Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 11 a.m. Wednesday

Chat all things Blues with Tom Timmermann at 11 a.m. Wednesday

Get your questions ready and join in at 11 a.m. Wednesday for our weekly Blues chat.

    Greetings one and all for the long-awaited final chat of 2020, easily the most miserable year of my lifetime. It's a weird time for camp to be starting, but it's upon us in a few days. So here we go.
    When Tarasenko comes back, the top 6 includes Tarasenko, O'Reilly, Schwartz, Schenn, Hoffman and Perron in some configuration. 7 if you include Thomas. That means one of them, along with a bunch of other solid players fighting for time in the bottom 6, with some good players left out. Great problem to have. Any thoughts on how the bottom 6 might look?
    It's the third line that will have all the intrigue. If you figure the fourth line is pretty much set with Sundqvist, Barbashev and Clifford, that means as long as Robert Thomas shows he can be a top two center, every other forward on the lineup is battling for one of those three spots. Bozak is the center, and you probably start camp or the season with Sanford and Blais there, based on experience. If Kyrou gets in the lineup, that's where it will be, and it's where Tarasenko likely starts when he's ready to play again as they build him back into game condition. Injuries, of course, are inevitable, so that could change any or all of that, and there could be occasions where they move Sundqvist up to the third line to get a MacEachern or a de la Rose into a game. Coaches and GMs like to talk about competition within the team making players better. It looks like the only way Kyrou gets in is if he outplays Sanford and Blais. 
    Though ultimately, with no bubble, this season may be more of a crap shoot than last season. People will get sick, games will be postponed. It's going to happen. 
    Hi Tom! What's for lunch? And any details on the Dunn deal JT mentioned yesterday?
    Haven't even thought about lunch yet. I've got a jar of peanuts nearby for mid-chat snacks. 
    No further details on the Dunn deal. If you missed it, Jim reported that Dunn's agent said that Dunn will be in camp, which opens Sunday. (I assume his agent means he will be there at the start of camp.) So a deal is imminent. It's possible that the Steen situation changed the parameters of what was possible for a Dunn deal. We'll find out soon enough it appears. And here's the link to Jim's notebook, which has the Dunn deal in it.

    Blues get four national games on NBC networks, including opener at Colorado

    STLtoday.comThe Jan. 13 opener at Colorado has a 9:30 p.m. Central start as the third game of a tripleheader on NBCSN.
    Only one year removed from the Stanley Cup and still very competitive I'm disappointed the Blues didn't get more games scheduled on NBC/NBCSN. Do you think it was because they'll play so much on the west coast?
    Maybe they'll make up the difference on the NHL Network. Unfortunately I don't receive FSMW and other options are very limited.
    If you look at the NBC/NBCSN national schedules, one thing that stands out is: they love teams in the Northeast. And Chicago and Detroit. I count two games from the west, Vegas vs. Colorado and Colorado vs. the Blues among NBC's 15 national games.
    Why? Teams in the east get the best ratings. Last season, the only NBC national game that didn't involve Eastern Conference teams was the Winter Classic. It comes down to what gets people to watch. NBC doesn't view this as a survey course, where they're going to expose you to all the teams so you can make an informed decision. They've got numbers that say, If we show the Flyers and the Bruins or the Blackhawks and the Penguins, people are going to watch. And if we show the Wild and the Avalanche, they won't. That's just how it goes. NBC is paying money for this and needs to get it back. That's by selling ads for more money, which comes with higher ratings. NBC has reams of data on this. They know what works and what doesn't. 
    Now, you do have the added problem that showing West Coast games in prime time on the East or even in the early afternoon on a weekend can lead to some funky West Coast start times. That was a bigger problem when you were going to have fans in the stands, and you didn't want to start a West Coast game with thousands of empty seats. That's less of a problem now. Still, until the country's hockey fans start living in other places, that's how it will go.
    In summary: Life is unfair.
    If they sign Hoffman, like everyone expects, it appears it will limit time for the up and comers like Kyrou. I thought this was suppose to be a year we see if some of the kids could really play with the big boys.
    Could this be a ripple effect of the minor league limits last year?
  • It's fallout from all sorts of things. The flat cap left Hoffman on the market, and left the Blues in a position to snatch up an elite player for a bargain price and if that means Jordan Kyrou's breakthrough season comes a year later, that's how things are going to go. The Blues' Stanley Cup window grows shorter, so this is a good chance to snatch at the brass ring while they can. The fact that Kyrou hasn't definitively made his case figures in. He still has to prove himself. As Doug Armstrong told Jim last week, the shortened camp means very little time for young players to steal a spot. There are no preseason games, only a few scrimmages. For a veteran team like the Blues, the kids will have to wait. 
    But again, there could be chances. The wrong injury at the wrong time will open space. The compressed schedule could lead to players being given time off, though that is not something hockey coaches are disposed to do and not something hockey players like. Giving a healthy O'Reilly or Schenn a day off because they've played a lot of games isn't going to happen. Giving Sanford or Blais or Clifford a day off could, since they will want to get Kyrou and MacEachern and de la Rose and maybe some of the other taxi squad guys a game at some point. It would appear things will be more normal for the 2021-22 season, assuming the COVID situation improves. 
    Happy Hoffman Hump Day Tom (and Jim if you’re out there)! Happy new year.

