It's hot outside. Heck, it's hot inside. So let's talk hockey.
I'd say the market for Bozak is low. He seems to have fallen into a situation like Brouwer did the other year. At his age and his level, he may be looking at a PTO somewhere. He projects as a bottom six forward now, and the Blues can fill up their bottom six pretty easily. Bringing him back would force the Blues to move on from a younger guy, and it makes little sense for the team to go for one more year of Bozak and giving up who knows how many years of a MacEachern or Sanford or Kostin.
The Blues can tell Bozak they would like to have him around in case someone gets hurt, but if another team makes him an offer, it would be silly for him not to take it. It's not tampering since he's a free agent, but he would have every reason to say, if you want me around, pay me. There's no free labor here.
No. He'll get more than that. He's worth more than that. The $1.5 million they are under the cap is an illusion. They can go over in the offseason, and they will, especially since a trade of Tarasenko seems inevitable. And even if for some reason that didn't happen, there would be other things to do. Ultimately, the Blues are in a situation where they are going to have to keep a lot of Tarasenko's salary if they're going to trade him. Thomas' contract value will have a say in that.
Teams that lose out on Eichel would be the ones probably interested in Tarasenko. They're very different players, so it's no one is probably weighing the two options, but a team that doesn't get Eichel would likely have the cap space to go after Tarasenko. Though, again, if the Blues are retaining a lot of salary, that opens up a lot more teams.
Very hard to say since I haven't been in the locker room in a while, but I wouldn't go thinking that his teammates don't like him. Again, how players are with the media and how we see them is very different from how players see them. Most of us probably have work colleagues who pout. That's what they're like. Does that mean you don't like them? In a work situation, we adapt to a lot of things, and if that person is really, really good at what he does, and that's good for you, you're willing to put up with a whole lot more. (I have first hand experience with this. If you want to see talented people pout, work for a newspaper.) Tarasenko playing well isn't just good for him, it's good for the whole team. Winning always helps. Now, there comes a point where someone is not worth the trouble. I don't know that Tarasenko is at that point. If he's still around when camp opens and is a major distraction, things could change. Does him asking for a trade, or criticizing the training staff, change how some see him? Probably. But they also know it's a business. But he's probably at that point with the front office.
I was looking through the CBA the other day for the specifics on this and couldn't find it, but if he's under contract and refuses to play, I think there's a way for the Blues to get cap relief on that. But I don't think it will come to that. Tarasenko has nothing to gain by doing that. It's not going to make the Blues trade him any faster.
Thomas is a tricky one. Lots of potential, flashes of brilliance, but never quite realized because of injuries. He's still proving himself, but he has shown he can play in the NHL. If you're willing to pay Barbashev $2.25 million, Thomas is worth more than that. He's better on both sides of the puck. Thomas has a ways to go until free agency, so they can go with a shorter deal in the $2.5 to $3 million range, I would think.
He does not. He wouldn't be a free agent until he plays seven seasons or turns 27.
The Blues have made him a qualifying offer. He'll make that. Or he doesn't play and doesn't get paid. His options are limited.
They see him as more of an asset than a liability. They think with coaching and with experience, he can eliminate the mistakes he makes. The issues are mental. Physically, he's talented. He gets sped up and makes bad plays some times. They think that can be dealt with. He's a very good defensive player. He is miscast by being put on top lines, but the Blues have been forced into it because of injuries.
Doug Armstrong has never bought out a player. It is not his style. Also, I believe the buyout window has passed.
That would be it. And for him to void his contract, he would be giving up $15 million.
Agreed. And as a kid, I played Phil and Tony Esposito Action Hockey. Was one of my first introductions to the sport.
I don't see Tarasenko staying, but if he did, how he would be used would be one of the most fascinating things to watch in the season.
Sports have shown themselves to be remarkably resilient over the years. Broadcasters and advertisers love them because they're the one thing people watch (mostly) in real time rather than on demand. That is why the most watched programs on television every year are sporting events. Sports will find a way. The only way they don't is if people give up on sports and I would bet against that.
Santini is the next guy up. I would think the Blues would look to sign another right-handed D for depth because they don't have any after that. Playing on the off side is not ideal, but plenty of players do it and survive. Bortuzzo has shown himself to be fairly sturdy over the years. He gets hurt, but he comes back.