Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Blues chat with Tom Timmermann

Bring your questions and comments about the Blues, their Stanley Cup championship and their offseason, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Tom Timmermann in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.




    Greetings and welcome to the chat, which, barring a sudden outpouring of news, will probably be the last one until we get close to training camp. Or camp starts. Blues free agency hasn't exactly raised many questions. But here we are.
     
    People have asked, jokingly I suspect, if we writers get a day with the Cup. Here's a photo, which I posted earlier today on Twitter, of my day with the Cup: 
     
    Image
    So let's move on to questions.
    Do the Blues have any interest in Ferland or Dzingel in the event things don't work out with Maroon? The market seems to be slow on all 3.
    At this point, I'd say no. The Blues have so many forwards that they have to find places for, that I can't see them bringing anyone new into the fold, unless it's to fill space in San Antonio. Why pay someone who's going to block Jordan Kyrou's path? Keeping Maroon has the benefit of, as we've been saying, keeping the band together. But the Blues need to open spots for their young forwards, so giving anyone multiple millions or multiple years just gets in the way.
    Happy Hump Day T Squared and Blues Fans everywhere!

    The Stars are loading up, I feel sorry for their fan base when Binner stones them again in the playoffs! Granted, Binner was lucky on some of the saves he made in the playoffs, but if he plays next season like he has the Blues will be tough to beat.
    Never underestimate the value of a goalie in the playoffs, and as long as Dallas has Bishop, they'll be a factor and next season they might not be a wild card. The Stars are building to win now. They are not taking a long-term approach.
    Have you ever gotten the impression from Butler that he'd be interested in coaching or doing some behind the mic work after retirement? I always thought he was one of the most well spoken and thoughtful interviews during his time here, especially when things were going so poorly earlier this past season.
    I asked Butler about doing broadcasting -- or maybe I was standing next to someone who asked him; I forget -- and he laughed and said No, and it was a pretty definitive no, like, I would sooner have bamboo stalks shoved up my fingernails. Now, in a year, could that change? Yes. However, he's living in Minnesota now, not St. Louis, and I think he's looking to settle down and be consistently with his family. They've had plenty of time apart in the past few years. So that would preclude him doing any broadcast work that involved traveling. Could he work with a youth team? That seems more likely.
  • Who would be our enforcer if Maroon signs elsewhere? We need that physical presence as a team that plays heavy! Nolan is a worthy candidate!
  • Bortuzzo always stands at the ready if someone needs to be hit. Edmundson had two fights last year and isn't afraid to dig in. Nolan could be someone to do it, but it's going to be tough for him a) to make the 23-man roster and b) be suiting up on a regular basis. If he were to play well enough to earn a spot on the team, he'd be the guy, but I don't see them giving him a spot just so they have an enforcer.
    Any news on the contract front for the Big Rig? Whether it be here or elsewhere.
     
    The free agent market has come to a screeching halt, so at this point, there's probably no rush, or less rush than there may have been before. It's going to come down to whether he wants to take less to stay in St. Louis or take the best offer he can get, which will come from somewhere else. The Blues are likely offering a year at about the same or a little more than last season. Other teams are probably offering more money and two years. (If they weren't, he'd have taken the Blues offer.) 
    In order, how do you rank the biggest threats to the Blues in the division after the first few days of free agency signings? To me it looks like this:

    Dallas
    Colorado
    Nashville
    Winnipeg
    Chicago
    Minnesota
    That sounds reasonable, but there's not much separating those teams at this time, and I might put Chicago over Winnipeg now that they have a goalie in Lehner. If Colorado has a second line and Nashville has a power play, both of those teams become much bigger factors. The top five teams in the Central were separated by 10 points last season, and even Chicago briefly became relevant at the end of the season. The team that wins the Central will likely be the team that avoids a protracted slump.
    When does the FO/coaches take vacation?
    The coaching staff is taking it now. Front office vacations, at least for people connected to contracts, will depend on how soon the RFAs get wrapped up, and what the arbitration schedule is. Players have until Friday to submit arbitration requests, then the schedule for hearings is set. 
     
    Now that prospects camps and things like that are done, there isn't a whole lot for most of them to do.
     
    Sportswriters get their vacations somewhere in there too. 
    First chance I've had to be here since we won the Cup! This is probably old news to people living in St. Louis (which I do not anymore), but Chris Kerber absolutely nailed calling those final few seconds of Game 7. I just had the chance to hear it a few days ago. Wow - and that's coming from someone who grew up listening to Dan Kelly. Secondly, Jim Thomas was asked many times what he thought would happen in St Louis if the Blues ever won the Cup. His answer was "I think the city would become unhinged.". In your opinion, did St Louis live up to being "unhinged"? (Note: Brett Hull only counts as one person...). What a great thing for us having waited 52 years!!
  • I guess it depends on how you define unhinged. They didn't become unhinged in the sense of turning cars over and setting them on fire, but that parade down Market was something else and unhinged would be a reasonable description. That was a party where everyone cut loose, but in a good way. I don't know that St. Louis has had a party like that, and I don't think they'll have one ever again. That was a special, first-time Stanley Cup winner party. 
     
