Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Bring your questions about the Blues and the NHL, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Tom a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    I'm at the keyboard, I've got a bottle of whiskey at the ready, Jim Thomas is somewhere on I-55 on his way back from Traverse City, so it looks like it's time to chat. I've just come back from the Enterprise Center, checking out the new and improved building (it's improved), camp starts Friday and Jordan Schmaltz has signed a two-year contract. That said, here we go.
    I've asked Gordo and JT, so what's your take on this: Is Mike Yeo on a hot seat this season, or are the Blues committed to him for the long-term?
    Can it be both? If you went to the Icebreaker event at Ballpark Village, it's clear that expectations are high. Real high. Massively high. Above average. Should this team stumble out of the gate, that will not be a good position to be in. Fingers will be pointed. I don't think there will be any rash decisions, but if the team doesn't make the playoffs, very very few people will be happy.
    Have we seen the upper limit of productivity from No. 91? Any chance he could ever score 45-50 goals? What's your opinion of Vladdy overall?
    He's 26, so you'd like to think there's room for growth. Give him a top-class center or two, and see what happens. It's not like a lot of guys are scoring 50 goals a season right now, so that would be a stretch. Heck, there were only eight guys last season who scored 40. He's a good place to start your offense and he's a guy who can make goals out of nothing.
    Hi Tom! Could you see a top 6 D next season of
    Dunn - Petro
    Edmundson - Parayko
    Walman - Schmaltz?

    Seems l like that would be a young, cost-effective, fast puck moving D core that teams crave these days. Or do you think they will want more experience there?
    By next year, Petro, Edmundson and Parayko will all be pretty experienced. Dunn will have finished his second season and we'll have to see how he develops this season. Walman and Schmaltz both still have things to prove, but Schmaltz's just-signed contract says both sides are looking for things to happen next season. And there will be money to spend with Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson coming off the books.
    Do you know what the Seattle team will be called? Do you know what season they will start up?
  • I don't  know what the Seattle team will be called or when they will start up. When they do, it will be interesting to see what the expansion parameters will be. They'll want the same deal Vegas got on players they can get, while the rest of the league will not want to give them the same deal. (The whopping expansion fee they'll pay will ultimately win out and the team will get what it wants, most likely.) And then there will also have to be some division juggling to even things out.
    Pacioretty was available. Where were the Blues?
    Content with the forward corps they have and not wanting to pay another guy $7 million.
    Capfriendly is showing the roster at 25/23. Barring any preseason injuries, who do you see as the odd men out?
  • Well, if you're looking at the 25 players capfriendly lists, Schmaltz and Jordan Nolan are the odd men out. But that list doesn't include Thomas and Kyrou, who both have decent chances of making the team. If they make it, then you're looking at people like Sundqvist, Barbashev and Thorburn being in doubt. Thorburn is an easy guy to make a healthy scratch every night. Barbashev is probably a guy you want to keep playing, so the Blues are going to have to hope they can slip these guys through waivers.
    The blues have a top 6 that is pretty looked up with Vlad, Schenn, Schwartz, O'Reily, Steen, Perron, plus Fabbri, thomas, kyrou waiting in the wings. That still leaves guys like Blais, Sanford, Kostin, Bokk and others who are pretty well regarded to don't have much of a view into the top 6 and may have their skill sets under utilized in bottom 6 roles going forward. Do you think the Blues would consider offloading some of that forward depth for a good young (hopefully leftie) Dman that could play a top role in the future, or even go after a high end goalie with those guys in Jake struggles again? Or do you think they see trying to fill their top 9 with all those young players?
    The Blues look like they have three good lines, certainly better than last season when they had three third-lines at times, and then a bunch of guys who look a lot alike competing for the last five spots. I don't know that those guys at the bottom have much in the way of trade value -- there's not going to be a line for Soshnikov -- and after getting this far, the Blues have to see what Kyrou and Thomas can do. Armstrong said at the end of last season that he didn't think more than two of the young guys would make the team this season, but I think the team feels good enough about its depth right now to keep what they've got. The fourth line will likely have a different feel to it this season, not the energy line of the Kyle Brodziak era but another line that can go do things on offense, but just get less minutes to do it in. And injuries will happen.
