Chat all things Blues with beat writer Tom Timmermann

Chat all things Blues with beat writer Tom Timmermann

Tom Timmermann chats live with fans of the 2019 Stanley Cup champions, 11 a.m. Wednesday.

    Greetings one and all to a chat that slips in between the end of the Stanley Cup and the draft and free agency. Tip of the hat to Tampa Bay for making me look good on my fourth try at picking a Stanley Cup winner as each of my previous picks getting eliminated. And congratulations to all-around nice guy Kevin Shattenkirk on winning the Stanley Cup and to Pat Maroon on winning a second, which is pretty impressive since at the midpoint of last season, it didn't look like he would get to the end of the season. There's a lesson there for all of us. So on with the chat!
    Happy Hump Day Tom.

    Do you have an update for us on Jim Thomas? Get well Jim!
    Jim Thomas, my colleague and frequent chat room star, has tested positive for COVID-19, in case you missed that development. I asked Jim this morning for an update since I guessed someone would ask -- Thanks Barry -- and here's what he said:
    "I'm feeling better and hope to be back to work soon."
    So that's good news. No one knows how long these things will take, and Jim's symptoms have been mild, but getting better is a nice step forward. 
    I may be in the minority, but I would not be upset if Petro doesn't resign. He is a Norris Trophy quality defenseman, but that contract will be a burden in 4-5 seasons and I do think the Blues have some good defensemen that can step in, and Parayko can take another step up. With Tarensenko out, do you anticipate an offensive piece added? I have heard there is mutual interest in Bobby Ryan. Do you think he may be a good fit?
    The challenge all along on re-signing Pietrangelo has been what happens in the final years of that contract. The last three seasons of an eight-year contract are almost always going to be dicey. I forget if it was with Schenn's or Faulk's contract, but Armstrong admitted it: We'll be overpaying in the final years of this deal, but if that player takes care of us in the early seasons, we can make it up to them at the end. 
    The one thing the Blues have is defensemen laying in wait, and one more now that Perunovich has signed. So if the Blues don't sign Pietrangelo, they will have some room and no need to spend it on a defenseman at that point, so I would think they would look at a forward. 
    Bobby Ryan, who was bought out of his deal by Ottawa, is an interesting target. One of the keys will be where his salary offers land. He was making $7.25 million at Ottawa and clearly the Senators didn't want to pay that and no one else in the league did either, or they'd have been able to trade him. And they couldn't work out a trade where Ottawa would retain some salary. (Ottawa is still on the hook for $3.5 million this season for Ryan, so presumably they would have been OK with retaining that much to make a trade and get something in return.) So the market for Ryan looks to be around $4 million tops. He's 32 years old and is at best a 20-goal scorer. He looks to have come out ahead in his battle with alcohol abuse (and the Blues have an assistant coach in Jim Montgomery who has gone through the same thing.) It could be a situation where Ryan could do well. Could a two or three-year deal there make sense? If the Blues have the cap space, it could be worth a try. 
    We can't keep both Petro. and Payrako. So we let Petro. go and trade Bozak and Dunn that will give us cap room to sign a scorer. Or we can trade Payrako sign Petro. still trade Dunn and Bozak to have money for a scorer. This team has defense but needs scoring help.  If you can get a team to take someone else other than Dunn then I'm all for it.  I know that some will say if we trade Bozak and Dunn we can keep both D men but Parayko contract is up in 2 years and the year after that O'Reilly and Vlads's contract is up. If we trade Colton now we could get a # 1 and/or an up and an up and coming player. Steen's money will have to go to Schwartz Kyrou and Thomas.
    Sure the Blues can keep Pietrangelo and Parayko. That's what they're working toward now. They would have a lot of money tied up in their defense at that point -- about $28 million in 2020-21 --  but there are worse things, especially if the D you're paying are all good. Trading Parayko seems a big step. He's 27 years old, so he's got a lot of years ahead of him and trading a guy entering what should be his prime and keeping a guy who, while better at the moment, is about to be leaving his prime seems like the wrong move to make. A Dunn trade doesn't save you much, maybe $1 million when you factor what you have to pay his replacement. A Bozak deal would open up space, yes, but finding a taker will be a challenge. He's 34 years old, makes $5 million and is a third-line forward. But Armstrong found a taker for Jori Lehtera, so stranger things have happened. But yes, the team needs offense, but that may come down to a situation where they need Jordan Kyrou to perform.
    Do you think it puts blues at disadvantage not to do bonuses
  • I assume you mean signing bonuses, which the Blues don't do. (They inherited one with Ryan O'Reilly's contract.) Players like signing bonuses, so not giving them could discourage some players -- say, Pietrangelo -- from signing here. On the other hand, management likes them and when you're a team like the Blues who don't have the cash flow that other teams have, it helps with the finances.
  • Let’s play hypothetical here. Let’s say Army finds a way to create more cap space but Petro still doesn’t resign. Do you think the Blues would go after Taylor Hall? I know they’ve had interest in him before and would bring speed/scoring to a team that needs it. He said winning was priority #1 this offseason when signing with a new team and would be a great fit IMO.
  • Unless the free agent market totally craters, Taylor Hall is probably going to get paid something comparable to what Pietrangelo will get, in the $8 million range. So the Blues would face the same challenge clearing space for him that they face with Pietrangelo. As Jeff Gordon noted in his column this morning, the high end guys are going to get paid, it's the middle class where you could get a bargain. There will be a bidding war on Hall, and I don't know that the Blues are going to win a bidding war with their cap space. No doubt he would be a great addition.
  • Mr. Timmerman,

