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.

    Greetings one and all and welcome to the Blues chat. Jim is either in Toronto or Newark or possibly in between, Matt was supposed to have had his chat training yesterday, and I'm here. It's, well, a tumultuous time in Bluesland. So you may have questions. I'm all yours for the next few hours.
    Who do you think is Blues All Star pick? I think Thomas or Buchy. Also why not pick Vrana up?? It’s a no brainer!!!
    Early on Buchnevich was the obvious choice. Kyrou has the hot hand right now and in the All-Star Game format, would probably be the league's choice. 
    As for Vrana, his contract isn't going to work for the Blues. 
    The injuries to O’Reilly and Tarasenko could not have come at a worst time. Providing O’Reilly can come back in 6 weeks that puts him in the middle of February to return. Just three weeks before the trade deadline. Do you see both injuries putting a damper on their value in return?
    O'Reilly has proved himself pretty durable over the years, and taking a puck to the foot is something that happens in hockey, not the sign of a larger deterioration. Same with Tarasenko's hand injury. When both heal, they should be fine and assuming they play at a normal level in the three-week gap, their trade value shouldn't be impacted too much. These are injuries that O'Reilly and Tarasenko should come back from. If it got to within a week of the deadline, it might be trickier.
    Hey Tom.. Good afternoon!!... Any chance the Blues go full on and rebuild this thing--multiple players traded before the deadline. Create cap room, get draft picks, young prospects... Build around Kyrou/Thomas, Buch, etc... In 2-3 years they are back in contention.. Can/Should they do it?? Thoughts good sir... Thanks T!!!
    Guess it depends on how you define a full rebuild. Current trends point to O'Reilly and Tarasenko being traded. Barbashev would probably go too. Most other high-priced players have no-trade clauses, which will make trading them trickier. But even then, there's not going to be a whole lot of cap space. The Blues already have $71 million committed for next season (on 14 players) on a cap that may go up $1 million to $83.5 million. The O'Reilly and Tarasenko money is already spent. So you're looking at $12 million to spend on nine or so players. The Blues would have to find a way to trade one of their high-priced defensemen. That's not going to be easy. And I don't know that the team wants to be bad for two or three years. They're a team that's very dependent on the gate.
    What’s it going to take for Tyler Tucker to get some ice time? Also, why is Pitlick getting any ice time? Why isn’t Hayhurst, Peca or Hoelscher getting a sniff? They are the future. Let’s see what they can do.
    I'm assuming this was asked before Tucker was sent back down to Springfield and Steven Santini called up. If Tucker were still here, the answer would have been for something to happen to Calle Rosen. The Blues top six at the moment is pretty locked in, and now is not the time that they want to be looking at youngsters. That will happen in March and April. 
    The Blues wanted Neighbours to get ice time in Springfield to play and improve. That's what they feel is best for young players.
    And Hayhurst and Hoelscher are not the future. They're not even under contract to the Blues. And Peca hasn't played a game this season. 
    Grab Vrana off waivers. Put Michigan native Torey Krug on waivers and have a prearranged deal with Stevie Y to claim him. That's how you get around Krugs NTC. I should be GM instead of the mail clerk!!!
    Well, Vrana cleared waivers, so this point is moot, but I believe trying something like that would get you a call from both the NHL and from the NHLPA.
    I’m glad Armstrong called out Parayko the other day. I focused in on him last night and he continues to make bad passes and still has trouble clearing the puck out of our zone. Every once in a while, you see him skate but for the most part he doesn’t appear to be playing very hard. Every time a goal goes in you see #55 skating away.
    Though as Armstrong noted in his conversation with us, early in the season, Blues fans wanted something done with Kyrou, and now, not so much. Parayko has of late not been playing great, but he's a better defensive player than both Faulk and Krug and has probably the biggest potential upside of the group. If the Blues were looking to make a move on the defensive end, Parayko would be the player other teams would be most interested in. This season, I'd say he's been about as good as the rest of the defensive unit.
    Army talking about the AHL team's chemistry as compared to the NHL roster's was pretty telling. What is your sense on what the locker room vibe is?
    Hard to tell because we've seen a lot of empty rooms this season. Most of the guys have cleared out of the room by the time reporters come in. Needless to say, with the way the season is going, it's tough for people to be too upbeat on the team. It was notable when Armstrong said that, but mostly that inserting young guys into a group that isn't playing well together does not lead to progress for those young players. Better to have a structured situation in Springfield, where you can learn the process and system than having no idea what may happen next in St. Louis. Also, the way Berube deploys players, ice time suffers noticeably. Alexandrov played 6:37 last night. If the Blues are playing catchup, as they often are, those third and fourth line guys are just not getting ice time. Nor are they getting it if the Blues are protecting a one-goal lead. It's why Tucker got sent down and Santini got called up. If you're going to scratch a guy every night, make it a veteran, not a rookie who needs to play.
    Hi Mr. Timmermann,

