Good afternoon. I'm going to be doing a bit of multi-tasking here at the start. Doug Armstrong has a 1 p.m. call with reporters, so I'll be listening to that for the first 15 minutes or so, passing along updates. I expect there will be a Schenn update. Notably, they didn't say anything about Schenn in the Neighbours announcement. So here we go.
Joshua's cap hit is actually less than Neighbours, 750,000 to 866,667
Schenn is still day to day, but he's skating and Armstrong says he's closer to playing. No injured reserve in the offing for him.
They sent Schenn home from the road because he wasn't going to be playing in those games, so that would be easier on him
Armstrong said that, among other things, Neighbours would get a chance to play in all situations, rather than just the 5 on 5 early game situations he would get with the Blues. Thinks he could have "survived" with Blues, but for development, best to go back to juniors and get lots of ice time in all situations
In emergency situations, the Blues could recall Neighbours, but Armstrong said those are very, very unlikely. For all intents and purposes, won't be back this season
Armstrong says Sundqvist has gone from week to week to day to day. "See light at the end of the tunnel, whether next 7 or 10 or 14 days." Making good progress. No setbacks.
Armstrong says they expect Husso back "in short order." Everyone closer to finish line than starting line.
If you go back to the team's original opening day lineup, it was cap compliant, had 23 players and had Sundqvist on it. Substitute Kostin for Neighbours on that group and the team will be cap compliant. Right now, they need to get back to two goalies. Hofer's money right now makes it crowded right now, because when they get Sundqvist back, they'll be right up against the cap.
Berube said they thought he could be skating Thursday. Armstrong was a bit hesitant on that a few minutes ago. But if not Thursday, then Saturday. The Blues haven't made a move to send Hofer back to Springfield yet, which will be the tipoff that Husso is ready.
The team sends a private plane for them, and apparently it needs to be a medical plane, with a nurse on board. Or so I've been told. So it's not cheap.
Rosen is a left side defenseman like Krug, and Santini is a right side. Not that they couldn't switch sides, but that's the simplest reason.
Blues haven't had a full three-period bad game, but last night came close. That was a good game for Binnington, and Armstrong just acknowledged that it was well received by the GM of the Canadian Olympic team.
I don't think so. Mikkola has to go through waivers and Rosen doesn't (at least right now; he's not waiver exempt, but he's already gone through), and risking losing Mikkola to keep someone like Rosen as the seventh defenseman wouldn't make sense. (Because when Mikkola is back, Krug should be back too.)
OK, Armstrong is done talking, so you have my full and undivided attention.
More injuries are always possible, but right now, it looks like Sundqvist is back next week and Schenn could be playing again sometime very soon, at which point, ice time gets very tight and, as Armstrong just said, guys who aren't used to being scratched may be getting scratched. Neighbours wasn't getting ice time now and if he stayed, he wasn't going to be playing ahead of Kostin or Neal, so going back to juniors made the most sense.
The protocols the league set up regarding COVID are separate from the CBA, though most of them have been done in conjunction with the players association. I'm not sure of the precise logic behind the decision on COVID cases and the cap, but the league may have figured that, with everyone vaccinated, any absence would be 10 days tops, which is about the same as the seven days that IR requires. And in some cases, it could be less. So the league may have figured that while it would at worst be a short-term problem for teams, it would go away quickly. Which, it looks like for the Blues, is what has happened. Though the obvious difference when it comes to treating COVID like ankle sprains is that if one guy sprains an ankle, four other guys don't get them too, which is a possibility with COVID.
The league has said no change is coming and there was a GMs meeting the other day which made some changes to the COVID protocols, but nothing regarding the cap. If everything holds for the next few days, any cap issues the Blues have will be standard issue cap problems.
A year ago, when the Blues called up Anas and someone else, the Blues had to figure where the team would be in 10 days, have those two guys fly there and quarantine in a hotel there and be ready to join the team. In Anas' case, he wasn't needed by then and went back. This season, things are a little easier with callups though sending guys home from the road with COVID is an expensive situation.
I think he's destined to be a playmaker more than a scorer, but he can also be a guy that gets around 20 goals a season, and I think he's starting to accept that the more he shoots, the easier it is to pass. He easily could have had a hat trick in San Jose. Armstrong was raving about that game. I saw some numbers yesterday about how Thomas is one of the best players in the league on passing the puck into the attacking zone, while Kyrou is one of the best for carrying it in, which has got to be great news for Tarasenko, who recently has been on a line with those two. I think a guy who creates a lot of chances like Thomas is going to be a guy who is the beneficiary of those chances as well.
Thomas won 7 out of 8 defensive zone faceoffs last night, and O'Reilly was 0 for 6. (Bozak was 1 for 6.) (Thomas was 4 for 4 against Dubois.) So that was the staff last night realizing that one guy was doing well in those situations and the others weren't. It's very possible there is some residual weakness for O'Reilly as he comes back from being sick. His two worst faceoff nights of the season have been his last two, but conveniently Thomas' past two have been his best. If Thomas is ever going to be a solid two-way center, he's got to win those faceoffs, and he's starting to do it.
Edmonton's last regular-season game is April 3, and the Blues is April 29, so depending on how long the Oil Kings last in the playoffs, it's possible. Whether Neighbours played at that point or not would depend on injuries, but unless the Blues are in a severe roster crunch, I can see him practicing with the team but not playing. But that's a long way away.
Certainly an option if he's going to be a healthy scratch every night, but he's one of those guys that the Blues value for his leadership and experience. He's in the last year of his contract, so moving him at some point isn't out of the question. But if there's a roster pinch and he's healthy, than the solution will be to play him.
There was once a soccer executive I covered, who had a policy: if you left him a message, he would get back to you, but if you called a second time, he would put your message on the bottom of the pile.