    Hey so this is a Blues team with endless potential, but lets talk about if things start to go south for whatever reason. The blues definitely were buyers in the offseason, but donthey become sellers at the deadline? If so, what are the movable pieces?
  • Anybody who's contract is about to run out, for starters is a movable piece. A lot would depend on why the season went south. Was it injuries? Then you keep what you've got and hope for better luck. Was it the goaltending? Then you look for a replacement there, though that's easier to do in the offseason. And if someone turns into Jori Lehtera, Patrik Berglund or Vladimir Sobotka, they would be an option. I think the core would stay intact.
    I understand that Kyrou is a long shot to break camp with the Blues. However, if he were to make the team, do you see Yeo playing him up from the 4th line and who would you see getting bumped?
    I don't know that he's a longshot. A lot of people think he'll make it. The fourth line isn't going to be a grinder group like we've seen in the past, in part because there aren't those kind of players on the team. Kyrou could play there to get his feet wet, but so much will depend on his training camp. If he shows well, he'll get the chance. If he doesn't, he'll learn the best Tex-Mex restaurants in San Antonio. A few years back, we all thought Petteri Lindbohm was going to make the team out of camp. Then Parayko and Edmundson came along and bumped him out of the way. Kyrou won't be given anything, but if he makes the team -- and this goes for Thomas too -- he will play. They won't scratch him.
    Kyrou obviously had a good prospect tournament with five goals. Did he improve his chances of making the team on the opening night roster?
  • Only to the extent that he'll be feeling better going into camp. How he does against the big boys will determine where he is on opening night.
    Why does Army always spend to the cap? It takes away any significant in season move because we have no space for salary. You know someone will get injured and it could be a top player no one makes it through the season unscathed. It's puzzling.
    Because he can. He's probably closer to the cap this year than he would like, but to bring in all the offensive pieces he wanted, that's what he had to do. You can get cap relief for a long-term injury. The Blues will skimp and save along the way -- they've gone with just one extra forward frequently over the past few seasons -- to open space for later. I think the feeling is, if that's what it costs to get the team you like, that's what it costs.
    I now you know the world knows Hutton was the better goalie last year. Allen never earned his restricting contract. Now we lost a savvy veteran goalie. It could get ugly if Jake has another confidence breakdown. Again we can't trade for a goalie no cap space! So it's Allen or Husso or bust? RISKY!!
  • Herein lies the key to this season: Jake Allen. You can talk about lines and power plays and defensive pairings, but the success or failure of this season will rest on Jake Allen (and Chad Johnson). If you look at the stat of goals above replacement, the Blues are actually down this season from last year. How can that be with all the forwards they added? Because they lost Carter Hutton, who had a whopping GAR. If Allen has his somewhat traditional January swoon, and Chad Johnson can't pick up the slack, there goes the season. The Blues were as close as they were last season because of Hutton. If he hadn't played as well as he did, the Blues aren't playing for a spot on the last day of the season. Allen can do it. We've seen him do it. He can be an exceptional goalie. He just needs to do it all -- or at least an awful lot -- of the season.
    I saw that Jake Allen needs 27 or 28 wins to catch Cujo on the Blues all-time list. Do you believe Jake passes him this season?
  • If he doesn't, people will not be happy.
    One other thing is that with an improved offense, that could take some of the burden off Allen. There were times last season that Allen knew that if he gave up a goal or two, the night was done. With more offense this season, there's more room for error.
    First chat I've seen of yours...impressive pace, keep it up! From a casual fan, what stories will you be following heading into camp? The play of Thomas/Kyrou? How does Jake Allen avoid the mid-season swoon again? Or is there another storyline that peaks your interest?
  • My philosophy has always been type first, think later.
