Join Jim Thomas for a live Blues chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Join Jim Thomas for a live Blues chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday

Get your questions ready and join in at 1 p.m. Wednesday for our weekly Blues chat.

    Hello one and all, and welcome to this week's Blues chat. A happy Veterans day to all. Two of my sons are serving _ one on active duty and one now as a reserve, and I am very proud of them.
    On the hockey front, I think we're going to start to see some movement on return to play. There's a board of governors call tomorrow.
    Did any of you see my potential Blues protected list Monday? What do you think? I had Kyrou, O'Reilly, Perron Schwartz, Schenn, Tarasenko, Thomas at forward; Dunn, Krug, Parayko on defense. Binnington as goalie., 
    Talked to Berube yesterday, will have a story posted tonight. Talked to him about return to play, losing Petro, adding Krug.
    And now, on to your questions.
    Just a thought on the NHL bubble concept. If you break teams into 8 random groups of 4 (1 group would have 3) You could have 4 bubbles & rotate groups through. Each team would play 5 games (vs all 4 teams in the other group & 1 against your group) Then 1/2 the teams would relocate while others rested. You could play 2 -3 games in each bubble each day. The key again is bubble selection & logistics between bubbles. If you played all the other teams once that would get you 30 games & it could be done in 60-70 days if you can avoid 2 week travel quarentines. At the end of that the league decides whether to do a 2nd lap or whether you can get back to hockey at home with fans.
    It'll be interesting to see what they come up with. I have a hard time, though, seeing any U.S. teams playing in Canada as long as COVID is raging out of control. The Canadians don't want us crossing their border, or their teams going back and forth. The thing that worries me about realigned divisions is the fact that the Blues could end up out West with San Jose, LA Kings, Anaheim, Colorado, Vegas (and, I presume Dallas). That would mean more time on a plane, which I would think increases the chances of COVID. I think four bubbles is the way the league would go _ at least that looks like the direction right now. And there's a chance the teams only play the teams in their bubble. For an 8-team bubble that could be a 56-game schedule _ play each other 7 times. For the one 7-team bubble, maybe it's 54 games _ you play the other six teams nine times.
    Sentiment aside, business is business. Army can see the long range damage of bad contracts by observing the plight of the Cardinals. That said, is it time to examine the logic of holding fast to Tarasenko with chronic shoulder issues. With the salary cap what it is and the long range benefit of freeing up some serious cash and the risky business of hoping he regains his old form, might it be time to move on? Love Vladimir, but can't score if you're not on the ice. Thank you!
    An interesting question. I think you have to at least give Tarasenko this season, to see how he comes out of this latest surgery. But what was once unthinkable may be in the back of Armstrong's mind. Worst-case scenario though. If Tarasenko has more shoulder issues, his trade value would seem to be very limited. Would you consider putting him on the expansion list next offseason.
    Afternoon JT. I know were only a few months removed from the Blues last action, but already getting that itch to watch some hockey (in whatever form it may take). Is the word on the street still a start some time in January?
    In talking to Berube on Tuesday, he doesn't think the season necessarily will start in early January _ remember, Jan. 1 remains the target date. But as of right now he thinks it's possible that camp could start in early January, which isn't all that far away. And yes, I too am getting the itch.
    Any more update on Steen's injury. At first it did not seem that bad, but the last reports appears that he may be out for some time.
    Alas, I have no details. But the last time I spoke with Doug Armstrong, which was a little more than a week ago, he made it sound like a fait accompli that Steen would begin the season on long-term injured reserve.
    Did Armstrong make any reference that retirement was on the table or is Steener adamant about coming back for one more season.
    Armstrong did not mention retirement. The last time I broached the subject with Steen was right before he reached his 1,000-game milestone in February. At that time he said he wanted to keep playing beyond the 2019-20 season. I have no idea of anything that happened since then that may have changed his mind.
    Any update on Dunn's contract situation? What is your guess on the terms?
    Status quo. Again, Blues don't seem to be concerned or worried. Armstrong and Berube continue to tell me he fits into their plans. As of today, there are 37 restricted free agents who remain unsigned throughout the NHL according to the always reliable Capfriendly.com. By the way, that list of 37 RFAs also includes Blues defenseman Jake Walman who remains on the team's radar as a prospect. (He played in one game with the "varsity" last season you may recall/) I'm going to guess Dunn comes in at somewhere between $1.5 million and $2 million, which would at least double his 2019-20 salary of $750K.