    I hope this isn't your last Blues chat, but if it is, it has been a good run. I have enjoyed your humor and expertise.

    The Blues signed Joel Hofer to a two year, one way contract extension. Does that mean he's the plan for backup goalie next year, or might they still try to find a relatively inexpensive veteran such as Greiss?
    It is my last regularly scheduled chat, though the boss has said he retains the right to bring me back. It's probably the last for this season; after we've had a full season of MLS, we'll be better able to say how well the two seasons fit together and if I can be used on the Blues.
    Barring unforeseen events, Hofer will be the backup next season. That was always the plan with Greiss, as a one-year player filling in until Hofer was ready. 
  • Oh, and thanks. Much appreciated.
    Hello Tom! No one has said a word about Acciari leaving the Blues after this season. (According to CapFriendly, he's a UFA after this season.) He seems to be the only offseason signing having a significant impact on the team this year. Shouldn't we be more concerned about that than we are?
    Acciari is a UFA after this season and has been a good fit for the Blues, though his offensive analytics aren't that great. (His Corsi percentage is one of the lowest on the team.) I could see the Blues trying to re-sign him, which they can now do, but I could also see Armstrong waiting to see how the season plays out. As a UFA, he could be a trade candidate come the deadline and he'll be more trade-able if he's on an expiring contract.
    If this is your last Blues chat it's a bittersweet day indeed! I still think you should be a "special guest" occasional Blues chat meister. You know Elliot Friedman is supposedly an NHL insider. He says Army is definitely moving Mikkola. A big strong good young defender that we have none of--other than him. He must want out he's s UFA at the end of the year. We have no other Finns on the team I think that's one of the reasons for him to want out.
    Yes, the chat experience is a hard one to replicate. As I said in another response, it's probably the last for this season, but who knows beyond that. 
    Mikkola has been one of the better defenders on the team this season, and I don't know that any of the Blues young d-men are ready to step in. Mikkola is a defense-first guy, and the combination of him and Parayko has been an above-average pairing for the team, the best among pairing to play more than 75 minutes together in terms of expected-goals percentage. I'd keep him, but the Blues are going to be wanting time soon for Tucker and Kessel and Loof (and Perunovich, who knows) and if they expect his next contract to be more than they can fit under the cap, then moving him is on the table. 
    You gotta love the hit Neighbors put on the Leafs d-man to make Saad's second goal happen. We need more of the hitting we saw last night. Do you think they can keep it up?

    Also, please reassure me Logan Brown has a chance to become Tage Thompson. Brown's got the 6'6" frame but does he have the hands?
    I think the Blues played with a bit of an adrenaline rush last night, given the situation they're in, and they'll have to keep that going. That will be a challenge. After a while, reality tends to catch up with teams, and the Blues right now are a two-line team, which is hard to sustain.
    Brown is not going to get the chance Thompson got in Buffalo. Thompson wasn't going to get that chance in St. Louis. With the Sabres, Don Granato was able to give Thompson a lot of top-line time and power-play time. That's not going to happen with Brown (though this month would be that opportunity). He's going to have to find a way to get better and show himself in a third-line role if he's ever going to get to be like Thompson. Not saying he can't do it, but it would be easier for him to do it with a developing team that would give him more of a chance than Ottawa did. 
    Was surprised Jakub Vrana cleared waivers. Did you think that would make sense for the Blues?
  • When O'Reilly, Tarasenko and Krug returned after the All-Star break, there would be no way to fit his $5 million-plus contract under the salary cap. In a non-cap world, he might have been worth a try, but on a team that's not doing well defensively, he would not have been a step forward.
    Following up on Kyrou all star … didnt he kinda wet the bed after his all star appearance???? He was great before and during but after was like he lost the groove of hockey. You know I’m a buchnevich supporter lol but if not buch or Kyrou I feel Thomas would go since he’s a top player since he signed that big contract
    Usually I wouldn't post a question like this, and in my last chat, I probably should have done this sooner, but everyone needs to stop with disparaging comments. I don't want any part of them. Call in to talk radio if you want to do that.
    I wasn’t happy with how quickly the Toronto goals came after a Blues goal, but I was pleased with the Blues response after… they didn’t collapse as they did earlier in the season. So I guess that’s progress.

