Once you add up all the forwards who are pretty much assured of a spot -- Schenn, Schwartz, Thomas, Steen, Bozak, Barbashev, Perron, Sundqvist, O'Reilly, Tarasenko -- that's 10 guys. Then you've got everyone else going for 4 spots: Blais, Sanford, Fabbri, Kyrou, MacEachern. They'll carry 14 forwards, so unless someone gets hurt, or someone else has the world's worst camp -- at least one of them isn't making it. MacEachern is a replacement option and the team certainly used him a lot when they had injuries late in the season. He's a physical guy, not a finesse guy, but he'll have a battle to make the team, just like those others will too. Among those five, Kyrou may be the only one that the team would want to keep playing rather than sit around as a healthy scratch, so that may work in MacEachern's favor for making the team, though not necessarily for playing.
Much of that will depend on how Binnington and Husso play. If Binnington plays great to start the season and shows he wasn't a one-hit wonder, then that may be an option, but only if Husso shows he can be a dependable backup. He didn't show that last season, and he wasn't healthy much. If either one of those variables isn't satisfied, then the Blues need Allen around. And Allen isn't going to take last season lying down. He's going to come in fighting for his job back. Also, I think the Blues kept playing Binnington down the stretch last season because they wanted to keep him on top of his game. Next season you'll see a more orderly usage in goal, which will mean more time for Allen.
I'm sure zone time is tracked but I haven't seen the numbers on that. Corsi and Fenwick both measure possession, so they would be options to see that.
The Blues were already a team spending to the salary cap, so the success makes it easier to do that, but they obviously can't spend any more. I jokingly asked Stillman as we walked to the stage at the victory celebration how season-ticket renewals were going and he said they were going well. I would imagine season-ticket sales likely went up, and sales for early season games probably went up too. The success likely also made it easier for them to buy back the last piece of the team that was not in local ownership. The Blues have seldom made money in their existence so this season's success should provide a buffer for any upcoming lean years, though the team no doubt hopes the next few years will also be successful and add to their coffers.
There were many final estimates, and my experience says they're usually high. My oldest brother, Jim, used to be the city editor of the Pasadena Star-News in Southern California and he came up with a formula for estimating crowds at the Rose Parade, and his estimates were a lot lower than what had been tossed around for years. Channel 5 talked to someone who said 390,000 total. That seems do-able.
He could be a second-line center, but if he's on the wing, he's probably third line. You could play him higher from time to time if needed. But he's played his way off the fourth line. Much of it will depend on who else the Blues have. Right now, if everyone's healthy, it will be hard for him to break into the top two lines. But he has surprised us before.
Teams do signing bonuses to sweeten deals, to give more money upfront or assure a player he won't be bought out or will get paid in the event of a lockout. Most teams, I would think, would want to avoid them if they could since most of the benefit goes to the player. (It can be easier to trade a player like that in the final years of his contract.) So whether or not the Blues have an organizational preference for that, Armstrong has been successful in avoiding them.
Seems like this is the preference among people I hear from, that Gloria is part of the 2018-19 Blues and holds a special place in the team's history. I'm not sure ultimately on whose call it is. (It's clearly not mine.) If it makes the team happy, why should they stop? Things like this are hard to come by and any other song they start playing will smack of being a pretender to the throne.
Teams can go over the cap in the offseason (I think by 10 percent) but have to be compliant by the start of the season. In the case of Pietrangelo and Schenn, the first years of their contracts would be the following season, when the Blues have only $57 million or so committed. So they could extend them for the 2020-21 season -- there's a different kind of cap for seasons yet to be played, which I think they would be well under -- but it would have an impact on all the other contracts they had to sign for that season.
I talked to him at Busch Stadium when they brought the Cup there and he said the severity of the rib injury was exaggerated, that it only affected him for a few games. But certainly if you look at how he did on faceoffs in the Dallas series, it would seem something was wrong. When I spoke to him the night they won the Western Conference final, it was clear he had padding on on the right side of his rib cage. Among the things you can count on hockey players for is acknowledging an injury and then minimizing the severity of it. There were still two tendons holding it in place! Of course I could play!
That's certainly the case for all of them: it was a massively long season, why rush them back if they're hurt? Which is very true. The only reason not to sit them for longer than needed is that the Central will be really tight and you'd hate for two points lost in October because you were sitting a bunch of regulars were the points that kept you out of the playoffs.
That's certainly an argument that can be made. I think the benefit in overpaying Schenn is that you know what you've got with him, and finding someone to do what he does at a lower price isn't easy. I think Schenn should be better next season, and he shouldn't be on the downside of his career just yet. Now, could he ask for an awful lot of money or want to go on the open market as a UFA and see what he can get? Yes, and that could mess things up for the Blues. Or make their decision a lot simpler. I think the Blues would do more to keep Pietrangelo than they would to keep Schenn, because Pietrangelo is a harder player to replace.
Thomas had 33 points in 70 games and got off to a slow start as he learned the league. I think he could get toward 60 points if he's on the top two lines and stays healthy. A lot will depend on whether or not he's getting power play time, and if the power play is better.
Jordan Nolan has the Cup today, by the way, and I think Steve Ott has it shortly after that as it returns to Canada and starts making its way east again. Armstrong and O'Reilly have it this seek, and then it hits Quebec, then Allen in New Brunswick, before making its way down the East Coast, to Sanford and Van Ryn, before ending up in Newark, from where it heads to Europe, first for three stops in Sweden, then to Finland for Husso and then to Russia to Barbashev and Tarasenko before coming back.
Anything else before I move on?
I think it's in early September where the Cup has a few days back in Toronto to get the names engraved on it.
OK, I've got an interview to do and a story to write, so thanks for stopping by. We'll do this again soon.