As far as I know, there was no litigation that came out of last week's chat, and Jim Thomas insisted on going to Des Moines, so the powers that be have decided to send me out for another chat. So here goes.
It would have to be a really ugly slow start for that to happen, with some awfully dumb decisions being made, which I don't see happening. There's the potential for the team not to win every game it's going to play at the start as they find their chemistry. But expectations are high. So the pressure will be there. But I don't see any quick decisions being made. Last year's team started great, then tailed off. Seasons have fluctuations. It happens.
That's what training camp is for, to settle those issues. Yeo spoke highly of Sanford's head for the game the other day. He'll be one of those guys that will probably play in five of the seven preseason games as they scrutinize his play. After missing almost all of last season, he's a guy they may not want to have sitting around as a scratch at the start of the year, but, and this goes for just about everyone involved, they'll have to weigh the risk of putting him through waivers to send him down. With the number of forwards they have, statistically the smart call on anyone is to say no, they won't make it. But we'll see.
Well, eventually, they're bound to win one, aren't they? As I once wrote, every team should win once in 30 years, but if your year comes around and Roman Turek is in goal, you may have to wait for another lap. Right now, winning out of the Central Division is going to be tough. Getting through two rounds of the playoffs there will not be easy, and if you get through, you may have nothing left.
I think Jaskin will make the team. He's a low-salaried veteran who is good defensively (though maybe not that good last night). I think they'll value his experience. After that, it's all up in the air, and Yeo said yesterday that what the fourth line looks like will depend on whose playing best. Barbashev is someone they could trade if he's not going to make the team rather than risk losing him for nothing on waivers, especially since they have plenty of centers now and he's not as essential there. On the other hand, lots of players move through waivers at the end of camp, so the chances are good of slipping someone through. Last year they kept Sundqvist around because they feared losing him if they tried to send him down. .I don't think that will be a concern this season and Sunny could be AHL bound if he doesn't have a strong camp.
Lots of factors come into play here. Chad Johnson looked good last night, and if he's playing well, they can put the work on him while Allen finds himself. They really want Husso to get a full season in the AHL with him playing a lot of games. If Allen were to be hurt and be out for a long period, then I think they would call up Husso and play him, with the workload depending on how Johnson looked (and how Husso looked at San Antonio). I don't think they would shelter Husso like they did last year. Husso looked great in the preseason last year, and he told me today he felt he was even better than that in the AHL afterward. He'll be getting the full game tonight, so the Blues are giving him a real look. But Husso will start the season in San Antonio.
It's more than just rest, but it can't be too serious because Perron was a full participant in practice. Sounds more like soreness than an injury. For those who missed it, Yeo said that Perron would not be making the trip to Iowa today "to be safe." He missed the last half of practice on Monday, his group had Tuesday off, and he was out there today, on a line with Schwartz and Schenn in practice. Now they move Fabbri on to that line, or move Blais there and put Fabbri with Steen and Bozak. We have yet to be given the body sector for Perron's injury.
With the centers they have, Thomas isn't going to be centering Tarasenko or Schwartz any time soon, unless someone gets hurt. If they're playing him at center, it will be on the fourth line, so he'd be playing with that cast of characters. So it doesn't make much sense to play him with those guys now. He made a few passes last night that caught some teammates by surprise. He gave a great setup to Sanford that he wasn't expecting. And Kyrou isn't going to be playing with O'Reilly and Maroon in the season either, though there are some scenarios that could see him getting a third line spot. But you can never go wrong by looking at the path of least resistance. Kyrou doesn't have to go through waivers, so they can send him to San Antonio without risk of losing him and let him get game experience and be ready for a callup. Thomas may have an edge on making the team because his option is to go back to juniors. But, as I've said before and will say again, if he makes the team, he'll be playing.
People seemed happy at the open house, but not many were in the upper deck and the new amenities aren't in full swing. I would think they would be popular because the building needed an injection of life.
