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.

    Hi everybody. I have dashed home from practice, plopped myself down at the dining room table, fired up the computer, and here we go. Jim is en route to Columbus for the game tonight as we speak, so you've got me again. Camp opened a week ago. We know some things. Not much, but some things. With that, let's get started.
    How is Logan Brown looking? Is there any room for him on the roster? I don't see any! Poor kid has to go to the minors again!
    It will be a tight fit on the roster, though Brown has one advantage over Kostin in that Kostin doesn't have to go through waivers to be sent down to the AHL, so if it was a tossup between the two, the Blues might keep Brown so they don't risk losing him. He's in the lineup tonight, so we'll get a look at him and he'll get some power play time. Berube said in the couple days he's been here, he's seen that he has good hands for a big guy. "He moves well too for his size," Berube said, "but he's got good hands. He's a high pick, so he's got good ability." How the Blues handle the final few spots on the roster will be one of the mysteries of this camp. MacEachern, Kostin, Brown, Clifford, even Neighbours, are in the mix down there.
    Assuming Schenn, O”Reilly, Thomas, and Bozak are all at center, that leaves 8 starting wingers. Count Tarasenko, Buchnayvech, Kyrou, Perron, Saad, and Barbashev for 6 spots with Sunquist on IR. That leaves four spots assuming we carry only 7 D. Any chance Neal and/or Neighbors stick? Are McEachearn, Joshua, and Clifford at risk? Sure seems like the skill set favors the prior two. Thoughts?
    The Sanford trade opens up a spot in the forward group, and Neal is probably the biggest beneficiary of that bunch. Easier now to see a spot for him. In practice this morning, the non-game group skated and there were lines of Saad-O'Reilly-Perron and Buchnevich-Schenn-Tarasenko, and I can see the Blues starting the season with those lines. They make a lot of sense. Then you need a left wing to go with Thomas and Kyrou on the third line and three guys for the fourth line, which probably includes Bozak. 
    If the Blues had more guys they could send to the AHL without having to clear waivers, I could see them giving Neighbours a cup of coffee and letting him get in two or three regular-season games, but to do that, they would have to expose someone on waivers. Many of the guys would get through: I don't think there's much risk on MacEachern or Clifford or Joshua. Brown might be of interest to somebody. So the question would be if the Blues wanted to risk exposing someone to give Neighbours a look. Might not be worth it unless they were really sold that he could play at this level.
    I need to see more of Neal. He's in the lineup tonight. He's been on a downward trajectory the past few years. Don't know that you can pin much on that first game. A hat trick is nice, but that was a pretty raw Minnesota lineup. Earlier, I had him as having almost no chance of making the team. Now it seems a bit more possible.  
    Why was Sanford traded? Was it more flexibility with the cap…? Was it more moves to be made so this was the first domino?
    While much of the fan base might not agree, the Blues liked Sanford and he brought some useful skills to the team. But at some point, the Blues were going to have to get under the salary cap. Sundqvist will start the season on LTIR, so they were going to be OK at the start, but they were going to have to do something when he got back. That might have taken care of itself with another injury, but it might not have and Armstrong chose to move Sanford when he had the chance rather than later. It's not about cap flexibility; it was about getting under the cap. Right now, capfriendly has them $732,000 under the cap with 13 forwards including Sundqvist.
    Cannot send Kostin down. You will lose him to the KHL,
    Well, you won't lose him this season; he's under contract to the Blues. But yes, going forward, that's going to be a thing. He's an RFA after this season and could easily decide to take his game back to Russia. The Blues will have to decide whether the risk of losing someone they don't want to lose to waivers outweighs the risk of alienating Kostin. I don't think he has anything more to gain by playing in the AHL, and after all this time, he would probably not be too keen on going back to the minors. It's also the path of least resistance, and that's a road teams often choose to take.
  • Tom, I know Tarasenko changed agents earlier this year. Did the trade demand and trashing the Blues team physicians all happen after the new agent took control?
    Yes, it happened after the new agent took over.
    Tom, I played ice hockey for 45 years albeit pick up and some organized leagues in town. Played on a lot of different teams with a lot of different guys. Some of these guys couldn’t stand each other. But when the skates hit the ice all that is forgotten. It’s time to play hockey. I’m sure Schenn, O’Reilly and everyone else is saying all the right things for public consumption, behind closed doors however it might be a different situation. It would behoove Tarasenko to play well in order for Army to move him for adequate compensation. You can bet though that if the right deal is presented Army won’t hesitate shipping him out.
    If a deal came along, Armstrong would give it a long look, but at this point now, it's harder and harder to see that trade happening unless some team develops a drastic need. While O'Reilly and Schenn are politic enough to know the right thing to say, they're also hockey players. They know how careers go, and how injuries happen. And each of them knows that they could end up in a situation like Tarasenko or Jack Eichel is in and think, you know, I might feel exactly like Tarasenko feels. These careers are finite, and high-end players I think can relate to losing a season of your career to what they feel is an unnecessary reason. 