    A few years ago Hoffman’s wife/girlfriend had issues with the wife/girlfriend of Erik Carlson in San Jose which caused them to trade him, too much drama in the room. Has Hoffman been a disruption with the Panthers? I would think Army and Chief would not want to ruin the chemistry of the team.
    I have not seen any reports of any Hoffman-related disruptions in Florida. And it may not matter: with the restrictions that exist, Blues wives and girlfriends may not ever see each other this year anyway. Heck, there's a chance that I might never meet Hoffman face to face if he's only here one season. 
    And since this is a team that goes heavy on chemistry, if there were problems, Armstrong and Berube would be very cautious about that. 
    How much of a role do you anticipate Husso playing? I remember O'Reilly saying the blues have nine or so back to backs...will that be where he gets his time?
    I believe the number is 10 back to backs. Binnington did do one set of back-to-backs last season, but otherwise, he split them with Allen. So that's probably 10 games Husso gets. They'll ride Binnington pretty hard, I think, and the Blues track record has been to stick with Binnington if he has a bad game because, in his first season, he always bounced back very well He didn't do that quite as well last season. Husso won't play as much as Allen did last season; I would think he would get 20 or so games. And while Husso hasn't gotten in a real NHL game yet, the Blues have given him a full preseason game in the past and he's looked pretty good in them. But you never know until the real stuff begins. And even then, you never know.
    I haven’t seen anything mentioned about why Dallas was moved to the Central over STL or MIN? Was it to even out the competitiveness of the divisions? Or my theory is that because most teams in the central (excluding Detroit/Chicago for sure based on NFL games) appear poised to allow fans early than teams in the West outside of Arizona potentially?
    I don't know that the league has ever specifically said why it was Dallas rather than St. Louis or Minnesota. At one point, it was Dallas and the Blues in the West Division and Minnesota in the Central, which would have had the top four teams from last year's West in one place, and Dallas asked to be moved and so they and the Wild were flopped. There were going to have to be two Midwestern teams put in the West to balance things out. I think the Blues are just good soldiers and said, wherever you want to put us is fine. And as Armstrong pointed out, in January and February, you'd rather be in Southern California and Las Vegas and Arizona, where you can at least get outside and walk around. Being stuck in a hotel room in Columbus is less enjoyable. Yes, it stinks for start times for the rest of us. 
    As for fans in stands, I don't know. The net benefit of all of that seems small and such a wild card that I don't know how the NHL could factor it in. The arenas that can have fans will have fans. 
    I'm a fan of Tarasenko and hope he can be a Blues lifer, but I think he was one of very few people to be disappointed in O'Reilly wearing the C. It's more than a badge of honor or a simple status thing and Tarasenko has not lived up to the demands in dealing with the media/public.
    Perhaps it wasn't a factor, but after 3 surgeries and a lot of missed time the C should be on the ice and in the locker room.
    There were a limited number of people who were candidates to wear the C, and Tarasenko was one of them, and if anyone was going to be in his camp, it would be him. Can't blame him for that. And by being the only one of the A's returning, he had a case for ascending to the spot. It could be that, having won a Stanley Cup, wearing the C is the next thing he would like to have. If he were healthy, that would have been one more factor into the equation. It's also possible that while he was disappointed he didn't get it, it's not something that's consuming his every day life. He also didn't want to have another shoulder operation. It happened. You put it behind you and move on.
