Join Blues beat writer Tom Timmermann for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Join Blues beat writer Tom Timmermann for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Get your questions ready and join in at 1 p.m. Wednesday for our weekly Blues chat.

    Greetings one and all and welcome. I wasn't supposed to be here today, but something came up that deprived you of Jim's presence today and left you with me. Not that that's a bad thing. At least I hope. Anyway, things are happening! People are skating! Practices are being held, mostly involving players you won't see this season in person unless you live in an AHL market. But it's a start. Let's get on to the chat.
    Any news on if Robert Thomas is going to sign? WIth the Bozak signing, we have even less money available to get Thomas' contract wrapped up.
    Prior to the start of the development camp sessions today, Blues players and other locals -- we think that was Logan Brown out there -- were skating at Centene. Robert Thomas was on the ice. So that tells me that he's expecting to be in camp. He's got a week to get a deal done. As Armstrong said last time I asked him about how things were going, he said, as he has before, All it takes is one phone call. So he's going to sign.
    Happy hump day Tom. THANK YOU for today’s chat.

    How much cap room is now left to sign Robert Thomas? Looks to me Thomas will be packaged with Vladi in a trade, or am I seeing things?
    I think you're seeing things. If Sundqvist starts the season on LTIR, which the Bozak signing seems to indicate is likely to happen, the Blues would have $3.5 million to work with. That should be enough, though they would have to deal with the issue a little down the road. But it buys them time to trade Tarasenko, and once they do that, your problems are solved. If the Blues need to throw in Thomas as a sweetener for a Tarasenko deal, that seems an awfully big ask by the other team. If you trade Thomas, you've got to get something significant back.
    Thanks for filling in today. You guys make a great team...1A and 1B. (Won't say which is which.) I know team/league marketing is not your specialty, but this is interesting and I wanted to get your thoughts on the new Winter Classic Jersey. There were only jerseys made available with names and numbers of 4 Blues players: O'Reilly, Parayko, Binnington, and TARASENKO. Why in the world would they include #91 in their limited supply of players jerseys? First off, he may not still be on the team once the season starts, much less by the time the game takes place. Secondly, there has been so much negative press surrounding his status with the team, I can't imagine his jerseys would sell more than say #57 or #10. Your thoughts?
    I had not seen that and it does seem odd. Maybe it was to placate the foreign market? Help them sell the jersey in Russia, more than a Buchnevich or Kostin name on the back would? Or maybe it's a sign. I remember on what turned out to be the final regular season game with T.J. Oshie on the Blues, the special sale item they were selling in the Blues store at Enterprise, at a big discount, was a T.J. Oshie jersey! There's also some computer algorithm that sends me ads, and one of them keeps showing me discounted Tarasenko/Blues jerseys. But who knows? At that same skate that Robert Thomas was taking part in today, Tarasenko was on the ice as well. Camp is a week away, and with every day that passes, there's a better chance that he'll be there.
    Are you surprised about Bozak? You thought all he would get was a PTO but rumors say he took less money to stay in STL
    A little surprised, but events out of our vision often drive things. If the Blues found that Sundqvist might miss the first two months rather than just the first month, that would change their feeling about how to address that. Certainly the demand was not high for a 35-year-old center coming off a third concussion. If he got other offers, they presumably weren't for more than one year, nor for a lot more money. How much was it worth to Bozak to stay in St. Louis rather than uproot his family for one season? Probably a non-zero sum. If he did turn down other offers, they likely weren't for a lot more. It's not like he signed for half off. I've always thought $1 million would have been the amount he would get if he re-signed with the Blues, or landed elsewhere. He's a dependable addition and is respected in the room. When everybody's healthy, not sure where he'll play.
    Hi Mr. Timmermann,
    Thanks for taking the time to chat once again.
    Buffalo and Ottawa both need to spend just to get to the cap floor. Tarasenko says he wants out of the 314. It looks like a match to me. Does he want out badly enough to go to one of those moribund franchises?
