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 Timmermann in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.




    Those are two different issues. The Blues won't be in red ink because of their salaries. They'll be in red ink if they miss out on the playoffs and don't get the additional revenue for a second season in a row. (Actually, they might be in red ink regardless.) The team has made a commitment to be a team that spends to the cap. If the salary cap goes up, it's because league revenues go up. Now, will the Blues be able to re-sign Pietrangelo to a big contract and have the rest of the roster they would like to have? That's the question they face going forward. The cap will go up after this season, and the Blues will have some space, but when you have a lot of veterans due raises coming up at the same time, it gets messy, which is one of the reasons Pietrangelo and Schenn are talked about as trade candidates because it will be tough to give both big contracts after the 2019-20 season.
  • Hi Tom. Is Jaden Schwartz the Blues equivalent of Allen Craig? Is there are a market for him anywhere?
    I think there would be a market for Schwartz. His goal scoring troubles this season are so pronounced that they seem to defy probability. In fact, they likely have, which why everyone thinks he's bound to come around and start scoring. His shooting percentage is 2.9, which is clearly microscopic. (Last year it was 15.3. For his career, it's 13.7.) It's not as if he's not generating chances; he is. And the rest of his game is strong. So I think the Blues could easily find a trade partner. Would they get us as much as they would have a year or two ago? Probably not, and his string of injuries might have something to do with that, even though none of them are really related other than being a product of his style of play. And unlike Craig, I don't think if the Blues traded him that he would be out of the league in a couple seasons.
    Tom - One more thing from me today. I know you've covered a lot of soccer in your time. I think I remember a World Cup or two. Thus, I am guessing you are at least keeping an eye on the current effort to land a MLS team in St. Louis. What's your take on that? I am optimistic to a degree, but find it a little embarrassing St. Louis officials did not make this a priority many years ago because of the area's soccer heritage. I know there were stadium issues, but St. Louis should have been among the initial cities in the league. By the way, agree with you on the Blackhawks.
    On a soccer aside, St. Louis would have been an original MLS team if there had been a venue for them to play at when the league started. If the Rams had played in an outdoor stadium rather than a dome with astroturf, there would have been a team. But there wasn't. I'm optimistic, but I've been down this road before, so it's a very guarded optimism. Something always seems to go wrong. Jeff Cooper thought he had a team in the bag, then the league started raising the expansion fees and then he decided that at that price, with the limited investors he had, it wasn't going to work. The pockets seem deep enough this time, if they can just get the stadium in place. Also, it remains to be seen if the league pauses a bit in expansion after team No. 28. 
     