    Hey Jimmy, how is Schwartz holding up after his father's sudden passing? He has been through a lot with his family. I imagine this is a very difficult time for him.
    Obviously a tough time. I think his dad was only 59. Armstrong said on NHL Network that Brayden Schenn has headed to Saskatoon to be with Jaden and the family. Other Blues are heading there as well, although COVID makes travel difficult, especially across international borders. Apparently, Alexander Steen helped arrange transportation home for Schwartz's brother, who has been playing in Germany.
    Hello JT: Do you think the rules for the Kraken's expansion draft are too generous? I remember when an expansion team was only given the bottom of the barrel to choose from (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and, dog gone it, we liked it! It took the Bucs like 2 years to finally win a game! Nowadays, they are giving the keys to the kingdom and the Vegas Knights were nearly Stanley Cup contenders in year one! Seems they should have given teams a few more spots to protect to me.
    Yeah, very generous terms for Vegas and now Seattle. Certainly different from days gone by. But as Armstrong told me: "For $600 million, you should get some good players." (That's the expansion fee.)
    Are we being too optimistic that there's going to be a season at all? My understanding of the new CBA is that the players are guaranteed 70% of their salaries this year after accounting for what they agreed to defer (10%) and the cap on escrow (20%). I saw an article within the last week which indicated the players would not be quick to negotiate off of that amount. Without at least some fans in attendance, (most) owners would lose a lot of money, and it's not like there were lavish profits floating around for most teams even in the good times. Everyone has ideas about different bubble concepts that could be used, but that's the easy part. The bigger issue is that for most teams the economics do not make sense without fans in attendance. Are you hearing this from around the league and should we be braced for the possibility that there's a viable plan for a return to play format, but money gets in the way?
    Yes, it's about 72 percent. The league wants to play and will probably play.. But I know there are some who feel it's not a sure thing it will happen, what with the COVID situation. I believe ESPN even reported that a few owners don't think the league should play at all  this season. Now with the apparent breakthrough on a vaccine, perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel feeling. I guess there's a possibility, the vaccine will be available sometime in the first quarter of the New Year and that that could allow at least some fans in the stands.
    What do you think about the new reverse jerseys? I know everyone is hating on them but I just love to get new hockey jerseys to be honest.
    I'm not big into uniforms and uniform styles. But if it's the uniform that someone showed on social media the other day _ with all that red _ I'm definitely thumbs down. They are,after all, the Blues.. Not the Reds.
    What do you think will be the biggest questions (aside from COVID) for the Blues in terms of competing for the Cup again next season?
  • 1.) Goaltending
    Can Binnington return to form after that awful performance in Edmonton? And can Husso get the job done as the backup, keeping in mind that with the anticipation of a more condensed schedule, the backup may see more work.
    2.) Defense
    The Blues have lost two very capable defenders in Pietrangelo (free agency) and Bouwmeester (retirement). Can they be as stingy defensively with Krug and a full season of Scandella?
    3.) Goal-scoring
    The Blues did very well offensiively without Tarasenko in the lineup for the last 61 regular-season games last season as several players posted career or near-career highs in goals. Can they do it again, with Tarasenko expected to miss another big chunk of games?
  • Do you anticipate Kyle Clifford is a regular on the 4th line while Steen is out, or do you see that as a spot that's open for competition? I'd like to see Kostin get a fair shot on the 4th line with Sundquist and Barbashev. Do Berube and Armstrong see that as a potential spot for Kostin or are they looking at him as a top 9 or bust guy?
  • Once again, I think Kostin will have a tough time making the opening-day roster, barring injury. He needs a very good camp, and chances are it could be a shorter camp than usual, meaning fewer opportunities to impress the brass. I do think Clifford opens on the fourth line with Barbashev and Sundqviist.
  • I think there will be much less side deals (trade player X to not take player Y) with Seattle. The other 30 GMs have seen enough firsthand with Vegas to (hopefully) not make that mistake twice.
    I believe you're right. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice. . . .