  • I google translated the Russian interview with Tarasenko & thought what he said about not being named Captain was exactly what he should’ve said. If he had said he didn’t care, I would’ve been concerned about his dedication & commitment. He didn’t sound bitter just disappointed. I agree with ROR being named Captain, but am happy to see Vladi has the desire to lead this team. As Armstrong said, you need a lot of leaders. When Vladi comes back from injury I expect him to be one of those leaders. What’s your take on it all?
    For a lot of players, especially really good ones like Tarasenko, being a captain is something to aspire to. It validates your position. It's the ultimate stamp of approval for being an elite player. But only a few players can get it, 31 at any moment right now, and certainly Tarasenko has to feel this was his last, best chance to be captain. It will be O'Reilly's C as long as he wants it. I will never come down on a player for speaking his mind.
    Is Kostin staying in Russia for the season?
    Armstrong had indicated he was going to come back, and the Blues announced Toropchenko and Alexandrov would play in Europe but not Kostin. I am not sure where he is physically at the moment. Ultimately, he'd likely get more games in the KHL, but as someone who the Blues see as a player in their immediate future, they'll want to have him around this season.
    SLU just announced they will start phasing in fans at Chafeitz...any news on what Enterprise will be doing?
    So far, all the Blues have said is that the first four home games will have no fans present. They'll continue to look at the situation and they do want to phase fans in. SLU began doing it with family members of players and staff. So far, nothing from the Blues on when fans might start coming in, though they want it to happen.
    Seems like we have a glut of bodies to round out the bottom 6 and bottom 4 if we sign Hoffman and get a "Dunn deal" (sorry, had to do it). But I believe we need to move a 1-2mil to do that, assuming Dunn's deal comes in the 2-3m range anticipated. Where do you think Army does that? A couple low price guys like MacEachern/de la rose/ Sanford, the glut of D men (Scandella), or higher priced forward like Bozak?
    Keep in mind that while moving someone like MacEachern takes $900,000 off the books, he'll have a replacement coming in, who will make $900,000 or so. So that's not going to save you any money. To open up actual cash space, you have to move someone who makes more than the minimum or it's just a wash. Another option is going with a shorter roster -- one extra forward instead of two? only six D? -- but that means when you bring those guys up and down from the taxi squad, they have to clear waivers and you risk losing them. If the Blues are going to put Walman or Mikkola into the lineup, I'm sure they'd rather do it on their own terms than have it forced upon them by another team claiming someone off waivers. In any case, creating spots will entail more than just unloading MacEachern or de la Rose.
    Hi, Tom. Perhaps a random question here: Is there any update on prospect Erik Foley? It's been over two years since his concussion. Forgive me for not remembering but I think either you or Jim did an article on him earlier this year. He was the prized prospect coming back from Winnipeg in the Stastny deal. It'd be a shame if he's unable to play soon, or again.
  • With the limitations on the number of players you can have in camp, even if Foley was able to play, I doubt we'd see him. Here's what Jim wrote about him during the pause:

