All eyes on Barret Jackman
The off-season is always interesting for any NHL fan. Roster changes are inevitable in the NHL and this summer will be no exception. How drastic the turnover remains to be seen.
Here’s what we do know….
Tom Stillman is set to become the newest Owner of the Blues as soon as today. He has trust in Doug Armstrong to make hockey decisions but fans shouldn’t anticipate the budget expanding very much. They’ll certainly want to hang on to their own players but the idea of the Blues competing with high revenue teams for prized free agents is completely unrealistic.
The first order of business for Stillman will be to find smarter ways to run the business and look to trim as much fat off the books as he can. When the product is losing millions, you can’t run it as if it’s making money.
There isn’t a Terry Pegula or some billionaire coming in to rescue the franchise. The idea isn’t to lose money and Stillman will look to make the organization as sustainable as possible moving forward.
Even Bill Laurie got sick of losing millions and eventually got fed up and walked away.
You’re probably safe scratching Ryan Suter and Zach Parise off your free agent wish list. Both would fit in just fine in a Blues uniform and you never want to say never but signing either of these guys is a highly unlikely scenario.
We all know GM Doug Armstrong isn’t afraid to deal. In fact I think he likes making trades. So far the moves he’s made have worked and fans only hope that trend continues. This might be the summer we see Armstrong move one of his young core players. Whether or not Vladimir Tarasenko signs could play a role in this decision.
The Blues obviously have holes in their lineup and one can assume Armstrong will look to upgrade. In reality there is little to get excited about in the free agent market and finding a player via trade might be the best option. If the resources aren’t there financially to add impact players then finding way to be creative becomes an important alternative.
All eyes will be on Jackman over the next few months. He admittedly didn’t play well in the playoffs telling me he “wasn’t good enough.”
He’s played his entire career in St. Louis and has had some good moments including beating out Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash for the Calder trophy. For much of his career you can argue he was misused and would probably be more appreciated if he wasn’t asked to play such a prominent role. He’s best suited as a four or a five but has played a top four role nearly his entire career.
You can’t deny his toughness and his ability to play through injury. He’s loves the organization and being a St. Louis Blue means something to this guy.
Jackman tells me he wants to return and his decision won’t be about the money noting you can make more money elsewhere and still be unhappy.
With that being said, it might be in Jackman’s best interest to move on. He’s almost too comfortable in St. Louis and his play reflects this. He’s at his best when he plays with an edge a change of scenery might be the best for him personally and help extend his career.
People assume Jackman is much older than he is and at only 30 years of age he has the entire second half of his career ahead of him. This might be the approach Jackman should take, how many players stay with one organization their entire career?
Bryce Salvador and Chris Pronger are two players who wanted to stay but it worked out for both these guys just fine.
I expect the Blues to throw a lowball offer Jackman’s way sometime in the near future. It may not be about the money but you can’t cut yourself too short. When looking at the free agent list this summer it’s not unrealistic for Jackman to fetch $3.50-$4 million in July.
Plenty of money will be coming off the books…
One player unlikely to return is Jason Arnott. He wasn’t happy with being shutdown the last two games of the playoffs with a knee injury. Word is Arnott feels he could have played through the injury even though it was obviously affecting his game.
Once he was told he wasn’t playing Arnott stopped skating all together. Hard to blame him when you consider he has over 400 goals and 1,200 games on his resume. Do you really expect him to skate and get bagged with
There’s a chance he’ll need surgery to correct the issue.
The Blues have told Langenbrunner they’re open to bringing him back. Obviously there has to be a fit and he’d have to accept the role given to him. I wouldn’t expect his role to change much with any other NHL team and like Arnott he made a positive impact both on and off the ice. Langenbrunner was offered a two-year deal last summer but elected to sign for just one season.
I don’t expect the Blues to bring back Carlo Colaiacovo but you never know what can happen between now and July first. I would expect both Colaiacovo and Jackman to hear from Armstrong personally by the middle of June.
Scott Nichol came as advertised this season. He's gritty, a geat person and teammate, plus a reliable face off man. He knows and accepts his role and would accept a similar $600,000 contract to return. I don't see how it would hurt to bring this guy back. After a 109 point season there's little point in blowing things up. Nichol tells me his family likes St. Louis and he wants to come back.
David Backes checked himself into a St. Louis hospital late in the San Jose series to get checked out for what’s believed to be some abdominal pain. He says it didn’t impact his performance in the LA series.
Roman Polak could learn as soon as today whether or not he’ll need surgery to correct a shoulder he hurt in Game 4 of the LA series. He’s awaiting results of an MRI.
Ryan Reaves played the entire year with a shoulder injury he hurt in the pre-season. He’s not expected to need surgery and will train this summer in Winnipeg.
Oshie Banged Up…
Word is T.J. Oshie played with an injured wrist most of the season and may need to have it cleaned up. He also hurt his knee late in the Kings series.
Pietrangelo Won’t Need Surgery…
Alex Pietrangelo won’t need surgery to repair an MCL injury that kept him out of Game 2 of the Los Angeles series. He tells me he is experiencing no effects to his head and says he’s 100% above his shoulders.
Sweden and Czech Get the Heisman…
Alex Steen and Patrick Berglund turned down invites from Sweden, Polak did the same from the Czech Republic to play in the World Championships.
Jaden Schwartz will head home to train this summer where he’s worked with a Regina based trainer the last five years. He shares the same trainer with an number of pro players including Capitals forward Brooks Laich.
He’ll do some skill work with his brother Rylan who is expected to attend one or two NHL prospects camps this summer. Rylan is planning on returning to Colorado College for his senior season.
The Blues have indicated to Stewart they’d like to get something done. A trade is always possible even if both sides agree to a deal. Stewart has Arbitration rights and it’s a tool he could use this summer. I’ll have much more on this tomorrow.
Brett Hull will not be in attendance for the Tom Stillman press conference Thursday.
There’s a chance we see a change on the coaching staff. Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett’s contracts have expired and one of the two may not return. There’s a chance Shaw looks to explore other options.
Armstrong is meeting with the coaching staff today before heading out to the World Championships later this week. He's already layed the groundwork in getting Tarasenko signe and will be meeting with his agent at some point at the tournament.
More to come,
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