    Thanks for chatting again!

    I have read the KHL is mired in a COVID outbreak, with some teams having half of their players out. I wondered if that would change anything with the loan of Kostin to Avangard Omsk, but your story about the Blues now sending Toropchenko to Kunlun Red Star would suggest not. Are the Blues fine with the risk? Did these two players request to be loaned to KHL teams as opposed to another European league?
  • The Blues were looking at places where the receiving team would let their player go whenever the season started, and in both cases, they loaned a Russian player to a team playing in Russia with a coach who has been in the NHL (as a player or coach). I don't think they would want to send someone like Perunovich (or any North American player) to play overseas where they didn't know the language since the orientation period would wipe out many of the potential gains. For Kostin and Toropchenko, this is no big deal. For the same reason, if the Blues were to loan out Mikkola, they'd look first for a team in Finland. Clearly everyone is fine with the risk, though I have to admit I don't know the isolation policies these teams are going through in the KHL. It's obviously not an NHL level bubble system.
  • Mr. Timmermann,

    ESPN ran a "bubble confidential" story in which they interviewed a number of players and asked about conditions in the bubble. There were several complaints that the NHL did not deliver as promised on accommodations and activities, particularly in Edmonton. Did you hear anything from Blues players about their level of satisfaction regarding conditions?
  • The Blues were in the bubble in Edmonton for about a month, and even at that point, while they were disappointed in their season's end, they were not complaining about being home. They all said that it was basically dull, with just not enough to do. There was talk early on about potential extracurricular activities, but the NHL schedule ended up being so tight that it got tough to fit those things in. Most of those teams played every other day. Only a few teams had multiple days off in a row after winning a series early. And of course the failure to easily allow families to join them wasn't good, but in a lot of cases, players with kids weren't going to have their families go anyway. Having two or three kids stuck in a hotel room for four days in the initial quarantine would not have been enjoyable for anyone. It would have been great for everyone if they could have figured that out. One of the fun things about the Blues Stanley Cup win was that after Game 7 in Boston, most everyone had parents and families down on the ice to join in the celebration. That was a great moment for everyone.
  • When do you think fans will be allowed to return to games?
  • It is impossible to say with any certainty. If a vaccine becomes widely available, that will be a precursor. If there's a test that can give extremely accurate results in 10 or so minutes, and is relatively inexpensive, that will help. If the league was playing outdoors, that would help, but since the games are indoors, it's going to be a while, and it's going to be gradual. Ten percent at first, then 25 percent, then up from there. But we're really at the mercy of the doctors and researchers, and the numbers taking a significant dip.
  • Tom, thank you for the chat. I know I’ll probably be in the minority on this and I’d enjoy seeing what other chatter’s think but I for one kinda wish the Blues move on from Petro and invest his money elsewhere in the organization. He’s not going to get any better than he is now so you can expect some sort of decrease in his play not matter how large or small. IMO the team has more glaring needs than defense. They need to find a scorer. We have a good crop of young defensemen coming up and Petro will surely be blocking one of those opportunities.
    Moving on from Pietrangelo actually seems to be an OK result with many people in the chat. I think the next two or three years the Blues can expect to get their money's worth out of Pietrangelo. But obviously, as you go further and further along, that becomes less and less likely. That's the tightrope Armstrong has to walk: does he go for broke in the next three seasons when the chances are clearly there or does he concern himself with what the team looks like in years 4-8? Since bad results in the next three seasons can get a guy fired before he gets to years 4-8, there's ample incentive to look short term. 
    No question offense is the team's need. I don't see any of the Blues young forwards becoming a Tarasenko type scorer. Could Sanford or Kyrou be a Brayden Schenn level scorer? Would that be sufficient for the team's success?  These are the questions Armstrong has to solve internally. The Blues aren't likely to get a high draft pick any time soon, so do they need to go out and spend on a free agent? And if so, is this the best time to do it?
    I know trading Bozak will be tough. That's why I said put Dunn in the trade. We have plenty of D that need to play. The optimum here is letting Petro go You have 5 mill plus the money from the Bozak trade to get a scorer
