Lesson number one when covering the National Hockey League, take everything you read and hear out of Russia with a grain of salt.
The latest regarding Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko and him showing up to the World Championships a little beefy.
Sources close to Tarasenko tell me he might be out of shape but certainly not to bulk up for the NHL. There’s a reason why he’s nicknamed the “tank” and it isn’t because he’s slim by nature. We’ve seen this drill out of Russia before, can’t control the player so why not ostracize him.
Tarasenko has a bigger build similar to Anton Volchenkov or Roman Polak and if he goes about his training the right way he could be a monster. If the Blues are successful in signing him they’re likely to get him on their strength program immediately.
I’m told Tarasenko was expected to meet with his representatives on Wednesday to discuss all of his options. Sources say as of Tuesday nothing is imminent.
There’s no question the Blues will have their eye on a third line center this summer. How good would the Kings’ Jarret Stoll look in a Blues uniform? This guy’s been solid in the playoffs and is playing out the final year of a 4-year, $14.4 million contract. He made $3.6 million this past season while scoring only 6 goals and 15 assists but he’s proving he has lots of quality hockey left. The Blues can’t afford to pay a third line center $3.6 million but if his number were to drop I would expect St. Louis to show some level of interest.
Bruins center Chris Kelly wouldn’t be too shabby either. He’s likely expecting a raise from his $2.125 salary after scoring a career best 20 goals this season. He was a big part of Boston’s Stanley Cup winning team last spring.
The Blues will want to beef up on the left side of their defense but there really isn’t a whole lot to choose from in the free agent market.
This is why I wouldn’t rule out either Barret Jackman or Carlo Colaiacovo returning next season. Colaiacovo would be the cheaper alternative as Jackman will fetch $3-$4 million in free agency.
Moving on might be in the best interest of Jackman’s career. A change of scenery could lead to him playing with the intensity and the aggressive style of play we saw early in his career. It’s easy to get comfortable when you stay in one place for over ten years.
Players like Matt Carle are probably out of the Blues price range, same can probably be said for Brad Stuart.
The Blues could still look at trade scenarios as a way to improve the roster.
I don’t see St. Louis trading David Perron as many have suggested.
Why would the Blues trade away their most skilled player? His value isn’t nearly as high today as it could be down the road.
Perron didn’t have a good playoff series against LA but then again who did? The last thing Doug Armstrong will look to do is blow it all up. Let this guy play a full year and put up real offensive numbers before deciding what to do with him moving forward.
As I’ve stated before, I expect the team to try and re-sign both Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol.
Nichol is a pretty good player to have around for $600,000 and at this stage of his career he’s just wants to keep playing.
There's no question Jaden Schwartz is a big part of the Blues future and will be a very good NHL player for years to come. With that being said he knows he needs to get stronger and could maybe even improve his skating. He'll be working this summer with a power skating instructor in an effort to improve his overall package. Don't completely rule out the idea of Schwartz possibly beginning next season in Peoria for at least the first handful of games. The Blues did this with David Backes a few years ago and it worked out ok.
T.J. Oshie really made a statement this season with how he handled himself both on and off the ice. He’s a great teammate and put up career highs in goals and points. Will that result in the long-term contract he’s looking for? It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations play out.
Any news on the coaching staff heading into next season will likely wait until after Armstrong returns from the World Championships. There have been some rumblings of Brad Shaw being interested in the Binghamton Senators job which could make sense considering his ties to the Ottawa organization. Word is Luke Richardson is also interested in the opening.
I’ll have more on Chris Stewart soon.
More to come,