    We’re gonna miss you here on the Blues beat, so as you head off to MLS I gotta know… is it red or pink?
    Having seen the jersey up close, it's clearly pink.
    If we're close but not making the playoffs that does zero for the retool. It would be the same old middle round draft position. Better with 3 second round picks or as many possible on rounds 1-4 tight?
    The Blues farm system is running a little thin, so anything they can do to stock it up will help, but I don't know that building around third and fourth round picks is going to build a contender. First-round picks have a value, whether used on a player or traded for someone else. It puts a heavy burden on the quality of your scouting department. Returns are still coming on the Blues drafts post-Bill Armstrong.
    I think some of us may not understand how "waivers" works in terms of picking up a player on waivers. Lots of questions about Vrana. Can you explain how that would work, specifically regarding Vrana? I think some of us think that "waivers" means they no longer have a contract. They were "bought out".
    The Blues would be on the hook for Vrana's contract, which has a $5.25 million hit both this season and next season. While the Blues could make that work now because Krug is on LTIR, they would have to clear $5.25 million of space. 
    There are unconditional waivers, which is what a team does when it wants to buy out a player's contract. Those aren't what players are going through now. 
    Before the season an Atlantic article ranking the NHL farm system's had the Blues ranked 29th out of 32 teams. If Army doesn't pull a few rabbits out of his hat the Blues are doomed! Brett Hull with his pot belly might need to play again!
  • The Blues have made a lot of trades in recent years involving players they've drafted. Right now, not counting Neighbours who's currently up, Bolduc, Snuggerud, Hofer and Loof are the prime players in the system.

    With the Blues possibly trading pending UFA's for picks and prospects, its not hard to see the team retool on the fly. They have Jofer in the wings at goal (I hope he receives some time in net at the end of this season, if we are out of the playoffs) and with players like Neighbors, Bolduc, and Snuggerud, who is performing well in the Word Juniors, that's a descent system to build upon.
    That's a good foundation but, as Armstrong noted the other day, those guys are still young. Neighbours can be a regular next season, Bolduc may be a season or more away. Snuggerud is having a great juniors tournament, though the link between good play at world juniors and in the NHL isn't very solid. So you're talking three seasons maybe before you have those guys, Kyrou and Thomas playing at a good level. 
    At which point, the Blues might still have under contract 34-year-old Torey Krug, 33-year-old Justin Faulk, 34-year-old Nick Leddy and 32-year-old Colton Parayko. 
    So your saying if they lose O'Reilly and Tarasenko and Barby, which would be about $18 million, that that money is already allocated to those 14 players? Really? Well that seems sort of impossible to field a good team with only about 12 million for all those players, maybe it would be easier to try to build from teh ground up.. REboot the thing and build around the young guys... Geez, we are in trouble!!! :(
    O'Reilly and Tarasenko make a combined $15 million this season, and they come off the books. But next year, the big raises for Thomas and Kyrou, which come up to $10.6 million, go into effect. So that's only $4 million of space they pick up. Unless they can part with another big salaried player -- which isn't out of the question -- it will be hard for the Blues to get any big-name free agent. 
    It will be slightly easier to trade Scandella in the final season of his contract, which would free up $3.275 million if they could make that happen. 
    Armstrong has certainly had a lot of success with the Blues. But do you think he has badly mismanaged the cap situation? I know Covid impacted finances and the cap, but he has handed out some big, long contracts that will handicap this team moving forward.
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