    Some of the big questions can't be answered in camp. We won't know if Allen can avoid a swoon until he hasn't. Same with the power play. We'll be watching to see if there's a new system, or just new players. (New players will help a lot.) Do Thomas and Kyrou make the team, and if so, where do they fit in? Is Jay Bouwmeester now a third pairing defenseman? Does a Zach Sanford or Sammy Blair earn a fourth line spot. There are big question marks that camp won't answer, and the other questions are around the perimeter of the team. 
    Are the days of teams having "enforcers" going the way of the dodo bird? Thorburn's a nice enough guy but he's certainly not feared like Chase and Twister were. I was really hoping Ryan Reeves would come back but that's not happening anytime soon.
  • They'd have liked Reaves to come back  because just about everyone around the team loves him. Thorburn fills a role in that he can be ornery if you need him to be, and he won't complain if he's scratched every day or doesn't play in the third period of a game. If Thomas or Kyrou make the team, they have to play. You can't go scratching them. The Blues would like to see their younger guys playing and getting better. That's the tradeoff. 
    And yes, enforcers are on their way out. The game is changing. You can have tough guys, but they also need to be able to skate and contribute.
    I agree that if Thomas and Kyrou make the team, the fourth line looks much different from Reaves, Brodziaik, Upshall. So who goes out there for a defensive zone face off against Kane/Toews or Malkin/Crosby? Steen, O'Reilly, and Dmitri Jaskin?
    O'Reily will be a candidate in most cases, depending on what's at stake. Ten seconds left, up a goal, defensive zone start? O'Reilly's probably your guy. Sometimes it might depend on which side of the ice they're on, or if someone's having a strong game.
    Is there a games played limit for Thomas on going back to Juniors? Not from a contract year stand point, but if the club is willing to burn a year and then decides they can't carry him, can he be sent back to his junior team at any point?
  • The Blues will have to decide before he plays in his 10th NHL game. After that, they could send him back, but they'd have burned a year on his contract, so everyone makes the decision before that game. And it's not games played by the team, it's games played by the player. So if he was a scratch a time or two, that would extend the time he could stay around.
    First off, I really enjoy the Net Front podcast, and also find it funny how many times Gordo restates the title of the podcast through the 30+9 minutes.

    Given the we don’t know how Fabbri will play and Yeo like most coaches has the line blender always at the ready, I would love to see Tarasenko with Fabbri, presumably with ROR in the middle.

    Tarasenko is good at driving possession, which really means when he’s on the ice the blues shoot more and normally it’s because he will shoot from anywhere. With fabbri you get a speed dimension that could open up holes.

    Also it seems like Maroon could be a big help for a shooter like Scheen and all-around player like Schwartz.
  • Always appreciate the podcast praise. We got word just before recording the latest one to mention more information about where you can find the podcast earlier in the broadcast, so you'll likely hear it more and more.
    Seems like there's a bit of early sentiment for having Maroon with O'Reilly and Tarasenko, for him to plant himself in front of the goalie and make things happen there. But I think you'll see every combination. Fabbri might start on the third line just to ease back into action with fewer minutes after his lengthy knee issues.
    JT, pressure this year not only on the players and coach but you got to think also on Mr. Stillman. He has convinced ownership to spend, spend, spend....Do you think a playoff miss this year drives away the ownership group? Can you say Seattle???
    Sorry, JT is driving and can't come to the chat now.
    And I think you meant Armstrong instead of Stillman. 
    So easy to forget Sanford is even with the Blues. At the time fo the trade he was talked about as a 3C and maybe 2C, was that just hyping a trade or does he have that value? Did the blues upgrade so much that he is irrelevant, or is he a sleeper.
  • Zach Sanford is very much the forgotten man. It was easier to make last year's team than this year's team. This is a team that was using Kyle Brodziak as its second-line center at the end of last season. If Sanford had been healthy, there were opportunities. Now, the team is loaded up the middle. Last year was a lost season for him, first with the injury in camp, then he got hurt when started up again in the AHL. He'll likely get more a chance to show things in the A this season. There's a lot of people going for very few spots; it won't be easy for him to make it out of camp.
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