    Whatever happened to Blues prospect Erik Foley?

    STLtoday.comOnce-promising forward has been sidelined since suffering concussion in 2018. He still has symptoms and is 'dealing with some mental health things.'
    9:30 start time for opener (or any game) really is ridiculous.
    While that 9:30 start for the opener likely won't be the only one, that late game is more a factor of NBCSN wanting a splashy opening day with three games and the Blues and Avs being the most appetizing matchup the league can give them west of the Mississippi. But because they're cramming three games into what's usually a two-game slot, that game will start even later than normal and let's face it, NBCSN knows that a late-starting game between Anaheim and Los Angeles is not exactly going to convince people east of the Rockies to stay up late. So the reality is, if the Blues weren't going to be good, they wouldn't be in this predicament. It's the price you pay. But it's also the only tripleheader NBCSN has. Any other late starts will be because the games are in California, Arizona or Nevada. 
    We should be seeing the start times for the rest of the Blues games set soon.  
    Thanks TT for taking time out for the chat this morning! I know the old axiom that it’s impossible to have too many good players but with the addition of Hoffman the Blues seem really loaded at forward. My question is about Robert Thomas. Do you think he can force his way into a top 6 role? I would think entering his 3rd year a speedy center iceman with great playmaking potential would be important to have on one of the top lines. I look forward to your comments. Thank you
    The Blues have said they want him to be a top six center, so it's not so much him forcing his way in. The Blues have opened the door and will give him every chance possible to do that. That's his natural position, and they think he's ready to take it. He showed last season he can do it, though he has to improve on his faceoffs. I would expect him to start the season centering Schwartz and Schenn, and I'll leave it to you as to whether that's the first or second line. He will stay there until circumstances dictate otherwise.
    What is the league's view of Doug Armstrong? I don't see how he can't be considered among the top GMs in the league (maybe even the top)
    Well, last year, in voting for the GM of the year award, which is done by the 31 GMs, five other league execs and five media members (none of which are me), Doug Armstrong got exactly no votes. 12 GM's got at least a third place vote. Now, as someone who has had a vote for National League Manager of the Year before, I'll say that means not a lot, because those awards almost always go to the GM or coach whose team does better than expected or made some turnaround inspired by some major moves. The Blues obviously didn't do that. But considering the deals Armstrong has made, from which you can draw a straight line to the Stanley Cup -- the Blues didn't win it because they stunk and drafted Connor McDavid -- he has to be considered up there as one of the best.
    With a short camp and no preseason games this looks eerily similar to the restart last summer. Covid received a lot of the blame for the lackluster showing once the Blues restarted. Do you think we'll hear if anyone associated with the team was affected since last season ended?
    I hope they start this year with a better understanding of how things went last year and how to avoid the same pitfalls and lackluster effort. Berube seems like someone who won't let it happen on his watch.
    Unless someone on the team comes out and says it, I doubt we'll know if anyone had COVID over the offseason. The Blues and the league aren't going to announce it, and the league has said they won't name names during training camp, but will once the season begins, which is good because it was pretty painfully obvious when it happened. Was anything gained by the Blues not saying why Vince Dunn was gone for exactly 10 days of practice? 
    I would expect a better start this time than in the bubble. The Blues got themselves into a bad frame of mind by concluding those three placement games didn't really matter. They snapped out of that malaise in Game 2 vs. Vancouver, but still managed to lose that one because hockey. And down 2-0, that's a tough come back to make and they couldn't do it. There could be a slow start to this season, but I think that could be more widespread with the short camp time. It won't be because they've got COVID issues (unless they have them in camp) or aren't putting enough importance on the games. 
  • Freddie’s question about Covid got me thinking... any chance one of the players who caught it last summer will give an interview about their experience & how it affected their play. Since it affects the lungs, you’d think it would’ve caused some stamina issues on the ice.
    It would be great if they did talk about it.
    I don't remember how it works with expansion draft rules, but do the Blues need to protect guys like Thomas and Kyrou? If so, how does that affect a guy like Kyrou? Would the Blues be concerned with potentially losing a younger player like him who maybe hasn't gotten the most opportunities?
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