    Obviously trades have to have to have two partners, so you can't trade assets no one wants, but I think the Blues would be more apt to trade a younger prospect than an established NHL player who is cost-contained. Teams love cost-contained players. It's essential to survival. Now, maybe the only way you can make a trade is to include someone like Dunn, but I think the Blues would consider other options first.
    The rumor is that Armie offered Petro $8M for 8 years = $64M. Even if a team broke the bank and offered $10M for 7 years (max term for anyone other than the Blues) = $70M. Is all of this over $6M over 8 years? Seems like a small amount to kill a deal. Petro is a long-term thinker. Bonus or not, he'll get all his money within 8 years and have the rest of his life to deal with it. The no-movement clause seems like not a huge deal. Petro's earned that. None of these issues seem insurmountable. Is there something I'm missing? Maybe Armie is thinking the way some in this chat are - that the not-signing Petro dividend is looking better and better?
    Some of it is how willing a team is to veer from its internal policy. If you never give out a No Movement Clause, it's easy to say in negotiations, 'We don't do that. Next question.' Same with signing bonuses. It eliminates one part of the negotiation. If Armstrong gives one to Pietrangelo, what does he say when Tarasenko asks for one? Parayko? Can you sell a 'If you're the captain of a Stanley Cup winner you can get one' exception? Armstrong has never feared no-trade clauses, because as he says, it just means you have to ask the guy before you trade him. As Patric Hornqvist found with Pittsburgh, if the team doesn't want you, it's in your best interests to move on. A No Movement Clause ties your hands a little more, and there could be cases in the final years of a long-term contract, you've got to try to do something. Is there a world where the Blues try to send a 37-year-old Pietrangelo to the minors? That seems unlikely. As for the signing bonuses, the league is entering some uncertain times ahead and Armstrong may see that as limiting his flexibility financially. It was an issue on the O'Reilly trade that on the day the trade was made, the Blues had to pay his signing bonus, $7.5 million, right away. 
    But it's all pieces in the puzzle. The actor James Garner once described a negotiation with Universal Studios where he asked for three things in the negotiation hoping to get two. And there was one thing he really wanted. Can the Blues and the Pietrangelo split the difference? 
    Crazy Thought or Not: The Jets are thin on D, and they don't seem fully committed to Laine. What about Faulk for Laine? Faulk would be back to a role he has done well in the past, and be out of the Petro shadow. That gives the Jets some needed stability on the blueline for several years. Laine helps the Blues with Tarasenko's injury. The salaries are a wash next year and then Laine become a RFA. Thoughts... Thanks!
    Faulk has a no-trade clause, so he would have to approve any deal, and no offense to Winnipeg, but that may not be the place he would sign off on going to. He is from Minnesota, so it's not that far away, but I don't know that there's enough of an upside for him on that one.
    With the Seattle Expansion Draft coming after the next season who are the Blues not protecting and who do you think Seattle will take from us?
  • Over at capfriendly.com, there's a Seattle expansion draft simulator, where you can go through every team and protect players and see who's left. I was noodling around on it yesterday -- and one of the great things it tells you who doesn't have to be protected, like Kostin, and who does -- and figured, assuming Pietrangelo was still on the team, O'Reilly, Tarasenko, Schenn, Schwartz, Sundqvist, Thomas, Kyrou, Pietrangelo, Paryako, Dunn and Binnington. Now, the problem with that is there's a decent chance not all of those guys are on the team at the end of next season. Or do things change in a way that alter your decisions: Is Tarasenko's shoulder keep him out again, lessening the chance he gets picked? Does Sanford play his way in to a spot where the Blues don't want to lose him? Does Kyrou playing his way into a spot where the Blues are OK with losing him? Do the Blues not want to lose Perron another time, or are they confident that Seattle won't take a 33-year-old forward? But if that's the protected list, Justin Faulk would be a prime candidate. Or what if you protect Perron and expose Sundqvist? He would be another candidate.
    In any case, the Blues are going to lose someone they wish they still had. 
    I am going to create a whole new minority. Let Petro go and don't sign a scorer. This team is good enough to make the playoffs. Pocket the money and let the kids play. We'll know by the trade deadline where we are at and do we need somebody. A lot of money comes off the books at the end of next year. If we need more pieces, we'll have the money to get them.
    Another camp heard from. Among Sanford, Blais, Kyrou, Kostin, even Barbashev, can one or more of those guys up their game to be the scorer the Blues need? That's a lot of options, and one or more of them is going to find themselves in some prime real estate with a chance to put up some numbers. (Plus an expanded playmaking role for Thomas.) It's not out of the question. Sanford has shown he can score goals; the next step will be greater consistency. Kyrou's speed is tantalizing; he just needs to up his all-around game so he can be on the ice more. 
