Here we go again. Already some questions lined up and waiting. I may have to step away briefly around 3 to do some interviews for a story, but we'll see how that plays out. In any case, time to jump in to the pool.
By having Vegas and Colorado lose their top players in free agency? It won't be easy to match them otherwise, though the Blues, even in the Stanley Cup season, didn't really have great players. They had really good players who were all at the top of their games that season. You can only sign so many high-end free agents, and it only takes one of them not panning out to throw a wrench in the whole process. The simplest way is to have some very good drafts with young cost-contained players. Right now, that's tough for the Blues because they have traded away so many draft picks and prospects recently.
There are times when a player wants to move on, to get a change of scenery, and it seems like that was the case with Schwartz. It also helped that the Blues didn't seem to make a compelling case for him to stay. Would he have stayed if the Blues had offered him more money? Probably. Would that have been the smart thing for the Blues to do? Probably not. As a player, he brought all sorts of valuable things to the team. When you have to put a price tag on that, that was an issue. Berube loved him, but with the team having had an off season and changes needing to be made, giving him a raise wasn't going to be easy.
Maybe put him on the power play, but I don't know about the top six. If Tarasenko is somehow on the roster at the start of the season, it's hard to see him being there the whole season. So if that's the case, putting him on the third line allows the Blues to start building those top two lines that will be there the whole season. Now, if someone gets hurt and you need someone, Tarasenko fits in there well. But otherwise, there are enough other guys to fit in the top six. The power play is a different matter, and he has definite advantages there and Saad, for instance, is not a good power-play guy. So he's a lot easier to fit in on the power play.
They definitely missed Pietrangelo. Any team would miss Pietrangelo. Certainly Bouwmeester's steadiness was an asset, though as well as he played, he was only getting older and at some point there were going to be diminishing returns. I said going into last season there were going to be three key things for the defense: Parayko upping his game, Faulk improving and Krug fitting in. By the end of the season, the final two had happened, but Parayko never really got his game going because of injury. (It didn't help that Scandella's game dropped off too.) But, and I'll say this again, it's not just the defensemen. The forwards have to play D too. The Blues need that unit to be better. Buchnevich will help there.
His father died right before the start of last season
Well, if that's your determining factor, you soon may not have any sports to root for because they are inevitable in other sports.
Haven't seen an official date, but their first preseason game is Sept. 25 and they usually have their first game three days into camp, so the 22nd, or maybe a day before, is a good bet.
The last update we got from Armstrong said Parayko was doing fine and that he didn't need surgery to address his back issue. A healthier Parayko would certainly be a big step, as would 2018-19 Parayko. His past two seasons haven't been as good as that one. As for the power play, Krug will get one spot, and we'll have to see if Berube goes with Parayko or Faulk on the second unit. Parayko is probably first in line.
I suppose if you had two essentially equivalent offers it would be an issue, but it would probably take second or third place to what the team's Cup potential was and what the playing time would be like. Some players may look at a team with a John Tortorella type and say, no thanks, but in general, a coach who is disliked is usually with a good team, because if he's not getting results, that act doesn't play very well and the GM will move on.
If it were worse than he was letting on, then Armstrong should have gone out and gotten some help on defense for this season, which he hasn't done. So he's either confident it's well or oblivious to reality, and the latter seems unlikely.
Jersey ads arrive next season, 2022-23. They are supposed to be discrete.
I don't see those as being related. I don't think the Blues feel they have a place for Bozak, or that it's worth it to give him ice time at the expense of one of their younger (and cheaper) players. Jobs are hard to find for 35-year-olds like Bozak. He could be in the situation Troy Brouwer was in a few years ago, staying in shape, waiting for a team to have a need for someone like him. If he goes to any camp, it seems like it would be on a PTO.
Second through fifth in the Central will be fairly tight, and the Blues can fall into any of those spots. I see them finishing on the upper end of that spectrum, which would put them in the playoffs. When a race is that close, injuries will play a factor. A key injury for one team, or the lack of key injuries, can swing things. If the Blues have injuries like they did last season, they could be in trouble.
Pietrangelo is probably the next candidate, and that's obviously many, many years down the line and the decision will be impacted by his leaving for Vegas. If he had stayed with the Blues and finished his career there, he would be a lock. As for how many are too many, the Maple Leafs have 13 retired numbers and the Canadiens have 15, so I don't think there's a limit, though those franchises have obviously had a lot more great players. The Blues would have retired No. 7 before if they could have decided on who to do it in honor of, since there are several worthy candidates there. A Blues Hall of Fame, like the Cardinals have, is always a possibility, where you could honor players without retiring their number.
If the Blues are getting bad advice from their medical staff, that is a big issue. Tarasenko's problem was that he felt his surgery didn't work well, which is a different issue from saying he didn't need surgery. And you can get multiple opinions on something like Parayko's back, but you can only have one person do shoulder surgery.
I'm not totally sure how good a regular-season team they are at the moment, so it's tough to say how they'll be in the playoffs. Their biggest problem is that right now, they are not a better team than Colorado, either in the playoffs or regular season, and any playoff run goes through Denver. Though in a short series, anything is possible.
The NHL is at 32 teams, which is a pretty good number. Four divisions of eight (or eight divisions of four if you wanted), and you don't have one team sitting around idly. The league does love that hefty expansion check they get, and if someone was going to give them $700 million, that would certainly get their attention. But I think they'll hold fast for a while, especially as they try to bring pressure for a new arena in Phoenix. Best way to do that is with the risk of moving, so it's good to have some available markets to hold as threats.
Hmm. I think for that to happen, Tarasenko would have to invalidate his current contract and become a free agent. And his new contract would be worth a lot less than the $15 million he's got coming over the next two years. So he'd be giving up a lot, especially if his shoulder doesn't hold up.