Join Blues beat writer Matthew DeFranks for his live chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Join Blues beat writer Matthew DeFranks 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.

    The analytics on the Blues for the last two years have pointed to a team D and defensive weakness among the top 4 for at least two years. As you look at the team w fresh eyes do you see the same?
    It's a good question. The analytics certainly do say that, and it's tough for me to truly talk about the previous two seasons simply because I didn't see them every game. I will say that, regardless of the analytics, the Blues held a tough-to-play-against reputation around the league in the previous few seasons. Not so certain it's that way right now.
    Have you heard any talk around the league the Blues players were upset Army signed 25 and 18 to long term deals then didn't even attempt to resign Perron, a team favorite? There has been something wrong in the room, something wrong with O'Reilly, these guys won't play for each other and its been this way for some time.

    Thank you for your honesty, I can already see from your responses you won't be pulling your punches. Beware of Chief's left hook though.
  • I had not heard talk of that around the league, and not sure talk around the league would have given an accurate picture of the Blues dressing room, anyways.
    To me, signing Thomas and Kyrou to big extensions is simply part of the game. More and more GMs have signed young players still in their RFA years to big contracts. They understand that they're paying for more of their prime seasons when they sign them younger vs. the big payday coming at 27 years old. Maybe that sort of thinking skipped the 30-somethings, who signed their big contracts around UFA status, but it's the way it's going now.
    After this season Binnington has to name 10 teams he will accept a trade to in his contract. This is is first full season as an NHL goalie. He's played pretty well this year. His stick handling is what makes him better than many. Tough call to trade him but maybe he could bring back the number 1 D man we need?
    Binnington's puck-handling is what first jumped out at me when given the chance to watch him play every day. It should help the defense get out of the zone quicker, but we also saw what can happen when Binnington makes mistakes with the puck (Dec. 31 vs. Minnesota).
    The issue with trading Binnington is that you suddenly need to get a No. 1 goalie. He should be a piece to build around, I think, instead of a trade chip.
    Among the top players in the Blues D corps which players strike you as strong defensively? I realize a guy like Krug is expected to be more of an offensive D, but I’m trying to identify a player who’s very good in his own end.
    I don't mind Bortuzzo or Mikkola in their own end. The issue is they don't produce near enough offense to make the tradeoff and worthy one. But that's baked into the pie already when you put them on the ice, so they fill their role well enough, if you're not asking them to tote the puck up the ice or distribute it all around.
    Welcome to St Louis and the P-D Matthew! The P-D has a decades long tradition of outstanding sportswriting and we all hope you will embrace and embellish that!!

    Almost forgot: Thanks for jumping into the Thunderdome so quickly after you’re hire, that is this weekly chat. I can already tell you’re a knowledgeable hockey writer. Have fun with it!!
    Thank you, Arnold. Happy to be here.
    Matt, it seems to me Army took his eye off the ball since 2019 and forgot what made the Blues a cup winner, namely signing/drafting big d-men and forwards who employed a punishing forecheck. I still don't buy into the notion the league has changed into a young, fast, skill game. Once the playoffs begin the game resorts to old school hockey, namely strong defense and goaltending, like what the Blues had in April June 2019.
    This is a large cop-out, and I'm aware of this. But you need to be able to play both a skilled game and a forecheck game.
    Colorado did both, and so did Tampa. Even the Blues team in 2019 was underrated in terms of raw skill, with prime O'Reilly, Tarasenko and Pietrangelo, plus young guys like Thomas and Dunn. The team that I am always so interested in is Carolina. They play a punishing, dump and chase, forecheck style, but they've been so successful at it under Rod Brind'Amour. They're always fascinating to watch play.
    It's also easy to say "Oh, just find the players that can play both a skill and physical game." It doesn't even have to be physical, but just a willingness to enter battles in the corner, defend at the net-front and win pucks on the forecheck to disrupt breakouts.
    Those are tough players to find, and why winning is hard.
    Hey,Matt,I have a question about Ben Bishop: Did he retire from the Stars? Was it because of injuries or contract?
    His career is over, but Ben Bishop has not technically retired. He is unable to play anymore due to chronic knee injuries that actually began during the second round series between Dallas and St. Louis in 2019. Bishop has not retired because he is still under contract and retiring would mean he misses out on the salary he is owed this season.
    The Stars traded his contract to Buffalo so that Dallas didn't have to use LTIR anymore. Because he is technically part of the Sabres organization, Bishop was not allowed to join the Stars front office. The NHL ruled that he could work in development for the Stars while being paid by the Sabres.
    Hi Matt,