    And many of us have co-workers who may pout or whine but we can still get along with them. I know I have. 
    O'Neal looked good in his first game; if the Blues were to sign him, what would it cost salary wise?
    Much of that will be determined by how much salary cap space they have available at the time. One thing, though, that the Blues have going for them is that under Neal's buyout, he's already getting paid $1.9 million by Edmonton for the next four seasons. So if the Blues paid him $1 million, he'd still be making almost $3 million, which isn't too bad. It would be tough for the Blues to go too much higher than that with their salary cap issues.
    Hi Tom, thanks for your time. I know the Sanford deal was abt his $2 mil salary. But what do we know abt Logan Brown, other than he was a 1st round pick. I know Sanford made us all crazy, but he could kill penalties and (sometimes) score 15-16 goals .
    What we know about Logan Brown is he didn't live up to the expectations Ottawa had for him as the 11th pick overall in the draft. He's a big guy, and that won't change. He's been consistently good defensively and in the closest thing he's come to a full season, 2019-20, he was decent offensively too. In talking about him today, Berube kept coming back to his hands, that he has good hands for a big guy. Injuries were also a problem in Ottawa. There was a decent chance that Ottawa was going to send him back to the minors this season, and there's a decent chance the Blues do as well. This will be an important camp for him. He told me today the drive to St. Louis from Ottawa didn't seem as long as the drive from St. Louis to Ottawa a week ago. His spirits are much higher now. We'll have to see if that translates into his game.
  • I didn't get the chance to watch either of the pre-season games so far. How has Perunovich looked? I know there's been speculation that the Blues would like him to get some games under his belt in the A because he missed pretty much all of last season, but he also has the potential to elevate the D corps in a way that Mikkola and Walman don't, in my opinion. And it's not like he's 18, 19 like Neighbors. He played college hockey at the highest level for multiple years.
    Perunovich played in the first two games and looked pretty good for someone who hadn't played in over a year, though he did mishandle that 2 on 1 against Dallas wrong and he knew it. With his long hiatus, he will probably benefit from time in the AHL, but I think he will be high on the list for a potential callup if an injury occurs. Berube seems to be cautious when it comes to praising Perunovich, likely not wanting to create expectations. He is, as they say, tamping the brakes. A decision to keep Perunovich would mean something would happen with Walman or Mikkola, since both have to go through waivers. Walman probably has a better chance of getting through waivers than Mikkola does. And I'd put both of those guys in the category of guys who won't get more out of the AHL. Of note in camp is that Walman seems to be getting better defensive partners than Mikkola has.
    Would you lean to giving more of the young guys a chance or filling in the spots with veterans
    Depends on the veteran, of course, but if you've got a guy who potentially has six years ahead of him and a guy that has one, I'd go with the guy who has six. Unless you thought that one player was the difference in you making a legitimate Stanley Cup run. In that case, you go all in. This will be part of the dilemma the Blues are facing: Does Neal create a big enough gain that one year of him is worth more to you than however much you get from Kostin down the road? I'm not one to say turn the team over to the kids -- I remember calls in this very chat for the Blues to do that early in 2018-19, that the season was lost and they should just activate the whole San Antonio roster -- but when you've got a one vs. one (or 1 v 1 v. 1) decision -- do you keep Clifford or MacEachern or Kostin -- I would lean young.
    It’s great that Tarasenko has decided to be a team guy again, but what happens the next time he gets injured, and I don’t mean just the shoulder, but anything. I know the team doctors are professionals and will do whatever they need to do to get him healthy, but I have to believe it’s going to be an awkward situation. Let’s say Army ends up trading Tarasenko to say New Jersey. Do you think their trainers are going to be looking over their shoulders first time he gets dinged up thinking they too could be thrown under the bus?
  • I haven't been alone in thinking the bigger peril for the Blues is how Tarasenko gets along with the support staff rather than his teammates. On the other hand, the training staff doesn't make nearly as much money as the players make and have a job that I think teams would not have trouble filling, so they have a very high incentive to do their job as professionally and competently as possible, despite how they may feel. And it may at times feel awkward.
  • To Steve who's ready to party...."Its 2 o'clock and I wanna rock!"
  • Well, it's 3 for you Barry, assuming you are in Orlando at the moment
  • Hi Tom - what does Hitchcock bring to the table this turn with the Blues? Any special task he's assigned to? Can't imagine, in this environment, Stillman is just throwing paychecks around.
    I asked Berube about this last week and he said it doesn't make any difference to him, since he calls and talks to Hitchcock regularly anyway, whether he was a consultant or not. But this is now an invitation for other members of the staff, staffers who have never met him, to talk to him. It's unclear how often Hitchcock might show up and see the team in person -- he was living in the Palm Springs area last I heard -- but he's a resource more than anything. He'll watch games, offer suggestions and be a sounding board for coaches at all levels.