    For the record, I've been to five men's World Cups, starting in Mexico in '86, and one Women's World Cup. I covered two men's and one women's for the P-D. I was in Los Angeles for the others.
    Tom, you hit on something I've been wondering about for some time. The players will never say it publicly, but I wonder if they play too cautiously in front of Allen, thinking one mistake could lead to a goal and ruin his confidence. Maybe they are playing looser with Binnington in there. They sure are playing better. Any thoughts?
    That's long been a theory about goalies, and it was put forward last season with Carter Hutton, who the Blues also seemed to play better in front of. (This seems to be a trend.) There's a case for backups to have better numbers because they are more likely to play against weaker teams, or that when an untested goalie like Binnington goes in that everyone is more focused on their defensive principles, but over the past three seasons, it has seemed like the Blues have played better in front of the goalie who's not Jake Allen. (OK, maybe they didn't play better in front of Chad Johnson.) Blues players have been nothing but supportive of Allen, and have put much of the blame on themselves for the way they have played in front of him, whether it's dealing with rebounds or clearing bodies from in front of the crease or whatever else it may be.
    With all the offensive talent added did the Blues find that their identity is actually to be a good defensive team? We saw so many odd men rushes in the first third of the season, so many open goals from the slot, is Berube preaching something different defensively for has the change been more about the players adjusting? I also seem like now if you take too many penalties or don’t play well defensively your ice is cut and you may be a scratch.
    I think the staff has always stressed defense before all else, which is why you haven't seen as much of Jordan Kyrou as many would like. At the start of the season, boy were there a lot of odd-man rushes; now, not nearly as much. Part of that is learning responsibilities. When Gunnarsson scored his goal at Columbus, when he was up front by the net, O'Reilly dropped back to cover his spot. Things like that weren't happening as much earlier, and if a defenseman ventured too far forward and the puck got turned over, it was off to the races. So if Berube is preaching anything, it's responsibility and the players responding to that. He also has been more willing to sit players, like Perron, Edmudson or Bortuzzo, over penalties (or other issues). Yeo briefly made Bouwmeester and Maroon healthy scratches, though as many will recall, there was a feeling he should have done that a lot sooner with Bouwmeester.
    You said if Perron stays out awhile you could see Thomas moving to the second line, who would then drop to the fourth line?
  • Thomas seems less cut out for a fourth line role, so you could move him up and drop Steen or Maroon down to the fourth line. Both have been there on a few occasions this season
    Why would the blues not entertain the fact to buyout Steen. He is old and slow. Always a step or two behind. At 5,75 mil for two more would seem like a prime target. Just nowhere close to the production we should have from that salary. And he is not a shut down defender either
    I don't think Armstrong has bought out any contracts since he's been GM, so it's clearly not something he wants to do. I think Steen is a case of someone who needs to be used judiciously. They need to watch his minutes and keep him fresh for later in the season or the playoffs. Steen wants to be out there as much as he can; that's the kind of player he is. But it could be a case where less is more for Steen.
    Kyrou isn’t cut out for a fourth line role but that is where he played. It’s funny everyone says he’s not ready when he wasn’t put in the right position to succeed and barely played. Hard to expect him to play 7 minutes in the fourth line and set the world on fire when that’s not the kind of player he is.
    Kyrou has gotten brief looks on higher lines and his minutes have been every bit as low. It's not his offense that concerns them, it's his play without the puck. And he's 20 years old. This is his first  year pro. He likely will be with the team on a regular basis next season. One season in the AHL isn't going to kill him and there's a good chance it will be better for him.
    When do we see Klim Kostin in St. Louis ... what will his ultimate role be?
    He'll get a good look next season; too soon to say if he'll be in a Sammy Blais up and down role or if he'll stick around; he'll turn 20 in May so he's still a kid. His play will determine how he's used next season. The hope is that he'll be a top six forward. If he gets called up this season, it means a lot of guys have been hurt.
    Who woulda thought.. Boumeester being an asset again. Really has turned around his game.He actully has a little speed left in the tank
    We may never know all of what bothered him at the start of the season; Bouwmeester hasn't wanted to go into detail on it but has suggested it was more than just the surgery he had. But it does seem clear that he wasn't quite ready when the Blues put him out there at the start of the season.
  • It might be time for Berube to sit Schwartz for a couple of games; it seemed to put Perron back on track.
    While there's a case to be made that even one game off might be the breath of fresh air that Schwartz needs, the Blues have been pleased with how Schwartz has played in other parts of his game that they don't want to take him out and they remain convinced he's going to break out any game now. Perron had committed 10 penalties in the 15 games before he was scratched and that's why he was benched. (He also had three goals in those 15 games.) Schwartz doesn't have anything similar (other than a lack of goals).
    longtimebluesfan- It's obvious something is going on when Allen is in goal. The team looks different when he isn't in the crease. Proof is in the pudding and I'm sure there are some stats to back up any claim. What's really important to point out is that the soft psyche seems to have been hardened now. I think at this stage it doesn't matter to this club who is in net. They seem to finally have some belief in their system and DEFINITELY have shown that with their work ethic over the last few games. Will it stick? Time will tell. I am not an Allen supporter, nor am I on the Binnington is the answer bus. I do believe that the team is coming together finally and it's being reflected in the wins column. Brian Elliott is nearing his return. Lemme guess? We should go trade Allen for him now? Only thing I can say with certainty is that the time to trade Petro is now! Terrific right handed dman, but his ceiling is coming if it hasn't already. Move him and stock the cupboard. Save the money for a good looking FA pool this offseason.
    Unless you've got Martin Brodeur, the most popular goalie is a) the backup; b) the guy on another team. 
     
