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.

    I don't believe that's in the protocols in place for this season. We'll find out soon enough since there's a game on Saturday.
    Speaking of Colt 55's contract, in your experience have your ever heard of a gentleman's agreement between an player and his agent and the GM where the team agrees to add money to a contract if a player achieves certain things not in the original contract? For example, Colton takes the $6 mil because of his last two years but wants more if he starts averaging 20+ minutes a game? Is this realistic? I am not describing performance bonuses.
    That would not be allowed in the current NHL and doing that would be circumventing the salary cap, which would get you in a whole bunch of trouble if someone found out. If a player wanted to be rewarded for playing more games, he would have to agree to a shorter contract so his next contract could reflect his improved play. Not sure what the team would gain out of doing what you suggest.
    Performance bonuses, by the way, are allowed only in entry level contracts and contracts signed by players 35 or over. 
  • This is obviously a moot point if Tarasenko is still here mucking up the salary cap ... but suppose Perunovich dominates in the AHL and Matthew Tkachuk continues sparring with the Flames over his future. When identifying the player package needed to send Matthew here, would the Flames prefer Walman or Scandella for their D? And what would we have to add to Kostin and our Dman to entice the Flames to send Matthew home?
    Any deal for a player like Tkachuk, either one of them, is going to start with another top six forward, and a young one at that. You're not getting one of those players on the cheap or with a collection of prospects and fringe guys. The Flamers are going to want a proven NHL player, probably one who is still cost-contained or has some years to go on his contract.
    Who stood out at Traverse City?
    Perunovich was the clear star, Joshua showed well, Alexandrov did well and I thought Colten Ellis looked very good in his game in goal. Hofer looked good in his first game, not quite as good in the second, though that game was a bit of a shooting gallery.
    What's going to be the Blues identity this year? Are they small and fast because i dont see any ruggedness.
    I think the Blues are looking for the same identity as before, aggressive, hard on the forecheck, creating offensive zone time, grinding teams down. Buchnevich is 6-3, Saad is 6-1 or 6-2, depending on where you look. Dunn and Schwartz were two of the shorter players on the team, so the Blues certainly aren't a shorter team.
    Husso will have to be a big part of this team if we are to have a successful 2021-22 season, especially with the compressed schedule and back to back games. Do you think he's up to the task or will the Blues be shopping for another backup goalie in the next few months? How many games do you think Husso (or the new backup) will play? I'm at like 25-30 games.
    I'd say 20 to 25, though so many factors could come into play on that. Assuming Binnington isn't on the Canadian Olympic team, he's going to get a three-week break midseason, so that will keep him fresh and the Blues have shown they are content with playing him a lot. Husso showed at the end of last season that his game was progressing, and if he can put that aggravating habit of giving up a goal on an early shot, that will help a lot. I don't see the Blues hitting the market for a backup. Unless the wheels come off Husso in the first couple weeks, Joel Hofer in Springfield will get the call up. He didn't get a lot of work last season because of the circumstances and can use a bit more work, but he's getting close to being ready. Which is something else that will push Husso this season. Hofer and Ellis are not far behind. And in Husso's defense, I've seen him play some exceptional games in preseasons past. He just has to consistently do them in the regular season now.
    Tom last year before the season I asked the question (honestly forget if to you or JT) if Robert Thomas was going to get top six minutes. The response was “absolutely “ he is counted on for that. He failed to have that type of season. It seems Kyrou has passed him by. Other than staying healthy what do the Blues want to see out of him to make significant improvement in his career? The young man is still only 22 and seems to possess a world of talent. Thanks and I look forward to your comment.
  • I think Thomas actually did OK last season, but obviously not well enough to make the kind of splash the team is expecting. If he's going to be a top two-way center, he's going to have to be better on faceoffs. Right now, he's not on the ice at the end of close games because of his faceoff troubles. But that's only a small part of it. He needs to shoot more, which will make his passing better, since right now, teams don't have to think about defending his shot, since he always passes. That probably translates into being a more all-around offensive player. He can make some sweet passes with the puck.
    But some of it is also situational. The Blues have O'Reilly and Schenn as their top two centers. If Thomas is the No. 2 center, Schenn has to move to a wing, which isn't a problem, and then other things will have to happen. That top six is pretty crowded. (Though let me also say, Schenn has to start playing better.) 
