Late last season, Berube talked of the need for Tarasenko to go to the net, that's that where he would find goals, and Tarasenko started doing that. But it's clear he hadn't been going there before, because by the time Berube mentions something like that to us, you can be sure he's told the player about it a bunch of times. Past coaches have lauded Tarasenko's ability to score from distance, but Berube sees his game shifting, to getting more done inside.
You really like Zadorov, don't you? I don't think that return would be sufficient for the Blues. You're trading away two young potential franchise centerpieces in Paryako and Thomas. For as bad as Zadorov is offensively, he would need to be awesome defensively. He's not that good.
I like the offseason additions the Blues have made. I think it makes them a definite playoff team, even with the loss of a lot of talent in Schwartz and Hoffman and Dunn and eventually Tarasenko. I don't see how anyone could consider them in the bottom third of the league. Any playoff run in the Central will be complicated by having one of the best teams in the league, Colorado, in the same division. The Central Division also is a bit crowded. Not much separates a whole bunch of teams, so the margin for error will be slim. Injuries, or subpar performances by key players, could quickly change that. But if the team stays mostly healthy, they should make the playoffs. Getting past the second round is an entirely different matter.
Thanks for all that. I assume you mean the Norris, the award for defensemen, rather than the Selke, which goes to forwards. I don't know if there would be room to go too far beyond $7.5 million, though there is talk of the cap going up slightly next season. Parayko and Perron are the only big contracts that run out after this season, so that won't be as much space for Armstrong to work with. The market may force the Blues hands if Parayko has a repeat of the 18-19 season. I don't think $7.5 million is a wall Armstrong won't go over, though he has shown a preference for $6.5 million, the number Krug, Faulk and Schenn all got. He was prepared to go over $7.5 million for Pietrangelo. If Parayko has the kind of season you describe, that would be a negotiation the Blues wouldn't mind having.
I said potential centerpieces. Thomas could be the top center on this team going forward, but clearly he hasn't yet. And I have raised the possibility in earlier chats of Thomas being a piece that could be used in a big trade, because he has a lot of potential. Teams are going to be reluctant to trade a homegrown potential No. 1 center. That's a rare commodity, a hockey unicorn. But the clock is running on Thomas. He's young but he's also about to start his fourth season in the league.
I think his other numbers, his saves and his overall play, have gotten a good amount of attention. (Though moves elsewhere within the team have kind of overshadowed the goalie situation this offseason.) I think his lack of success in the postseason is the team's lack of success in the postseason. His play in the past two seasons has not been as good as his play in the Cup season. This is no big surprise, since his play in the Cup season was incredible and improving on that was going to be next to impossible. Unquestionably, the Blues need Binnington to play more like he did in 18-19. Playing better may not be possible, but playing like it is essential to the team's success. With the contract he got last season, the Blues are locked in to Binnington for a long time. There is no success without better play from him, though it's still a team game. Goalies shouldn't get all the credit or blame.
If he gets here, I think it's more likely via free agency. And I think there's a decent chance that happens at some point.
I can see them coming in second in the Central, but not a lot of points is going to separate teams 2 through 4. (A lot of points is probably going to separate teams 1 and 2.) A healthier Parayko, a healthier Sundqvist, an adjusted Krug should all contribute to the defense being better. And Buchnevich is a good defensive forward, so that will help too.
I think it's the case where the Blues are better off without him because the cap space is worth more to them than the player. Things will be uncomfortable with him around. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I don't think we're going to have a situation where teammates are wrestling with Tarasenko in the dressing room, but his presence, and the uncertainty of his future, is just going to have everyone on edge, wondering when the trade is going to happen. That's the one way he's a liability. Better to get it done now and get it out of the way.
Krug showed good progress at the end of the season, so I think that's a reasonable expectation. He actually ended up better offensively than he has played in other season, but wasn't as good defensively. A repeat of the Faulk jump would do the Blues well.
All right gang, that's it for this week. I'm floored by the turnout in a week when not a lot had happened. Three cheers for all of you! Until next time, thanks for your questions and your participation. It's much appreciated.