    That would be the question, since he would have to approve any trade. So far, those teams haven't made moves to acquire him, and the next question would be what they want from the Blues in return for taking on his contract. If I were Armstrong, I would be very reluctant to include any player who I thought would contribute in the deal. Are those teams content with draft picks? Ottawa already has six in the first three rounds next year, and a Blues draft pick is likely to be in the back half of the first round. How much money would the Blues have to retain? In any case, those teams only need to add $3 million more in salary to hit the floor. So there are also cheaper ways to do it than add Tarasenko and his $7.5 million.
    Any truth to the rumors that Thomas' camp was irked about the deal they were offered vs the one Kyrou signed
  • I do not know for certain, but it wouldn't surprise me. Thomas would be thinking, "hey, I've played three seasons in the NHL ,won a Stanley Cup, I'm only 22 and I've got years and potential ahead of me." And the Blues would be saying, "Kyrou has done more." Thomas is, in many ways, still offering more potential than performance. He very well could be a top six center, making slick passes to his linemates. As of now, he's not. Kyrou, at the moment, is more likely to be on one of the top two lines than Thomas is, though at some point, the Blues have to make the decision to give him a chance there, and then Thomas has to not get hurt. Kyrou will have an AAV of $2.8 million next year. That's about the territory I would expect Thomas to land in right now in any case.
    Though in looking at some numbers, Thomas was not as good as Kyrou offensively last season but way better on defense. Kyrou, though, had some pretty excellent detailed numbers, ranking among the highest in the league in successful (and unsuccessful) dekes. Kyrou is an exciting player with a very solid upside. I think the futures market on Kyrou may be higher than it is on Thomas at the moment.
    Much has been made about #91 being a "distraction" or a cancer in the locker room. However, it seems Berube and Armstrong have strongly indicated they plan on Tarasenko still being on the team, and also have indicated it will be in a similar role...i.e. still wearing the "A"??? My question to you as far as wearing an "A", would anything be different outside the locker room if he had an "A" this year? My impression is he was hardly ever available for media interviews in previous seasons, which is one of the unwritten roles of captains and alternate captains. So, if he somehow clears the air with his teammates and Blues staff members, I could see him not being a distraction or cancer and doing well with the team (IF healthy). He's rarely been exposed to challenging questions with the media before, and probable won't be again this year.
    Tarasenko has never been one to make himself easily available to the media. We didn't see him too much on Zoom last season, though he played only 24 games so his chances were limited. The year before, back when we could go in the room after games and talk to people in person, he was better at coming out and talking after bad losses, when the captains are usually who you would get. But he didn't do it as often as O'Reilly or Schenn or Parayko. Would anything be different outside the room if he wore an A? Given all the circumstances, I'm sure the Blues would just as soon not have Tarasenko serving as a spokesman for the team. He personally might not be a distraction, but his presence will cause a distraction, as everyone wonders when he's going to leave. And he's going to have to address the media at some point because otherwise the topic is going to overwhelm everything else.
    I’ve got my Winter Classic tickets. Are you or JT going to Minny? If you go check out Tom Reid’s bar. He’s a former North Star and it’s a great hockey bar. Just blocks from Xcel Energy Center.
    Tom Reid's is the unofficial hangout for Blues media and Blues staff when in St. Paul. I have had the walleye many a night at Tom Reid's, and often Tom comes over to say hi and join us. (He's a very active participant in the restaurant's operation.) I can't think of a trip to Minnesota which hasn't included a stop there. Jim is definitely going to the game; whether or not we have  more than one person remains to be seen.
    The Florida Panthers signed a college QB to a contract to promote the team on different platforms or at different activities or during game nights at the game. I think it’s part of the NCAA letting college athletes make money. As you can tell I’m not up to speed on how it all works but my question is…to your knowledge are the Blues interested in something like that.