    Not to mix chats, but that sounds like a Cardinals type move. But if the Blues are prepared to spend to the cap, I think Armstrong will do it. He won't throw money away, but if he's got $4 million to play with, he'll spend it on someone. 
    I know the season just ended but do you happen to know when they are likely to start back up? Normally the season would start early October. Just curious if you heard any rumblings. Sorry if someone asked this already asked this I just logged in.
    Nope, no one knows, but discussions on that will happen soon. Right now, prior to Jan. 1 seems a reasonable guess. NBC has the Olympics to air in July of 2021, so that would be a date for the NHL to try to be done by so they don't lose their broadcast partner for three weeks. If that's the case, an 82-game schedule gets trickier, even though Bettman has said that's what they want to do. There won't be a full-scale bubble like there was this season. Could they do short-term bubbles, where six teams all go to one city for two weeks, play a bunch of games against each other, then go home? That's one of the ideas floated about.
    Any hockey in the rest of 2020 seems unlikely, though we could see camps opening in December. Again, it's going to depend on what the science says. The league can't afford to play that many games with no fans, so it has to balance that with the need to get started.  
    I'm of the opinion that Armstrong should be clearing cap space for someone. Either to fit Petro in with an extension, or a forward if he leaves to supplement the scoring. With the draft coming up in less than a week, do you see any moves being made before then?
  • If the Blues are going to create cap space, now is the time to make a trade because the Blues aren't going to want an actual person making an actual NHL salary in return. So any Blues trade is going to be for a prospect and a draft pick or two. With that the case, the time between now and the draft would be the time to make the deal, because otherwise that player you're getting is a whole nother year away from the NHL. And free agency starts right after the draft, so now is the time. 
    However, teams don't have to be cap compliant in the offseason, so the Blues could re-sign Pietrangelo (or sign someone else), be a few million over and make those deals later to get under the cap. So it doesn't absolutely have to happen. And once Armstrong signs someone, he'll have a better idea of how much space he needs to create. Maybe he can find someone he likes for $5 million, which is different from $8 million when it comes to opening up cap space. 
  • My take on Petro is he will sign with the Blues. In this Covid environment $8million for eight years....Take it Petro. Personally I think an eight year contarct for a 31 year old in any sport and hockey in particular is crazy.
  • $8 for eight seems to be the Pietrangelo deal that most are comfortable with. It's all the other variables that seem to be complicating things.
    And the Blues would gladly do a shorter deal. It stretches out to eight only so they can keep the annual average value down. If it was a five-year deal, the AAV would be a lot higher. 
  • I think that the reported $64 mil offer over 8 years for Petro is probably pretty close to what he would be able to get on the open market. Do you think that it's really the structure and not the money that may be holding up the deal? Would upping the offer potentially overcome those differences?
  • Seems that way to me. His contract value can't go much higher -- if he signs elsewhere a seven-year, $9 million AAV deal seems likely, which is about the same money-wise -- and while it's not loose change, it doesn't seem enough to deep six the deal. So that leaves bonuses and protections as the issues.
  • If the Blues can't get Petro signed, how likely who a sign and trade be for that team to get an eighth year on his deal? What kind of return could you expect out of a sign and trade? Also have you heard any interest of pursuing Laine in a trade?
  • I really don't know what a sign and trade deal would look like. Faulk was sort of a sign and trade, and the Blues gave up a mid-level defenseman in Joel Edmundson and a prospect taken with a late first-round pick. So could the Blues get a serviceable NHL player out of that deal? In any case, if it happens, I think it will happen very close to the deadline.
    Mr. Timmermann,

    I imagine the KHL team pays a salary to a player on loan, along with any insurance and other associated costs. Do the Blues pay any part of their contract with the players, or is the KHL pay instead of the Blues pay? If Kostin or Toropchenko spend the entire season in the K, does a year still come off of their Blues contract?
  • Gotta confess, I don't know the particulars on this. I would guess that they get housing costs picked up and a per diem from the KHL team, but their full salaries will come from the Blues when ever the 20-21 season begins. As for a season coming off their contract, I would think the only way they play a full KHL season is if there is no NHL season, in which case there are a whole bunch of other issues. With the way the Blues roster is set up, the Blues will need Kostin to come back to the States. 
    But keep in mind, I can be totally wrong about this. I haven't asked. 
Powered by Platform for Live Reporting, Events, and Social Engagement