    As for trading Pietrangelo, while his value is certainly the highest right now, when he would be more than just a rental for someone, getting fair market value for him will be tough. He's hard to replace and getting just draft picks or prospects for him isn't enough. You have to get someone who can play today, and play well. 
    Any more questions? Either I'm answering too quickly or this recent run of success is leaving everyone too comfortable.
    Oh, and I took this opportunity to look at the CBA regarding Binnington. Here's a cut and paste from capfriendly.com on what it takes to be a Group VI unrestricted free agent:
     
    A player whose contract is expiring and meets all of the following conditions shall become an unrestricted free agent (UFA):
    The player is 25 years or older (as of June 30th of the calendar year the contract is expiring).
    The player has completed 3 or more professional seasons - qualified by 11 or more professional games (for an 18/19 year old player), or 1 or more professional games (for a player aged 20 or older). This can include NHL, minor league, and European professional league seasons played while under an SPC.
    The player has played less than 80 NHL games, or 28 NHL games of 30 minutes or greater for a goaltender. 
     
    Binnington is 25 as we speak; he has completed three or more pro seasons; he's played more than 30 minutes in 11 NHL games. So 17 more games would make him a UFA. The Blues have 31 games to go; so depending how much the Blues use him, he could be a UFA after this season
    If Binnington continues to play well does Allen start a home game at any point this year?
    April 4 vs. Philadelphia, the second part of a back to back with a game at Chicago before it? (If Chicago is miraculously back in the race.) March 21 vs. Detroit?
     
    If the Blues keep winning with Binnington in goal, it will be tough to take him out. But I'll note that Allen has won a lot of games over the years, including several playoff series. Playing him should not be seen as some move of last resort. 
    what is Schwartz' contract status - IF the the Blues are convinced they want to keep him and this year is an abberation, should they try and sign him now for a longer deal/
  • Schwartz has two more seasons after this one at $5.35 million. He'll be a UFA after his contract runs out and he'll be 29 years old. They can't extend him until he's got a year to go on his contract, so that decision can't be made until the fall of 2020. So the Blues will have a whole 'nother year to look at Schwartz and see what he can do. If he has another year like this one, the Blues would certainly be hesitant to extend him.
    Are there stats on odd man rushes converted? Both for and against. The blues seem awful and dont even get a shot on goal half the time.
    There aren't official stats on it. I was just poking around corsica hockey and didn't see anything there. The Blues have gotten better at preventing them. They don't seem to score too often on them.
    Let's say the Blues end up with a WC spot. Would you rather be in the Central or Pacific side of the bracket? In recent years the Pacific might have been an "easier" path but looks like a coin flip this year
    If you look at the odds for teams getting to the Western Conference finals, the teams in the Pacific have better odds than teams in the Central because the Central teams have to go through Nashville or Winnipeg or both. A Pacific team doesn't have to do that, though Calgary won't be easy. I think you're better off in crossing over to the Pacific side of the bracket, though I'd also say that a Central team playing there would have some terrible travel for the first two rounds. (Also, it would be even tougher on the media covering those games.) But yes, it's not as clear as it has been in seasons past. 
     
    Tom, have you played Hockey before? Did you ever see Bobby Orr play? Meet Dan Kelly? See Gretzy play as an Oiler?
    I grew up in Southern California, where I think there was one ice rink within a 20-mile radius of my house. Maybe even farther. So it wasn't much of an option. I did follow the Kings, back to the days of legends like Bill "Cowboy" Flett. Since my parents did not share that interest -- we went to a lot of baseball games at Dodger Stadium -- I only saw a handful of hockey games in person back then. I didn't seen Gretzky play until he came to the Kings, when I would occasionally cover the team.
    No Western Conference teams play tonight, so you can go about your business tonight without worrying about things. The schedule gets busy again on Thursday: Blues at Tampa, Avs at Caps, Ducks at Senators, Stars at Predators, Blue Jackets at Coyotes, Canucks at Blackhawks. All of those games will have some impact on the Blues and their playoff pursuit.
    And on that note, and the three-hour mark, it's time to move on. Thanks for stopping by. I may be back next week, since Jim may be en route to Arizona at the time. That's a big trip for the Blues next week: at Arizona, at Colorado, at Minnesota. A gap could open one way or the other after that one.
     
    Thanks for the questions. 
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