    Yes its 3pm eastern for me,....I am trying to relate to you all in the midwest!
    Hi Tom - who has the edge for goalie of the future - Ellis or Hofer. Seems the shine has faded a little on Hofer while Ellis seems to be progressing well.
    Both looked good in Traverse City. Hofer will get two periods tonight, and Ellis has yet to get in a preseason game, so Hofer has the edge at the moment. Hofer is only about two months older than Ellis but has the advantage of being a year ahead professionally. Hofer will likely get an NHL chance before Ellis does, so in some ways, it's his spot to lose. The future could be very soon. Husso is blocking Hofer or Ellis but he is blocked by Binnington. Husso is a UFA after this season, so this is a contract year for him. If he plays well, maybe some team tries to make him an offer that takes him elsewhere. If that door opens, Hofer is first in line, though his play, and Ellis' this season, will determine who gets in.
    Tom, What do you think the odds of Klim Kostin making the Blues are ? Thx
    I think they're good. I think he's gotten all he's going to get out of the AHL and at some point, the Blues have to see what he can do in the NHL. If he doesn't make the team, it's for a practical reason, namely that he doesn't have to go through waivers so he can be moved around easily and they don't have to risk losing someone else. Asked about him today, Berube said his play in camp had been "fine." "His shot has been noticeable, he's really shot the puck well, scoring on the goalies. The game he played, I thought he had a good third period, he was more assertive using his feet, getting on top of people. He's got to be a pretty straight line player for us, up and down, banging bodies, going to the net, using his shot, playing a simple game. He doesn't need to complicate things. He has to be a power forward in my opinion, be good around the net. We're going to use him on the PP tonight in front of the net so he'll get some looks there. So far, it's been fine."
    When you look at the salaries and the cap savings, the Sanford trade seems like the Blues chose to retain the 35-year-old Tyler Bozak, a player trending towards the end of his career, rather than keep the 26-year-old who scored 26 goals over the last 2 seasons. Obviously not being able to trade Vladdy squeezed the Blues cap space, but the team seemingly could of not have signed Bozak's late to stay flexible enough to keep Sanford. Bozak is better in the face-off circle, but Sanford's defense and occasional offense seems more valuable when compared to a fourth line center who's fortunate to have found a job.
  • In a perfect world, the Blues would keep Sanford over Bozak. I would keep Sanford over Bozak. But, here's one thing about salary cap math: If the Blues didn't have Bozak, they would have another player in his place making the exact same salary. Trading Bozak, not signing Bozak, saves them nothing because the guy in that spot will also be making $725,000. But, if you trade someone like Sanford who makes $2 million and replace him with someone who makes $725,000, you have reduced your cost against the cap by more than $1 million. The Blues have to get under the cap, so they needed to have a net negative in salaries. Hence, Bozak. Bozak's bonuses will count against this year's cap, but if they push the Blues over the cap, the excess will count against next year's cap. Hence the bonus heavy structure of his contract.
  • The Blues have worn Cardinal sweaters during warm up on occasion, have the Cardinals ever worn Blues shirts in their warmups? I liken the Cards 17 game win streak to the Blues 11 game streak in 2019...would it be messing with the baseball gods by changing things up during their hot streak? Or should the Cards try to get a little extra positive mojo from a recent Stanley Cup winner for their playoff run?
    Sees to me the Cardinals wore Blues gear around the time of the Stanley Cup win. The Cardinals had Blues night at Busch a few weeks ago, with Schenn throwing out the first pitch. But in a streak like this for the Cardinals, unless the uniform change was already planned, nothing is changing. Superstition runs deep.
    Are we really worried about losing Mikkola or Walman to waivers? They'll both be 26 before the season is over and have 4 points and 2 points, respectively, in their NHL careers. I realize it's not all about points for defenseman, but I haven't seen anything out of those guys to make me think they're anything but third pairing guys.
    I think Walman would get through waivers, but I don't think Mikkola would. I think teams would look at a 6-5 guy like Mikkola and think he would be a nice addition. Of all the defensemen in the Blues system, the one guy that has the look of a shutdown guy like the defense of old is Mikkola. The Blues have to find out if Mikkola or Walman is a fit in the NHL or they have to move on, but they would rather move on under their control, by getting an asset in return for either one of those guys. But also, at the end of camp, when players are going through waivers by the boatload, it's easier to slip a guy through.
    Hi Mr. Timmermann,

    I often feel kind of bad for a player who gets dealt to an awful team, like Sanford to Ottawa. Maybe there's some positives to it, such as a chance to get more minutes, or it's a pretty place to live. Do you know if players mind much about the quality of the team they are traded to, or do they focus on the opportunity it offers their career more than just winning now?
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