I don't know any specifics on the Blues-Binnington talks, but it's going to be a tricky negotiation because each side has to figure out what it wants and what the other side wants. Does Binnington want a two-year deal or a four-year deal? The numbers end up being very different. For the Blues, a long-term deal is risky because what if he doesn't pan out? But a short-term deal can be risky because what if he's great and you've got to re-sign him in two years when he can be a UFA and demand top dollar? The same goes for Binnington. Longer term for financial security, or shorter term hoping a huge payday awaits. Once they find some common ground on that, it should come together.
And actually, it has to come together. The arbitration hearing isn't that far away.
Every contract signed by a defenseman adds to the list of comparables, and dollars are only going to go up. As I said earlier, I think the Blues will have more confidence in Year 6 of a Pietrangelo contract than they did in Year 5 of the Backes contract. Pietrangelo has an AAV of $6.5 million right now. I don't know that $11 million is something the Blues could afford, but it will likely end up being a lot closer to $10 million than I would have thought six months ago. I would expect Armstrong to try to extend Pietrangelo before he goes on the open market.
Many of the Blues are not fast, but, as I know we talked about often on the podcast, you can look a whole lot faster when you move the puck well, which is what the Blues did in the second half of the season. Finding a spot for Kyrou is one of the reasons not to re-sign Maroon. With every other forward back, the only way to get him is to create an opening. It's not necessarily a Kyrou spot. It could be a Fabbri spot. Having a few players who can skate fast is a good thing because there are times when you need that speed.
I think it's coming out at the end of the month. I believe that will be the one. The NHL sells exclusivity on this type of thing, and there are copyrights to think of. I haven't seen it yet.
I do not think Backes is returning.
I could see Pietrangelo taking $10.5 instead of $11.5. I wouldn't label Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson as hometown discounts as much as two veterans taking the sure thing rather than rolling the dice on free agency. It was as much a favor to themselves and their families as it was to the Blues. It's going to be less of a gamble for Pietrangelo and Schenn. Someone is going to pay them. Armstrong is going to have to look at the whole picture, including what the cap is going to do down the road. And if Pietrangelo or Schenn want to get paid more somewhere else, they've earned that privilege.
The Blues didn't play Binnington last season until they had to. They started Allen in 14 straight games and Binnington finally got in because the Blues had back to backs. So there's a history for paying guys only when you have to, but when you do, you've got a chance to show what you can do. Binnington did that and ran with it. The others haven't, though Sanford did well in some stretches. Kyrou never had a game when he was up where you said, he sure earned more playing time! Alas, it's the nature of the NHL and contracts that sometimes you have to ride guys out because you can't just say, well, Sanford has had a bad two weeks, off to the minors he goes, because you end up losing a lot of players to waivers that way. As it stands now, Kyrou is the only one of the bunch who is waiver exempt, so he's the one bound to bounce up and down.
Well, Parayko is signed through 2022, so he's not an issue right now. If Binnington pans out, then Allen becomes tradeable, and, if things develop, Husso could be a low-cost backup, which would save you $3 million. The Blues like Steen a lot, so I wouldn't go expecting him to be bought out. But there are certainly ways to provide for raises for Pietrangelo and Schenn.
That's what I thought it was, but I wasn't positive. I think one of the exceptions is if one side chose the year before, the other side gets to choose the next time. This would be Husso's first arbitration.
Maybe, though I don't think the ultimate dollars will be that much different. The Blues need to open up a spot for some young forwards and Maroon gets in the way of that. That's the big issue. They don't want to hold some of these guys back any more and Maroon happens to be the guy whose contract is up and who is at an age where the demand for his services starts to drop off.
If you've got a question, now would be a good time to ask.
What they needed was more results offensively and a greatly improved power play. I think you'll see an improved Schwartz from start to finish next season, which will help a lot, and putting Kyrou in for Maroon should, potentially, be a skill upgrade while a power downgrade. As for the power play, Armstrong said the Blues could still add another assistant coach. Someone to make their power play better would be a start.
The Stars have gone all in. Either they'll be better or they won't. The Avs should be better. Chicago looks to be greatly improved in goal, and we've all seen what having a goalie having a great season can do. I think you have to look at all of them as potential competitors. And don't look down on Nashville too much.
Going to be tough to have a pleasant surprise since there don't figure to be many new faces. If Mikkola gets a chance, he could really shine. I obviously haven't seen him play much, but all the evidence points to him being close to taking the step. He just might not get that chance next season. And it's hard on the disappointing side too because who foresaw Schwartz having the troubles he did last season? Sundqvist was the one guy who played way over expectations this season, but he also made a strong case for this being who he's going to be going forward. Kyrou may have the best chance of being "disappointing" just because so much is being expected of him and he's still young, just like some people have been disappointed that Kostin isn't already tearing up the league.
I think Maroon's career has show that when he gets placed with good linemates, he can provide. I also think your expected goals percentage goes up when you take a lot of your shots from right around the goal. And that's where the Blues will need to replace Maroon, in a 10-foot radius around the goal. If Sanford or someone else can step in there and tip in shots, then that will solve that. If I were Zach Sanford, I'd be working on my hand-eye coordination for tipping shots.
The Blues were on the hook for that, though I can't say that some services were provided at a reduced cost. I know there was a lot of overtime for the St. Louis Police. That did make an impact on their bottom line, but there is somethings you just have to pay for and can't cheap out on. The Blues have never been a cash machine and have likely had very few seasons where they turned a significant profit, but this season had to be their most financially successful ever.
OK folks, thanks for stopping by today. A very good chat. High quality questions. We'll be back next week. Who knows? Maybe something will have happened by then. Thanks for your time.