The benches have not been expanded. In places where it's not already done, you could move the other goalie off and create some space, but these guys are around each other so much I doubt that would help much. And I would expect that any licking this season will be strongly frowned on by the league. How contact tracing plays out will be another matter. A safer assumption is that if one person gets it, a lot will get it .The Stars had 17 positive cases. Once we have a team with just one positive test, we'll have an idea of how the contact tracing will effect things.
The main thing he needs is roster space. The Blues will have to make salary cap space once Tarasenko is ready to comeback, and one possible scenario we could see is that if injuries create a need for a defenseman elsewhere, the Blues will trade Gunnarsson, a competent veteran defenseman who could help somebody out (though his defensive numbers dropped last season). Right now, Walman has got Gunnarsson and Mikkola ahead of him, and Perunovich is coming up fast. If Walman doesn't get a chance for a look this season, his window of opportunity might have passed. Berube has said a lot of defensemen will play this season.
The absence of Steen and Pietrangelo from the PK will mean some changes. With those two gone, it's hard to see it taking a step up, at least at the start, because it has a lot of ground to cover. With all the games within the division this seasons, units will really get to know each other. The Blues' PK could face the Avs PP 40 times this season. The Blues can still put a pretty good group out there, with Parayko and Sundqvist and Scandella, but some guys will be learning.
The Blues have confidence in Husso -- he's had some preseason games where he looked great -- but they also couldn't afford more. That was one more thing in the plus column for Husso: He wasn't going to cost much and a goalie who earned more, we now know, could have priced them out of the Hoffman market, or forced another move. As Armstrong told me for the Husso story that ran today, how Husso does will be a big factor for the team. Other than, as fate would have it, his 2018-19 season, Husso's AHL numbers have been pretty good.
The Blues aren't really a team of "stars." They're a team of really good players who play their roles well in a framework that suits them. I think O'Reilly was about 30 in that NHL Network ranking. Pietrangelo and Tarasenko are the types of Blues players you would expect to see in that kind of ranking, but one is gone and the other is hurt. Schenn, Schwartz, Krug, Parayko don't have quite the same buzz. Other than Pietrangelo, who I think was fourth in the Norris last season, Blues players don't move the needle much.
Kyrou and Faulk, at very different points in their careers, have the most to prove. Kyrou needs to show he can play every game, and it looks like he'll get the chance. Faulk didn't play up to his expectations (or his salary) last season, and could be left unprotected for Seattle in the expansion draft, if he doesn't return to his Carolina level of play this season. A better defined role this season should help, though if he's not on the power play and is being used in a shutdown role, his chances for goals will decrease.
Haven't heard any change in the plan, so I would expect by the end of January, middle of February, he'll be getting close. Original assessment was five months till re-evaluation.
Sorry, brief wifi issue there
Walman could be in a bind, if Perunovich develops quickly and jumps him in line. Berube has implied he'll get a chance to play this season, though if the top group does well and stays healthy, the chances for him to do that might be limited. Defenseman is one place the Blues have an abundance of quality of players. Among Mikkola, Perunovich and Walman, if the Blues were to trade one, Walman would be the first choice, I would think, but he might not be the first choice on the other end. The Blues will have one defense spot open after this season when Gunnarsson moves on, and pretty likely two since a defenseman could go in the expansion draft. If Mikkola and Perunovich move in, Walman could still be the eighth guy.
If he does re-sign, yes, it will be for less, probably in the $2 million range. The Blues like him as a teacher; they keep putting promising young guys on his lines to help them develop. Thomas benefitted from that. Now they're hoping Kyrou does. Right now, the Blues are playing Schenn on the wing rather than at center. If there was a desire to move him back to center and keep him there, it would reduce the need for Bozak. A desire to use Barbashev or Sundqvist as something other than a fourth-line player could also reduce that need to have Bozak return.
Clifford, Barbashev and Sundqvist
Berube said the main focus was on establishing the team's identity. He felt with the short camp, he could cast a wide net and be good at a lot of things, but he would rather have them be great at one thing, and he chose identity, so he stressed that in their limited time.
No, the Blues have about 20 people in their ownership group. Unless he's added parts from others, I don't believe Stillman has even 50 percent. But he has more than anybody.
They'd be close, but you can't say that until you see how the defense works out minus Pietrangelo. As I've said before, a lot of components haven't to come into play to replace him. That can be done, but it's not a given. And even if Tarasenko returns healthy, I don't know that he's back at the top of his game this season. He's got a ways to go.
We're allowed at practices and morning skates this season, which we weren't in the restart last season. So there will be more eyes on the team that way. In the bubble, we had no way of knowing who was practicing and who wasn't. All interviews are still being done, by Zoom most of the time. There's no locker room access, which is understandable under the circumstances but really limited what you could do in training camp where there may well be interesting stories out there but if you can't talk to Sam Anas or Jake Neighbours or Tyler Tucker, it was really hard to pursue them. Jim and I will be flying commercial to games; the length of stays are about the same, sometimes short trips, sometimes long trips, and in some ways are easier since we'll be doing to a city and staying there for three days, which seldom happened in years past. After today's morning skate, Berube and two players, O'Reilly and Schenn, appeared on Zoom. There likely will be three players provided postgame. There are no road quarantines, unless particular regions require it. The Blues radio and TV crews are doing all the games from St. Louis.
Nope, pretty much the same. Staying after practice a lot, working on drills. If there's any change, it's likely out of our line of sight, in the dressing room. On ice, neither success or letters or anything else will change O'Reilly from his dedication to getting better.
I think now that they're started, they're committed to seeing this thing through and, now that they've started, that may reduce the amount that some owners would save by not playing, so they might as well go ahead and play the thing. I suppose a massive outbreak could cause the league to a break, but we're dealing with a finite number of players, so as long as no one is getting extremely ill, they would be able to restart at some point. Bettman talked to reporters on Monday and stressed that flexibility and adaptability will be keys to this season. Things will happen. Schedules will be changed. Be prepared for it. The league just hopes to avoid a worst-case scenario.
Haven't gotten definitive word on that yet. Would expect that somebody will go to Utica to supervise and keep tabs on the players there. Someone could come to St. Louis to work with the taxi squad guys. But the team hasn't said anything about that yet. One would think they wouldn't want to put Bannister on the market for someone else to hire.