some salary, of course, but I just don't see it.
I realize you're not directing this at me, but for the record, I've never said that I would have given Berglund five years. To me, it's too long. He's a 28-year-old with 20-goal potential, and he gives you some stability at a position where you need it. If he wants to come back for two years, three years ... fine ... but not five. I understand that Armstrong gets the AAV he wants ($3.7 million per year) by offering more term, but it's too long.
I thought he had good moments and bad moments. I thought he was better in the Minnesota series than the Nashville series. The penalty kill wasn't on top of its game, but I don't think Bouwmeester was the common denominator.
Army said himself that the Blues need more size up front. In his words, he said if it comes down to a 6-4, 220 forward with the same skill as the 5-10 or 6-0 guy, they want the bigger guy. I think they're still looking for skill and speed, but they learned this year that it's still a man's league.
You son of a gun, don't jinx me. I've got plans this summer and they're not chasing him down.
I mentioned the only UFA is Upshall. The RFAs are Parayko, Yakupov and Paajarvi. Basically everyone is eligible for the expansion draft except Fabbri and Parayko.
I asked Army and he said that he and Yeo hadn't discussed it yet. As you mentioned, there's going to be a new goalie coach. Brodeur is in charge of hiring the incoming coach. I'm not sure how the rest of the staff will shake out, but I'd find it hard to believe that Wilson, Thomas and Bennett are all back. One name to keep in mind is Bylsma. I'm not sure how Army feels about Bylsma, but Yeo coached with him in Pittsburgh and knows him well. He's available after getting fired in Buffalo.