  • Perhaps I'm more optimistic than others but I feel like this team might be a little better than last years iteration. On the surface Buchnevich/Saad seem like an improvement over Schwartz/Dunn. Assuming they avoid another mid-season swoon, I could see this team ending up 2nd in the Central.
    I think not much will separate second from fifth or sixth in the Central. There are a lot of good teams in the division and who finishes where may come down entirely to how many injuries there are. If the Blues this season have the level of injuries they had last season, they will very easily not make the playoffs. If they stay healthy for the most part, second is very do-able.
    I am so happy hockey season is almost here. There's nothing like the sound of the puck hitting the blade of another player's stick from being passed. You can have four hour baseball games, time for the fastest sport in North America where they don't have to call a time out to replace players!
    Do you know if the NHL plans the Father-Son games on the road this year? I know the dads have a great time. I attended the Blues/Lightning game in early February 2019 when the dads were there, it was a blast. Between periods they came out and stood with the fans and I was able to talk to Binner's dad among others. They were very approachable and fun to talk to.
    Don't know if they have plans for a Father-Son trip this season. I wouldn't be surprised if they waited one more season before bringing it back. The Blues also need to consider a Moms' Trip, which other teams have done
    I wish we would trade Scandella. I want to see Mikkola and Walman play on the left side with Krug. I don't know what Scandella is any more . We got young guys that need to develop or else we will never know how good they can become.
  • Scandella, 31, is coming off an off year, which came after a really good year. The Blues need the Scandella who earned himself that extension with the Blues. Was last year a blip or the beginning of a downward path? Though that's the problem: he's got three years ago on a contract that has an AAV of $3.275 million per year. If he's not playing well, that's going to make him tough to trade. I've got no problem with playing Mikkola and Walman; they have no more to gain from the AHL and the Blues need to see what they've got.
  • It looks like the Blues will have a strong team this year, capable of competing for the Cup. They are much stronger at forward and will play much better on D, with Colton P healthy and Krug being much better, after finishing strong. Perunevich will be a nice reserve if something happens to Krug. Get ready folks!!!
  • Competing for the Cup this season is greatly hampered by being in the same division as Colorado. Getting around them will be difficult. Though anything can happen in the playoffs, the Blues are not as good as Colorado.
    I'll fire away with another since I do have one. Watching Perunovich at Traverse City this weekend, he often looked like the best player on the ice for both teams. I think it's necessary he starts in Springfield and probably runs top PP and gets a lot of ice time. What are your thoughts and if he does push for a roster spot with the big club, does a corresponding move need to be made?
    Unless he has a camp like Parayko did the year he jumped to the NHL after a cup of coffee in the AHL -- which I did not see coming -- Perunovich will start in the AHL, which will be good for him. He should have excelled in Traverse City; he's better and older than most of those guys. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a look at the NHL this season if an injury opens up a spot or two. If it doesn't, the only way he'll get a look is if it someone does not play well. If he gets called up then, a corresponding move will have to be made. A struggling Mikkola or Walman could be sent to the minors, though they would have to clear waivers and could be lost. Though if they're struggling, well, they could get through waivers. I think Perunovich will benefit from some time in the AHL. There are lots of things to learn.
    Looks like Perunovich only has to push out Bortuzoo to claim the 3rd line RD spot, is that something you think can occur after camp or mid way through the season or not at all?
    That could happen, but the Blues would then have to find something to do with Bortuzzo, and who knows what their salary cap issues will look like this season, because right now, they're going to need long term injured reserve or a trade to make it work. There might not be the money available to do that. Obviously their play will dictate what will happen, but in the long term, you're better off keeping Walman and Mikkola over Bortuzzo, so the dance will be to make it all work. But I'm also pretty confident in saying that somewhere along the way, a Blues defenseman will get hurt, and once that happens, then all sorts of things will follow.
    Were you surprised at the PTO’s given to Neal & Frolik? Do you think either has a legitimate shot at making the team?
    I wasn't. It's a low-risk gamble for the Blues, a good thing for Neal and Frolik, who get a chance to play in the preseason and possibly find a job somewhere else. I'd be real surprised if it was with the Blues. Ryan Whitney was with the Blues in camp on a PTO back in 2014, I think, and he had a good time, said the group was fun to be around, he was treated well, and he was basically there in hopes that someone somewhere would see him and he'd get a contract elsewhere. This is a tough time to be over 30 in the NHL.