    By the way, as I typed "parade down Market," I'm reminded of the uproar during the Final of the Blues "announcing the parade route." 1. That was our screwup, not the team's. And 2., saying the parade would be on Market was not exactly a state secret. It wasn't like it was going to be on Grand or Chestnut or Tucker. Every time someone said "announced the parade route" I wanted to haul off and politely tell them about their error. 
    By the way, I asked a question in our Road Crew chat today, which immediately precedes this one, and it wasn't answered.
    Tom,
    If the Blues are unable to resign Maroon do you think they take that money and sign another free agent forward? There are still some good forwards available. Thanks!
    Again, if the Blues dip their toes into the free agent market, it won't be for anyone making more than $2 million or wanting more than 1 year. The Blues have so many forwards backed up that bringing in someone new would just get in the way, unless it was a very special case. (Or unless they had made long-term decisions that we aren't aware of.) If they don't sign Maroon, I think their best use of that money is to hold on to it. They already have 13 forwards on one-way contracts (or who will be after their RFA deals are done), plus Robert Thomas, who doesn't figure to be going down. There are some good forwards out there, but at what the Blues are looking to spend, they're not quite as good.
    As much as I'd love to keep him, I think Schenn may become a casualty to the numbers game ($$$ and roster spot). Looking at contracts being handed out, got to imagine he will be looking for $6M+ with some term. With some promising prospects in the pipeline it may be hard for Army to offer that.
    Schenn has become a valuable member of the team. Can he be replaced? Yes, but right now, the team has a lot of players who fit in well together, and that's something that it's worth investing in. It took the team a while to find that chemistry last year, and once they did, it paid off. So that's a reason where slightly overpaying him, or not lowballing him, would be in their better interests. I don't know that any of the prospects in the pipeline are guys who will be stepping into a Schenn role in the near future: a forward who can play center or the wing and either score goals or make plays. He's shown he's a top six forward. And he's 27. He's got some years ahead of him.
    I was somewhat surprised they resigned Gunnarsson and they added some free agent defensemen that were interesting. Do you think the Blues are thinking about moving Edmundson? Thanks!
    Joel Edmundson is 26 years old and has played four seasons in the league. Jay Bouwmeester likely has one season left. Carl Gunnarsson is not a long-term answer on defense. Edmundson has many productive years ahead of him. Trading him would be very shortsighted on the Blues part, especially since his price probably came down a bit after an inconsistent season. When Jerry Buss owned the Lakers, he used to give the example of players and poker chips. Imagine a player as a stack of poker chips, and each year he plays, you take one away. The stacks are very small on Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson. Edmundson still has a big stack. You only move him for someone who gives you a lot of value in return. This is a Blues team built to win now, but Edmundson also can be a bridge to the next window after this one closes.
    Mr. Timmermann,
    I think the signing of Derrick Pouliot has the potential to be a nice under the radar type move. I know he hasn't exactly lived up to his #8 overall pick from his class, but he is 25, has a few years experience, and signed cheap. How much of an impact do you think he can realistically have this year?
  • With the defensemen the Blues currently have, it will be tough for anyone outside the current top seven to have much of an impact, unless players start getting hurt. That said, this is hockey, and players get hurt. Reinke and Mikkola had seasons in San Antonio that will warrant a look next season and figure to be next in line, though Pouliot does bring experience, and he is from Saskatchewan. If he gets called up, it's in a Chris Butler type situation, where they won't be afraid to play him if needed and won't be afraid to scratch him. (If Reinke or Mikkola get called up, they'll be playing.) After that, it's up to him to show what he can do. But with the seven guys they've got, it will be tough to find an opening.
    Tom, What's the latest on the Binnington contract? Do you have a guess on years, dollars or when it will get done?
    As Doug Armstrong said, the negotiation on Binnington won't be easy because there isn't much of a resume to go on. Much may come down to how much Binnington is willing to bet on himself. He can take a short-term deal, knowing that if he does well, when he gets to free agency, big bucks will be waiting. Or he can take a longer term deal and not have to worry about that. I have no idea what either of those deals will look like. I think with some uncertainty still about Binnington's play, the shorter-term, maybe two years, may be the way to go for both sides. If he has two great years, the Blues will gladly pay him.
    Mr. Timmermann,

