If you would define the top pairing as the guy who plays alongside Parayko, which is what Blues management would want, then Mikkola is the young guy who can do that, and would be available to do that next year. If the top pairing is the one that includes Faulk, well, Krug did well there this season. Perunovich is an offensive-minded left-handed defenseman. The Blues have shown a willingness to play Faulk on his offside. In any case, I wouldn't get too married to any one combination. Players will be moved around.
Kyrou's isolated impact, factoring out his teammates and opponents, at hockeyviz.com, was +10 last season, the highest on the team. (Schwartz was next among regulars at +6.) His skills make a lot of things happen, and he can create his own scoring opportunities. He will learn moderation with time. But he also has to learn defense. He's in a situation not uncommon for players who have gotten by on their offense for their whole careers up to that point. His isolated defense was the worst on the team, and he lived a sheltered life, with fewer defensive zone starts that anybody else. I don't know that it's a question of bigger and stronger as much as being smarter about what he has to do.
Kostin is like Kyrou this season. His time has come, and if the Blues don't use him, then they need to get rid of him because he's past the point where another year in the minors will do him any good. His ice time will depend on where he ends up playing. If they decide to use him as a puck winner on a top two line, he'll get more time than that. On the third or fourth line, he'll get 12 or so minutes, depending on if he's logging any special team time.
Tarasenko will be the question mark, and alas waiting has become part of the equation. I think he will be better next season than he was last season. But how good will that be? I don't know. No one knows. He may not be a 30-goal scorer again. But a 25-goal scorer would be something the Blues could use. If he's scoring less than 20 goals, then that's not a good situation for the Blues.
More than that. Perron, O'Reilly, Schenn, Schwartz, Tarasenko, Dunn, Parayko, Binnington, Barbashev, Sanford, Sundqvist, Blais all played in Game 7 vs. Boston.
While he seems a logical player for the Kraken to seek, he has expressed a desire to stay in Washington. We'll see how that plays out. Coming back to St. Louis seems a lower option.
Kyrou is in his first full season and was one of the best players on the team. That gets you the benefit of the doubt. Thomas has drawn some criticism, including from his coach, but has also been bothered by injuries. So I'm not sure about how much benefit of the doubt he's getting, but he's also young enough that there's time to learn and he plays a key position. Dunn has had four full seasons in the NHL. He's at the point where you have expectations that have to be met.
Husso would cause the more complicated replacement, since the Blues would either have to go out and find another backup goalie or would have to promote an untested player from their system, a player who is likely a year away. Replacing the others wouldn't be terribly complicated. Dunn would be another case where his replacement would have some learning to do, but a case where the options are readily available.
Krug is more experienced, has been a better offensive player, and a player the Blues are more inclined to use in key defensive situations, though Dunn, at least this season, was better defensively. The Blues would use Krug on the PK if one of their regular penalty killers was in the box. Dunn they wouldn't. So there's clearly more faith in Krug. Krug had 30 assists this season, Dunn had 14 and maybe would have had 20 if he hadn't gotten hurt.
Selling high would have been trading him a couple years ago. I don't know that trading a guy who has barely played over the past two seasons meets that description. I think Tarasenko, assuming he's healthy, will be better next season. Demand for Tarasenko, especially considering his contract, won't be high. But if another is interested and makes an offer, I think the Blues have to look at it. Though Tarasenko does have a no-trade clause, so he has some say in the matter.
Nylander makes about $7 million, so you're talking a good amount of space. If the Blues didn't re-sign Schwartz and Hoffman, they could make that work. I guess the next question would be who the Blues have to give up to get him, and for that, I have no idea. Toronto's in no position to take on any bad contracts. I'm not exactly sure what the Maple Leafs are going to be looking for.
There's a lot to like about Dunn. Teams may feel that a change of scenery will serve him well, that the right situation and right pairing will accentuate his pluses while limiting his minuses. And he comes at a good price against the cap. If cap space is an issue, the point production you get from him in the $2-$3 million range could be desirable. The Blues have the advantage now of having guys who make even less waiting in the wings for a chance.
Hard for me to say in detail about other teams, but right now, for the Blues, it's pretty thin. There are only a few standouts down there and once you get past Kostin and Perunovich, who is still yet to play a game, no sure-fire NHLers. (I'm assuming that Mikkola and Walman aren't part of the farm system any more.) Trades of draft picks and prospects in recent years have taken away a lot of the depth.