    I believe there's some primacy bias going on with Dakota Joshua. (Primacy bias is the tendency to recall information presented at the start of a list better than information in the middle or at the end.) In Joshua's case, he has a puck deflect of his pants and score in his first game. I believe that's led to rosier assessments of his play than what the totality of the evidence suggests. That goal was his only point in 12 games. His possession metrics were bad (very bad considering the sheltered minutes he played). Yet, some folks talk about him as though it's expected that he's going to make the team and play regularly. I understand he's not expected to score goals or drive play, but if this team is going to be based on its depth, then you better have 4 good Cs. I'm rooting for the guy, but I am very skeptical that he is anything more than a healthy scratch/AHL call up to be used when you need a center in a pinch. Is this how the Blues view him or do they think there's more there? If the latter, based on what?
    You have captured Dakota Joshua's NHL career in a nutshell. Offensively, he was awful last season. (Expected goals when he was on the ice were 23% below the league average, per hockeyviz.com.) But he was a nice story, got that goal in his first game, has a fun name. He wasn't that bad defensively, so that's something, and it's one of the reasons he was in the prospects camp and went to Traverse City. He's got a lot to learn. Can he get better with more time in the minors? He's had only one full season in the minors, so I can't rule it out. It's also not his fault. He was thrust into a situation last season that was way above his level, but the Blues didn't have a choice.
    I've said this before, but you know who is else is a case of primacy bias? Parayko, who scored four goals in his first 10 NHL games and has been expected to be an offensive monster since then. Also, Dmitrij Jaskin, who scored 13 goals in his first full NHL season and who people thought would be a 20-goal scorer from then on. He never had more than six in an NHL season after that, but all most people saw was a guy who didn't live up to the scoring expectations created by that one season and missed a pretty good defensive forward.  
  • Not directly a Blues-related question, though it does involve old friend Bill Armstrong: With some solid youngsters in the pipeline and already on the team; three 1st-round and five (!) 2nd-round picks in next year's draft; plenty of cap space with only a couple contracts that require attention plus tons of money coming off the books after this season, is Bill Armstrong poised to build a long-term juggernaut in Phoenix? And do you think the Blues miss him as Asst. GM?
    He's in the first steps of a major rebuilding project at Arizona. If he drafts well, and Bill Armstrong is pretty good at drafting though as an NHL GM it's not in his hands as much as it was in St. Louis, the Coyotes could do well in the future. It may take them several seasons to get there though, and the wait can sometimes get uncomfortable. I'm sure the Blues miss him because he did a great job on the draft for them, and I guess we'll know in a few years if the people who replaced him did as well.
    Have you heard about Hitch coming aboard as an advisor?
    I've been in the chat tunnel for the past few hours so I don't know any more details, but Frank Seravelli reported this morning that the Blues would bring in Hitchcock as a coaching consultant and give an official role to Peter Chiarelli, the former GM at Boston and Edmonton. When Bill Armstrong left, the Blues promoted Ryan Miller to assistant GM, but Miller is more a contracts/salary cap guy than a talent assessment guy, so there was a space for someone like Chiarelli in the organization. And Armstrong and Hitch go back a long ways, even if Armstrong did fire him.
    By the way, the Blues have said that when Darren Pang is away on assignments with TNT, Jamie Rivers will serve as color commentator on Bally broadcasts.
    I watched all 3 Traverse City games and I was very impressed with Ellis in goal vs Detroit. He made some huge saves, looked poised, played the angles. I think our future between the pipes is in good hands. Do you see both Hofer and Eliis splitting time in the AHL or will one go down to ECHL so they can both get number 1 minutes?
    I would expect Ellis to go to Worcester of the ECHL so he can get games, because at Springfield, he would play probably only one out of every three games. Not sure who the other goalie would be in the ECHL, who the Blues will share with the Islanders, but it would probably be closer to a 50-50 split.
    Interestingly, though Ellis was in the draft class behind Hofer, he's only two months younger. His birthday just happened to fall on the other side of the cutoff. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the years ahead since the Blues are going to have a crowded backlog of goalies and with Binnington having a six-year deal, room for only one of them. Husso, Hofer and Ellis are pretty much battling for one job going forward. 