    I don't know that that would help with the Blues. Who would they get that would make people care? In a place like Florida, where college football is big and hockey isn't, that might drive attention. But I don't know that having Chase Daniel promoting the team would make a dent.
    Do you have any insight, or even a prediction in terms of what the Blues will or should do with DP57 since this is his last contract year? Offer a new contract sooner or later? If so, term and salary?
    The only team that Perron has ever signed a contract with is the Blues. All those other teams he got traded to or drafted by, but when the time came for the next contract, it was back to the Blues, like the swallows returning to Capistrano. So with that in mind, there's probably no rush to sign him, and at his age, it's probably in the Blues' best interest to wait because Perron is somewhat defying age and it can't go on forever, right? But, assuming this season looks like last season, he would probably get a two-year deal for not more than his current $4 million annually. A raise would seem unlikely.
    With the no crossing of the border last season do you know how it was determined which officials worked games only in the US and only in Canada? I get it that some live in Canada and some in the US but I’m sure it’s not a 50/50 split.
    I don't know how it ended up, but the plan was to have a specific group of referees that would handle only North Division games, with the potential for other refs to rotate in if needed after serving the quarantine. How they chose them, I'm not sure, whether they went by seniority or made allocations for people with extenuating circumstances (like young children). Looking at the roster of NHL refs for this season, 33 are from Canada and 10 from the United States, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's where they live today. Some referees, like Tim Peel, relocated to the United States from Canada to make their lives easier when it comes to travel, and most now live near big cities because being an NHL ref and living in New Brunswick or North Dakota would be a pain.
    I don’t understand why Balzac would take 100,000 less money and a fourth round draft pick seems like he got ripped off to me
  • Honore de Balzac was a 19th-century French novelist and playwright. I don't believe any draft picks were connected to his work. If you have something else in mind, you'll need to clarify.
    We've got a lull in the questions at the moment -- everyone is apparently gearing up for the start of camp next week -- so if you've got something, here's your chance.
    Any chance the games or highlights of the games in Michigan will appear on TV?
    I thought I saw somewhere that there would be a live stream of the games, though in looking at the event's website right now, I don't see any mention of it. Feel free to hunt around at Jim leaves for there tomorrow, so I'll see if he's heard anything.

    Press Release

    Centre Ice Arena
    By the way, the Blues final training session for Traverse City is Thursday at 10 a.m. at Centene. It's just one session rather than two, and there will probably be a scrimmage of some sort, or at least some 5 v. 5 work, which figures to be more entertaining and revealing than watching them do the drills they've done so far. Admission is free, but also note that today, they were asking for proof of vaccination before letting people in, so be prepared for that.
    Are there any league restrictions in place between Phoenix and the Blues trading with each other due to hiring Armstrong? Secondly, lets say Phoenix takes on Tarasenkos contract via trade. Would that potentially look bad among the press or thr league, as in Armstrong doing the Blues a favor?
    No. The Blues asked for restrictions on Bill Armstrong being involved in the Coyotes' draft a year ago, because of what was considered proprietary work he had done for the Blues. But now, he's free to do what he wants. The Coyotes have taken on so many other bad contracts that taking on one more wouldn't cause any concern, though I think the Blues would be apprehensive about trading Tarasenko within the division and seeing him four times this season.
    Do you know if Bally will send Bernie, etc. to the away games. The Cardinals broadcasts are really lacking being from the studio - thanks for the chat
    I have heard that there was a plan to have Kelly and Pang travel to road games, but the rest of the production staff would stay in St. Louis and work out of their studio here. But everything is subject to change. Certainly the baseball broadcasts have suffered.
  • I haven't read anything lately about Barclay "the wonder dog", will he be ready for training camp?
    Last I saw, which was a month or so ago, he looked ready to go.
    On the Bozak signing: If Tarasenko gets traded, could Bozzy get a raise? Is there a possible understanding they have, or is your earlier comment that $750k is a good price for him? He can help this team in so many ways, 35 or not.