    Welcome to St. Louis. I'm of the impression that biggest issue with the Blues is that they lack assertiveness. To me this explains why when the AHLers come up, the team plays better or at least keep it close. Do you notice this as well? To me this is glaring, especially with Colton and Logan Brown.
    There is something to be said about hungry players coming up from the AHL. It's probably part of the reason why the fourth line of Alexey Toropchenko, Nikita Alexandrov and Tyler Pitlick worked so well. But, sadly, it's also part of the reason why production is generally lacking there. AHL players may give you an immediate boost of energy and effort, but the skill tends to lag behind.
    Hi Matt,
    I'll admit, I'm a pretty casual fan, but why didn't the Blues put their goalie back on the ice when they were on the Power Play last night? I get wanting 6 on 4, but it feels like 5 on 4 without an empty net (and the subsequent empty net goal) would have been the smarter play there. Especially only down 1 goal at the time. Would appreciate the insight! Welcome aboard!
    I understand both ways here, but given the 6 on 5 possession the Blues had before the penalty was called, it's reasonable to expect them to hang onto possession of the puck in a 6 on 4 situation. The bad news, and it really didn't come into play last night, was that Buffalo could ice the puck without punishment, which they couldn't do at even-strength.
    Robert Thomas made a poor puck play in the corner and it cost the Blues. I think the thought process from Craig Berube was good, just a bad result.
    I have consulted my oracle's and Army and Dubas already have a deal in place. I used my trusty pendulum and my Alissa Crowley deck of tarot cards. It's pretty big. ROR and Barbie to the Leafs for Number 1 pick, Knies, Kerfoot and Engvall.
    We don't even need the trade deadline anymore. Roy's telling us the future.
    Does anyone see that Tage Lemeuix beast out there last night and cry like me? Buffalo preferred Thomas or Kyrou at the time of the trade. Army declined. We will never find a player that skilled that big ever again!! He's generational! What a Greek or Roman tragedy for Blues fans and the organization.
    Is that trade this generation's Iginla for Nieuwendyk trade between Calgary and Dallas? The Stars got a Cup, the Flames got a Hall of Famer. Both teams were probably pleased with it.
    The Blues got their Cup with Ryan O'Reilly. The Sabres have a breakout star on their hands. 
    Heading into the season the expectation was that we would see a more consistent Binnington, he would rebound from a down year where he gave up the number 1 spot only to reclaim it in the playoffs. However, the team D has been so poor, it’s been declining every year since 2020, I’m not sure if he’s as mediocre as his save % suggests. Some adv stats suggest mediocrity but Clear Sight suggests better given high quality chances against. In your opinion is he a legit #1 of a playoff team or will Hofer give us an interesting story line next year?
    He hasn't been as good as the Blues need him to be this season, but he's probably still down the list of concerning items with this organization. Binnington has proven he can perform for a successful playoff team twice, and it's a fair expectation to expect him to be back to that with an improved defense.
    We still have to remember that Joel Hofer is 22 years old and is only in his first season as a professional starting goalie. There will be quite a learning curve for him before he eventually takes over as the No. 1 years down the line.
    Do the Blues go with another vet goalie on a 1 yr deal to backup Binnington for next year? Or do they bring up Hofer and let him get some NHL experience.
    Given the structure of Joel Hofer's contract, it seems like the backup job is his to lose next season. Hofer signed a two-year, one-way contract that pays him $775,000 whether he's in the NHL or the AHL. For comparison, Hofer makes $70,000 in the AHL right now.
    Great to have you here! While Dallas has had its share of great Stars teams, it has had lean years as well. With that perspective, how do you see the next few seasons shaping up for the Blues and, what realistic expectations should fans have.
  • I'll have a better idea of what the plan is after the trade deadline. The path towards immediate contender, or rebuilding franchise begins on March 3, or maybe even earlier. Until we know which type of seller Doug Armstrong wants to be, it's tough to know what kind of team will be on the ice the next few seasons.
    At least Thomas and Kyrou rushes will make it fun for fans.
    welcome to the beat and STL. I believe 55's prior bad back is acting up. He is a mountain of a many a very good skater. When I watch him on off games hi tradition skating and explosiveness is missing. He also looks stiff and too upright . A bulging or herniated disk always comes back. He should be on the third pairing so he can reduce minutes and maybe recover. Once Bortz and Scandella are back, he needs to rest for a few weeks. I believe something similar is wrong with 91- mind boggling he had 6-7 assists at the mid way apart just before his injury. something was not right with him. do you see the same things?