    I was one that voted for the Blues to win the Central. The Blues have several offensive weapons and a few on the d side, but it all hinges on......the goaltending, like it does every year. Do you think the Blues can defend well enough in front of Binner for him to do his thing like he did in '19? Part of Binnington's magic back then was he had the likes of JayBo, Petro and Colt 55 keeping the shots to a minimum. Can they do it in 2021-22?
    The simplest answer is, No, they can't, because that was a heck of a defense. I don't think the Blues right now have anyone who is a comparable for Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo, and the Parayko of today has got some work to do to be as good as the Parayko of then. And it's going to be hard for the Binnington of 21-22 to play as well as the Binnington of 18-19, because that was an exceptional season for him, one of the best for any goalie.
  • If Vladi stays (and thrives like I think he will) do you see a way for Army to trade Krug and even keeps some of his salary in order to play Perunovich? The Blues will save money in this scenario because the kid is young and will be cheap for several years.
    I don't see a scenario where the Blues trade Krug, for any reason. Trading an established, high-paid and not bad veteran to make room for an untested kid is a bit of a stretch.
    Tom, any chance Armstrong pulls a BriseBois and trades for a player on LTIR (I'm thinking Anaheim's Ryan Kessler) to exploit that LTIR loophole to add cap space?
    No, but I don't think it works that way anyway.
    Happy Hump Day Tom. Thanks for the chat!

    Monday evening I watched a preview of a new Tom Hanks movie "Finch" coming to Apple+ in early November. In one quick scene at 47 seconds into the preview Hanks is shown wearing an old Blues jersey. Check it out at youtube-nocookie.com
    Here's a link to the trailer:
    Tom, I've read on a few different hockey columns that the Blues had a three team deal in the works to trade Tarasenko. Either Seattle or Buffalo was willing to take on some of Tarasenko's salary in return for a high draft pick. Speculation was the third team was New Jersey. Have you heard of any such deal?
    If there were those talks, they never got too far along.
  • OK, those three hours flew by. Thanks for the time and participation. Jim and Gordo and I recorded a Net Front Presence podcast this morning, so savor that and starting tomorrow, there will be gobs of content coming out of training camp each day, both online and in the paper. And on Saturday, there's a game, the start of a very busy preseason where the Blues play eight games in 14 days. Jim and I will be bouncing all around for those. Not exactly sure of the timing of next week's chat, since it's a Blues game day, but we'll see. 
    And before I say goodbye, one more question just dropped in, so don't go away just yet.

    Net Front Presence: Robert Thomas gets his contract, training camp opens

    STLtoday.comPost-Dispatch beat reporters Jim Thomas and Tom Timmermann joined columnist Jeff Gordon to discuss the new contract for forward Robert Thomas, the tryouts for James Neal and Michael Frolik and
  • Hi Tom! There was a discussion earlier in the chat about lineups & where Bozak plays. To me, it makes sense for Bozak to play with Thomas so that Bozak can take the draws especially in the defensive zone. Let's not forget the game winning overtime goal in the playoffs where Bozak won the draw, Thomas did his thing & the Blues were on their way to play the Bruins in the SC.
    Bozak and Thomas have often been coupled, and Thomas has certainly benefitted from it. But apart from taking faceoffs, Bozak's offensive game was not that great last season, and while his injuries certainly limited things, I don't know that third line time is the best situation for him going forward. And if Thomas is going to be the high-caliber center the Blues hope he can be, at some point, he's got to fend for himself and they can't keep having Bozak take faceoffs for him. For the Blues to reap the benefits of Thomas's skill, they need him to play alongside talented offensive players.
    And the Blues have just announced the moves I mentioned before, with Hitchcock returning as  coaching consultant, and Chiarelli taking over from Dave Taylor as vice president of hockey operations. Taylor, who is 65, will become senior advisor to hockey operations. Maybe it's because I grew up in Los Angeles, but I've always liked running into Taylor on the road and talking with him. He was based in Southern California, so I'd see him whenever the Blues made a trip west and he was just a fun guy to be around. So good luck to him going forward.
    Hitchcock and Berube go back a ways, but just what Hitchcock's role as coaching consultant will be is unspecified right now. I'm sure we'll know shortly.
    OK, on that note, I'm going to wrap it up for this week, and we'll be back next week for more Blues fun when we can start taking part what we've seen in the first few games of the preseason. Thanks one and all.
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