I don't know that it's a slam dunk, but he could be one of the more experienced goalies out there, and he'll be 31 at the start of next season. Dallas will have to expose a goalie.
The Blues and Edmundson had different opinions on his value to the team. That was the problem. (And Carolina let him walk too.) Pietrangelo didn't leave because of dollars, at least not for the most part. He left because he wanted a no-movement clause and the Blues wouldn't give it to him. The dollars ultimately weren't that different. You're going to get way more offensive production out of Faulk or Krug than out of Edmundson. So I don't know that it's that confusing. The Blues would be better if they could have found a way to keep Pietrangelo. I don't know that the same applies to keeping Edmundson. Faulk is a better player. And let's not forget that the Blues, in the regular season, had a better record than Montreal. Granted, the Canadiens are still playing and the Blues aren't.
Lots of Tkachuk family questions today. Matthew and Brady will both come at a high price, both in dollars and in terms of players since neither is a UFA for a while. You're looking at trading multiple young players off the NHL roster, plus a draft pick or two, plus finding room under the cap. And while either Tkachuk would advocate a trade to St. Louis, the Flames or Senators could care less about that and would be looking for the deal that best suits them going forward. So it's going to take a lot to make that happen.
Brady had a +20% offensive isolated impact at hockeyviz.com this season, Matthew +12%. You'd get more bang for your buck from Brady, but he's going to cost a lot more to get.
I'd expect to see some movement this summer around the league because expansion will start the ball rolling and things will happen. I don't see the Blues stopping being a team that goes to the cap. I can easily see Armstrong making a move to give a jolt to the team, and the question that goes along with that is does making a move like not re-signing Schwartz do that as well? How integral is he to the team? If the Blues don't re-sign Schwartz, then they'll have some free-agent dollars to work with. If they do re-sign him, then there won't be as much space and a trade becomes the big possiblity.
Hard to say for sure with a busy offseason in the cards, but when they go back to the standard divisions next season -- with Arizona moving to the Central and Seattle joining the Pacific -- some of those Canadian teams that made the playoffs this season may not be making it next season. And the Blues won't be a gimme in a Central that includes Colorado, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Nashville, all of which finished with more points than the Blues this season. Though we will be back in a situation with wild cards and fifth-place teams possibly making the postseason.
I think it falls into groups. There's a big name group, like Schwartz or Tarasenko, where one or the other could be gone, but both could stay. There's a pile of young, tradeable players, like Dunn, Sanford, Blais, Barbashev, MacEachern, or even Thomas, where one or two probably won't be back but the rest will, and a departing free agent group, like Hoffman, Gunnarsson and Bozak, where most or all won't be back. Specifics will depend on who another team is interested in and who gets you the best return.
I'd say overall, Tampa Bay is a team with more talent than the Blues. (Heck, with their cap hijinks, maybe more than any team in the league.) The Blues need more than one guy to go to the net. Maybe Maroon would inspire that. I don't think he would make the difference though.
That's a role the Blues certainly want for him, going to the net more. (As Jori Lehtera once said, if you want pizza, you go to Pizza Hut; if you want goals, you go to the net.) And it would probably be easier on his shoulder.
Hard to say. This will be a tough draft because so much of the players in juniors didn't play last season. There wasn't as much scouting to do. So this will be more of a crap shoot this season. I think the philosophy will be the same, since the guy who will be in charge, Tony Feltrin, with help from Dan Ginnell, have been around the team a long time.
Really hard to say since we haven't been around the team this season because of the COVID rules, but I feel safe in saying that the overall chemistry isn't as solid as it was before, just because the new guys have been separate from the team. Mike Hoffman saw these guys in the locker room and on the plane and for much of the season, that was it. It was very hard to integrate new guys. So the chemistry that was there before can't be there now. Next year I would expect to be better.
That's a name that has come up a lot over the years on wish lists. He won't come cheap, and he's coming off a really solid year. He would be a fit on any team.
OK, the clock is about to strike 4, when the chat turns into a pumpkin. Apologies again for the questions I didn't get to. (The shorter the question, by the way, the more likely I am to answer it, since I can read it faster and keep the chat moving.) Until next week, see you, and remember Gordo is around on Friday to answer more questions. Otherwise, he's bogged down with Cardinals questions. Save him from that.