    Craig Berube said last night and reiterated today that Colton Parayko looked tentative last night and needs to be more assertive and more confident. Asked whether Parayko is fully healthy, Berube said he was. It's tough to speculate on injuries without truly knowing, but perhaps some lessened expectations and sheltered minutes could help Parayko get back to the player he's been before. At this point, the goal for the Blues should be to try and rehabilitate Parayko's game. They've got too much invested across the next seven seasons to punt on it.
    Welcome to STL, Matt!!! I think if the Blues play it right, they could retool, or a quick rebuild. I'd throw a lot at a possible 3 way where the Blues get Chychrun from AZ, and maybe Tarasenko going to Carolina (or Islanders). We gotta have a true #1 defenseman to build around.. Then everyone else slots in behind that guy.. Like we did with Alex P... Thoughts??
    I haven't thought of a three-team trade like you have here, but I've definitely thought about Chychryn. In theory, the Blues could acquire assets (say, two first-round picks) in trades for Tarasenko and O'Reilly, then flip them to Arizona for Chyrchrun. The Coyotes get their price. The Blues don't have to wait on a draft pick to develop in order to rebuild.
    There are two issues that have been brought to me. One, you need to make sure that Chychrun is an all-around No. 1 defenseman. He's always driven play with the Coyotes, and produced offensively, but if you're making a bet this large, the evaluation needs to be correct. Think about Chicago and Seth Jones. In his first season in Chicago, it was a common refrain around the league that he is simply not a No. 1 defenseman. If Chychrun is another No. 2 or 3, and you add him to the group of Parayko, Krug and Faulk, the problem could get worse instead of better.
    Two, Chychrun is only signed for two more seasons at $4.6 million. Ideally, you'd want to contend during the seasons in which your top players are underpaid. Will the Blues be that during those two seasons? And will St. Louis be able to re-sign him at the end of his contract, when he'll be a UFA? Worst case scenario, it's a large price to pay for a two-year rental on a non-contending team.
    Then there's the whole deal of working out a trade with Bill Armstrong and his deep knowledge of the Blues organization.
    Welcome Matt. What the hell do the Blues do with Parayko ? Mr. Dairy Queen. A big softie. After last night I have no clue
    The Blues need to find a way to get the best out of him. We'll see how it looks on this road trip, and if he continues to be on the third pair with different assignments.
    Logan Brown - your opinion. He seems not ready for primetime and needs to go to the AHL. He hasn't played enough this year for anyone to truly judge what he can do. Thanks for chat
    Logan Brown could be playing for his job in the next few weeks. The Blues have 22 players currently on the active roster, and will need two spots when Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan O'Reilly are healthy again. They only need to create one roster spot, and it could come down to Brown, Tyler Pitlick or Josh Leivo. Jake Neighbours is waivers exempt, but is hardly deserving of a trip to Springfield.
    Of course, these things tend to work themselves out as roster crunches are sometimes met with other injuries or transactions and such.
    i agree with your comment about needing a #1 defensemen. At one time a young Parayko was being billed as a future Norris Trophy winner. His reach was unreal and it always looked **** he was playing with a 15 foot stick. He played the man, was always in position and he looked so fundamentally sound. We don't have to mention his physical attributes. He wasn't a project as he was already on the 1st pairing.

    Then he got hurt and Petro left. Which hurt his progress more?
    Generally speaking, back injuries are no joke. I would have to believe it played a big part in Parayko's performance, but it's hard to say without knowing. Pietrangelo leaving was supposed to usher in the next era of Parayko's career, and it simply hasn't happened. You also wonder about Jay Bouwmeester's impact on Parayko.
    I just read The Hockey News' power rankings and the comment about the Blues was interesting, I would like your take on it. The last part of the last sentence reads "but the biggest headache (headcase?) remains in net." Does the NHL view Binnington as a head case? I could understand why if true.
  • There is absolutely the perception from outside that Jordan Binnington can be a distraction. There are enough examples of on-ice conflicts throughout the years, and that colors his reputation. It's also a tough situation because those situations only happen when he's playing poorly, so the antics shine a light on a rough game he's had.
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