Jim Thomas should be with us shortly: Submit your Blues questions now!
Hello, again everybody. It was about a year ago today that I learned I would be covering the Blues after more than a quarter-century of covering the NFL, specifically, the Rams. It was a strange, new world. But when asked about the switch, my answer was always the same: I'm enjoying hockey more than I'm missing football. A hockey rookie no more, it's time to start chatting again. We will be chatting on Wednesday's every week, throughout the hockey season and on into the offseason. Usually the start time will be 1 p.m. But there will be changes in the start time occasionally (as is the case today due to some Blues-related work this afternoon). So we appreciate your patience on the start times as we go through the season. After a year on the Blues beat I have a good feel for the current squad, but won't pretend to know stuff I don't know. Of course, Jeff Gordon continues his Friday chats, so he remains an outlet for Blues questions as well. So let's get this thing started.
Very first question a line question. Oh, you hockey fans. Strictly a guess at this point. Maroon-O'Reilly-Tarasenko. Schwartz-Schenn-Perron, Fabbri-Bozak-Steen, Jaskin-Thomas-Barbashev.
Although it's a little odd, I don't think there's anything to worry about. Checked with a Blues official on this last week, and he didn't seem concerned. Last year you may recall, Petteri Lindbohm didn't sign his RFA contract until right before camp, either. So we'll see what happens.
In essence, you're going to get double the Blues chats. Jeff Gordon will still have a chat on Fridays, although he will now be free to answer non-Blues questions as well. I'll have a chat on Wednesdays. The usual start time for me actually will be 1 p.m. on most days. But sometimes the Blues' schedule may force a change in the start time _ like a game-day, for example, if the morning skate begins later than usual. Today for example, I'm heading to Enterprise Center this afternoon to get a tour of the renovations so we had to move up the start time. But my chat will always be on Wednesdays (Gordo on Fridays) and we'll always try to keep you updated on the start times, on stltoday.com and via my Twitter handled @jthom1.
Not sure about a platoon, but you'd think they'd monitor his minutes closely, and not give him more than he can handle at first.
Other than Maroon, who obviously is from St. Louis, I'm not sure if any of the other new guys have arrived in town (for the duration). I'm sure they have been in and out of town. Perron, I believe, told me he was coming to town the first weekend after he signed with the Blues. And obviously, he knows StL from his past time here. Captain Alex Pietrangelo reached out to each new member once they signed. And the alumni are pretty active. Bozak, at the very least, was in town for the PGA. So I'm sure they're getting some help.
No problem. And you got an answer anyway!
Undoubtedly. The Blues made the best of the situation, but it was far from ideal. Kostin spent a lot of his 2017-18 season in San Antonio playing on the second and third lines _ hardly ideal for a first-round draft pick. Binnington, as well as he played, was reduced to playing only about one-third of the games with Providence (Boston's farm team). Jake Walman ended up playing for Binghamton (New Jersey Devils) because he couldn't get time in Chicago with the Wolves. Not only that, but with the Blues controlling the coaching staff _ Drew Bannister was a good hire as head coach _ they will receive at least some indoctrination into the Blues' system and generally the way the organization likes to do things.
You make a good point. About the only downside _ if you want to call it that _ of adding all the veteran players via trade and free agency is that it means a smaller window for the youngsters to play. Of course, you've got to figure in that there will be injuries _ I'm sure the coaching staff hopes there are fewer than there were last offseason and preseason. (Berglund, Sanford, Fabbri, Steen, Bouwmeester).That being said, I don't see how Thomas is not on the opening-day roster. Remember, because of his age (19) it's either the big club or another year in juniors _ and what possibly would have have to gain from another year in juniors? So I think Thomas might begin camp on the fourth line. Kyrou, I think, will have a tougher path to making the opening-day roster although his speed is hard to ignore. As for players like Kostin and Foley, I think the Blues like the idea off giving them some seasoning in San Antonio.
Haven't heard anything yet. But I'll try to check on that in the coming days.
I have not seen them yet, but I plan to attend the Icebreaker event this Sunday. Do you have a problem with the red?
Have not. The last I checked with Doug Armstrong _ and it was a while ago _ it was full steam ahead for Fabbri in terms of being ready for camp.
No doubt. As things stand now, you have Jaskin, Thorburn, Soshnikov, Barbashev, Sundqvist and Jordan Nolan all competing for 3 spots on the fourth line. And that's not even factoring in if Thomas and/or Kyrou make the opening-day roster. Assuming a 14-forward roster _ and no injuries _ that means at least one of the first six names I mentioned can't make the opening-day roster. And if Thomas makes it, another one of those veterans must go. I would say Sundqvist, Thorburn and Nolan are the players most in jeopardy of not making the roster entering camp. Nolan, by the way, was signed to a two-way contract but I think it's a two-way contract where he would still have to clear waivers.
Not to be Jimmy Downer, but my experience in football was that the team that won the Offseason Lombardi Trophy almost invariably didn't perform well once the season started. Egos, and chemistry issues often got in the way. Don't know if that will be the case in hockey. It will be interesting to see how the chemistry develops with all the new Blues, although David Perron knows many of the Blues obviously from his prior tenure. And Maroon has skated (in the offseason) and played golf with several of the Blues while spending his summers in St. Louis. And in bringing up the goaltending, I think you've hit on the biggest question mark of the season. Can Jake Allen avoid a midseason slump? And what kind of help will newly-acquired Chad Johnson provide? I'll say this about Johnson, and I mentioned it in a story after he signed with the Blues: his career numbers were better than Carter Hutton and not that far off from Allen entering last season. So he might surprise.
I'm sure if Maroon give the Blues what they want _ namely, a net-front presence and some physical play _ they'll try to re-sign him. If not, they'll move on from him. Both Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson have contracts that expire at the end of this season, so the Blues should have some cap money available.
Thx. I hit 22 of the other 30 rinks last season, missing both Florida teams (Panthers, Lightning), both New York stops (Islanders, Rangers), Montreal, and California (Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim). I loved the western Canada stops _ the over-hanging press box in Calgary was something. Loved the energy of the crowd in Winnipeg, in what's a smaller stadium by NHL standards. In the U.S., enjoyed the tradition of Chicago. Las Vegas and Nashville were great atmospheres in terms of the crowd. I think the Blues do a pretty good job with game-day presentation, but you're right, Vegas takes it to another level. I have not heard of any changes in game-day presentation with the Blues. But will try to check on it.
Geez, my bad. I'm glad you brought him up. I forgot to mention his name in my previous answers on roster machinations. I don't think the Blues have forgotten his name. From what I could gather, the Blues felt he had a decent-to-good chance of making the roster last year , but then as you recall, he blows out his shoulder 15 minutes into the first practice of camp.on a hit from Jaskin. He's obviously lost some ground in the pecking order because of that injury and because of all the offseason additions, but he's a name to keep in mind for that fourth line I would think.
Camp will be at the Mills. (The new practice facility is scheduled to open in September of 2019). I think the first day on the ice is Friday, Sept. 14. And by the way, the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich., is Sept. 7-11.
Thanks. Talked to Gordo about this a week ago, and looks like early September, probably the week before camp starts, will be our opener for 2018-19.
Very nice. Did you hear about the setback for Kroenke and the Rams in the Missouri court of appeals yesterday? The lawsuit continues.