    He can not get a raise. NHL contracts can not be renegotiated. Tarasenko's absence would probably make it easier for Bozak to hit some of his bonus qualifications, like for games played, which could get him closer to $2 million. $750,000 is a great price for him, from the Blues point of view, considering it's the league minimum and they can't pay him any less. I don't know that he can help them a whole lot on offense. Looking at some analytics, MacEachern was better on both sides of the puck than Bozak was last season. (Though obviously not as good on faceoffs.)
    Lot made of the Bozak signing and a lot of people, including myself were glad they did - know you haven't had access to the locker room but how much did the locker room presence have in trying to close a deal in your opinion
    Bozak is a steadying influence in the room, an experienced player who knows his way around and has helped steer some young players through their early days in the league. Those are all pluses, but he's also got to bring things on the ice to be worth the investment. At price, he's worth the risk, though at some point, you get to the question of whether it would be better to give some younger players a chance for some ice time. If Bozak didn't have the history he had with the Blues, they wouldn't have made the deal with him.
    Mr. Timmermann,

    Which player from last year's team that is no longer with the team will be missed the most on the ice? I think it's Jaden Schwartz, and not even close. When he was on his game, I felt like he could be the team's engine. Was it a mistake letting him go for the price he signed at? Is he worth the million more AAV than Saad is, who seems to me to be his replacement of sorts?
    Assuming Schwartz was fully healthy, he would be missed the most. Berube called him the engine that drove the team. His persistence on winning pucks was a big help to the team, and whether Saad or Buchnevich can replace that remains to be seen. Schwartz's health made it so hard to put a price on him. If he had played 80 games a season over the past five years, he would have been worth every penny of that. But he missed a bunch of games, so it muddied the waters. And with everything that has gone on with Schwartz, a new home and a fresh start might energize him. Dunn will be missed a lot too though, unless Mikkola or Walman make people forget him.
    you brought up Bozak on faceoffs. How can the other centers improve in this area since it is so important?
    It's been said that the people who win the most faceoffs are really good at cheating, though the NHL has taken steps to try to minimize that. But experience is a big factor. It comes with time and faceoffs taken. (Though, from a statistical standpoint, if you've been in the league four or five years and can't consistently win faceoffs, you will very quickly stop taking faceoffs.) And it's why after many practices, you'll find Steve Ott on the ice dropping pucks for forwards to work on faceoffs. For Thomas to be a two-way center, who the Blues are comfortable taking faceoffs in the defensive end, he's going to have to get better at them. Analytics say faceoffs don't make that big of a difference, that they don't have a noticeable correlation to winning or losing, but maybe once or twice a game, a faceoff will come along where winning or losing that faceoff will make the difference in scoring a goal.
    Bozak it changed the spelling once I submitted it
    So if you're asking about Bozak taking less than he might have been offered somewhere else, Bozak has three kids, so signing somewhere else for $100,000 more if it meant either packing up the house and moving or pulling his kids out of school or spending a year living in another city apart from his children, it probably isn't worth it. Bozak's estimated career earnings, per are $39,834,400, so if he passed on $100,000, well, that's a pretty miniscule drop in his total wages.
    Last call for questions before I start writing about the day at prospects camp.
    What is the latest on Vladi?
    He's still a Blue and skated with about 15 other players this morning at Centene. Right now, nothing new to report.
    The first 12,000 fans at the Dec. 7 game will get a Ryan O'Reilly bobblehead,
    So look for Jim writing from Traverse City over the weekend, a Net Front Presence podcast hitting the website on Friday, and then it will be all hands on deck for training camp starting next week. Still haven't see the details yet on camp schedules, though I would expect that to be coming soon. (It better, because it's not that far away.) We may have to juggle the time on the chat the next few weeks since the early days of training camp often go long; whether that affects next week is too soon to say. Be assured we'll keep you apprised. 
    Thanks again for your attendance and, probably no later than Thursday, the Blues will be on the ice here in town and hockey will be back. Till then, take care. 
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