O'Reilly seems to be off to a good start, and how he and Maroon fit with Tarasenko will be one of the closely watched events of the season. O'Reilly is already carrying on his Buffalo tradition of staying on the ice long after many of his teammates in practice, leading drills for anyone who wants to keep on going. He's just about the last guy into the dressing room every day. (Which, from a media point of view, isn't always a good thing. We've got places to go, things to do, blogs to post!) Bozak seems to be a mild-mannered guy who will fit in well. We'll get a better feel for on-ice chemistry once we start seeing him in games.
Last year in the preseason, Thomas got clobbered on faceoffs. I forget the number, but he was around 25 percent. He was awful. He was overmatched. Last night, he won 5 out of 9. So people improve, and I think the team can teach him lessons about what not to do with his stick. Kyrou definitely shined last night. He was given a good opportunity and he took it, and now he'll need to keep doing that, and likely on a line with Bozak as the center rather than O'Reilly. He's got speed, and the NHL is all about speed nowadays. I think if Thomas has any kind of camp he'll make the team, and he'll get that nine-game look to see how he does in the real stuff before they have to decide on sending him to juniors or not. Again, the path of least resistance is starting Kyrou in the minors to get lots of games and lots of minutes, but if he continues to impress like he did last night, he may take that option off the table. If he does play and gets in the top three lines, it would move someone of significance to the fourth line, which would be interesting.
I do not know of any, but the $6.5 million Stastny got from Vegas is way more than the Blues would have been willing to pay. I'm sure they called and said hi, but at that price, it wasn't going to happen
I wasn't there, but he had some scoring chances that he didn't finish. But as I said before, he'll get plenty of chances and, as Yeo said today, it's one game for the files. He'll have more chances.
I think they had to know what the situation was when they got into it. The Islanders felt their best chance of getting Tavares to stay was with Lamoriello in charge, but they, more than anyone in the league, must have had a good idea of what the odds were. NHL executives aren't surprised very often. And Trotz has got a Stanley Cup and a nice paycheck, so he'll be fine.
The big free agent signing for the Blues on D next season will be a big, long-term contract for Joel Edmundson. Assuming Vince Dunn makes progress, then you're looking at the last pairing to fill, and they won't have to throw out a lot of money there, especially if Schmaltz is still with the team. And there's always the chance that Bouwmeester comes back for a smaller contract.
At the start of camp, I was thinking this might be the year that we see Bouwmeester on the third pairing, in part to keep his minutes down. But he's been fine in camp so far and looked to be on the second pair the other day. (Things have been mixed up the past few days with games, which the Blues are keeping Bouwmeester out of to keep him fresh and look at other guys.) Bo's been around long enough to know that his next contract won't be like his current contract. He's made about $40 million over his career so far. He'd like to stay in St. Louis, and I think any offer from the Blues, in the $2 or $3 million range, would probably be consistent with what he's being offered by other teams. But all of that is dependent on how this season goes. He's going to be 35 next season. His body broke down, really for the first time in his career, last season. If he misses more games to injury this season, his value will go down. And the other factor is how the young Blues D develops. If Schmaltz and Walman and Reinke all look ready to go, then they'll win out.
50 still is an elusive number in the NHL. Not many get there. It would take more than salsa.
Bokk has gone back to Europe, and his entry level contract will, as they say, slide. This won't count as one of his years, and his contract will not count against the team's 50-contract limit
If Robby Fabbri is healthy and plays as well as he's shown he can, he's a quality addition to the team. Yeo said today "you can tell he's not clean, you can tell his confidence is not quite there, his timing's not quite there, which is 100 percent understandable giving the time he's missed. The tenacity is there, the speed, the puck pursuit is there. I think everything else will come along." He says it's been so long that he doesn't think about the knee, though if he can put that totally out of his mind, he's a better man than I. He's on a one-year contract, making less than $1 million, and he's likely to be playing on the second or third line. Seems like a chance worth taking.