    I really hope that rumors are not true the Blues are going Red. The 90's Red / Blue jersey was horrendous and should have put away never to be worn again
    I know I’m in the minority on this one but I think we got the best and most productive years out of Schwartz. I think we need to use that money and go get a younger less injury prone player. What do you think the organization will do next year?
    Obviously, a lot depends on what Schwartz is looking for. But if his play doesn't fall off markedly, I think the Blues will try to bring him back. He's only 28, so he should have several good years left. Steen and Bozak both have expiring contracts, so that could create room for younger players to get in the lineup. Also, Schwartz played in all 71 games last season.as well as all nine games in the Edmonton bubble.
    Mr. Thomas,
    I think your protected list for the Seattle draft is a good one, and one that is probably pretty similar to what the Blues will do. It made me suddenly realize that Scandella is a likely pick. I know a lot of fans wouldn't mind seeing Faulk gone via the expansion draft, but unless he plays much better, why would Seattle choose him? Main point- the Blues are going to lose a good player that they'd rather keep.
    Yes they will, but only one player. So using my list as an example. If Faulk gets taken, that means Scandella and Mikkola (who is eligible for the expansion draft) stay with the Blues as do all of the forwards.
    Any idea of the 'take' that each of the 31 teams get from Seattle's $600M expansion fee? That ought to take away a little of the pain of lost revenue from Covid.
  • Actually, the expansion fee is $650 million (not the $600 million as stated by Armstrong). In any event, the fee is split between 30 other teams (Vegas does not get a share.) so $650 million divided by 30 comes out to about $21.67 million per team. Yes, a pretty good consolation prize.
  • Mr. Thomas,
    Do you think a really strong season from Faulk would move him onto the protected list? If so, who comes off? I think Parayko is untouchable, so maybe Dunn with the hope that Perunovich can mature into that role soon?
    I definitely see your scenario as a possibility. Faulk steps into his a defined role in the top 4 and flourishes. Dunn struggles. Faulk gets protected.
    Mr. Thomas,
    I think the concerns about Binnington might be a little premature. We all need to remember that before the shutdown in March, he was actually having a pretty solid season. Yes, he was awful in the bubble, but so was the rest of the team for the most part. Terrible play from the skaters can go a long way toward making a goalie look bad. I'm optimistic he will be fine. I'm not so sure on Husso, though.
    I have no argument with your take at all. As bad as Binnington was in Edmonton, it was only a handful of games. It was under totally strange circumstances, and you're right, he got less than stellar support around him. I also think that Binnington will bounce back. Even so, I still think the overall goaltending situation (with no Allen) probably rates as the team's top question mark entering the season.
    Good afternoon, Jim. I know the Blues have a decent chunk of money coming off the books next off-season, but with Schwartz, Binnington as UFAs and Thomas (curious what his new deal looks like), Sanford and Barbashev as RFAs, does that leave enough money for the Blues to play with? And do you think it's important the Blues find guys on ELCs who can make an impact sooner to sort of keep the cap hit lower? Thanks!
    Right now, based on the Blues' contract commitments for the 2020-21 season, the Blues are scheduled to have $25.6 million of cap space (with 14 players under contract). I think the market will be depressed once again as the NHL digs its way out of COVID. So let's say you bring back Binnington for $6.5M a year _ he's making $4.4 on the current contract. Schwartz comes back at $5.5 million _ he's currently making $5.35 million. Those two are both scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
    As for your restricted free agents, you have Sanford, Barbashev, Thomas and Kyrou. Sanford and Barbashev will be arbitration eligible. Let's say they come in at $2 million apiece _ that's roughly a $500K raise for both. Thomas is NOT arbitration eligible. Let's say he comes in at $2.5 million (That's almost 3 times his current $894K). Let's say Kyrou comes in at $1.25M. That's a $500K raise. He is NOT arbitration eligible. Add all that up and it leaves you with 20 players under contract and $5.75 million of cap space. And that should leave enough money to fill out the roster, be it with Mikkola, Kostin and Perunovich. Or maybe you bring back de la Rose. Or want to bring back Gunnarsson.
    As you've probably noticed, not heavy flow of questions today, which is totally understandable. But the decks are clear, so if you have anything on your mind, now's the chance.
Powered by Platform for Live Reporting, Events, and Social Engagement