    Did Gunnar and J-Bow take less to stay? What do you think either could have received on the open market? With raises due to others in mind, does Edmundson get less than he is hoping for?
    I remember asking Bouwmeester about choosing to re-sign early and not go on the market and he pretty much laughed at me and said, What kind of a market would there be for me? Possibly more than he gave himself credit for, but still, he's got a point. It is a young man's game. He was going to take a pay cut anyway -- there was no way he was going to get $5.4 million -- and the $3.25 million he's getting is pretty good pay for a defenseman his age. As for Gunnarsson, he probably could have gotten more on the open market, but again, his value was going to be iffy since he was coming off an injury-plagued season and is 32. So you never know. Maybe teams would love him. It only takes one. But at the same time, if he was asking for any more than the $1.75 million he's getting, the Blues would have looked elsewhere. Again, he brings good chemistry and is well liked.
    Mr. Timmermann,
    There was a lot of talk about the Blues buying out Steen. I think keeping him was the right choice. He can't produce enough point wise to justify his salary, but he seemed to really buy in last year, accept his new role with fewer minutes, and really elevated the play of his line. However, that sort of contract will hopefully serve as an example for the Blues and make them wary of going overboard with "loyalty contracts." Chicago and L.A. are prime examples of where that leads.
    I never thought they would buy out Steen because, 1) Armstrong doesn't buy players out and 2) the team values what Steen does in ways not reflected in numbers. He's paid a lot based on the numbers he puts up, but I think the team looks beyond that. It will be interesting to see how next season plays out for him. Steen, as we've now seen, is at a point where the less he plays the better he is. But he's still a guy the team is comfortable with moving up in the order if needed. Steen is a player whose game is really well suited to the playoffs. More time off in the regular season wouldn't hurt him to keep him fresh for the postseason.
    Tom – thanks for the chat! Do you see Stillman as a long-term owner? Meaning, has he expressed his desire to remain in the ownership role indefinitely? I know he’s a businessman, so just curious if you see him continuing to build this up and selling near term. Thanks!
    One of the main reasons Stillman could be around for a while as an owner is that selling the team isn't easy. It was tough sledding when he bought it, and I don't think there's a line of people waiting to buy it. Consider that the local owners bought the part of the team that was just up for sale. One could assume from that there wasn't someone who isn't already part of the ownership group waiting to pay more than they did to buy in. The Cup win obviously has energized everyone around the franchise, and the team no doubt made a lot of money thanks to the playoff run. So the team is probably in the best financial shape it's ever been in. I think Stillman and Co. will ride this for a while now.
    With the recent success of the Blues(Stanley Cup, Winter Classic, and next years NHL All Star Game) do you see the city of St. Louis maybe getting another Winter Classic anytime soon? The city showed up for both the alumni game and the actual game last time despite freezing temperatures and rain. Does winning the cup plus the nation seeing our fandom give the NHL a reason to bring the Classic back to St. Louis again?
    I could see them getting a Stadium Series game. The league hasn't gone back to a Winter Classic site yet, and if they do, I'd bet it would be some place that seats much more than Busch does. But a Stadium Series game would be do-able.
    Hey Tom: It's obviously an incredible situation to be in when a team wins a Cup and has it's entire core returning, but is it a good thing to have, essentially, the entire roster returning? Seems like a little turnover is necessarily to keep things fresh and to bring in hungry players from outside the organization. I don't see an avenue for that to happen given the organizational depth, but it makes me nervous to bring basically everybody back. Or am I just being a paranoid Blues fan?
    Yeah, it does seem like asking a lot for the exact same group to do it twice in a row. But there is some competition, such as Kyrou fighting for a spot, and Blais and MacEachern and Sanford and Fabbri looking for places -- would there be anyone hungrier than Robby Fabbri? -- and the inherent competition among the seven defensemen for six spots, plus the young guys in San Antonio, and Allen fighting for a spot against Binnington. So there is some inherent competition within the organization. But how do you make change just for change? You're almost left at picking someone at random and cutting them loose to bring in someone else. That doesn't seem like an improvement. I've said a few times that one of the toughest times to be a GM has to be the year after winning a championship. How do you shake things up?
    Whats the best way Chief can have these guys back and going for the start of the upcoming season? Everybody knows there can be a little bit of a Stanley Cup hangover for teams coming off a Stanley Cup win.
    He said that one of the first things he'll do is tell them that last year doesn't matter any more. It may take a while for that message to sink in, but the Blues did very well this season looking forward and not looking backward. The key of course, is not looking too far forward. They have to focus on what's right in front of them. They did not do that at the start of the season, which is something to keep in mind. Which is another issue: If the team gets off to a bad start, do players think, no big deal, we can turn it around and we'll be fine by the time the playoffs come around? Because that can be a dangerous way to think too.
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