Reroute Back to Colaiacovo? Plus NHL Scoops!
Free agency might be the most exciting time of the year for hockey fans. It can also be a nervous time as teams look to add for the upcoming season and beyond.
For the St. Louis Blues they’re in good shape. You don’t see the glaring holes that you find with a number of other clubs which should allow GM Doug Armstrong to be patient. Fans can expect 95% of the roster to return next season which is more than most teams can say right about now.
There’s always a danger in signing unrestricted free agents. We see this every summer and this year will be no different. Whether it’s internal pressure or pressure from the fans, this is the time of year teams make mistakes.
There aren’t enough quality free agents to satisfy every NHL team. That’s especially the case this summer as you’ll have more than 20 teams chasing a handful of D-men. You’ll see teams get shutout on July first and then begin to panic. Before you know it they’re signing players they don’t even want on July 2nd. Is there a worse situation than to be locked into a long-term contract with a player by the end of October you don’t even like?
Again the Blues are in good shape. They are fine offensively and will sign a defenseman. We hear the names Ryan Suter, Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Filip Kuba, and so on. Suter would get paid regardless but each of these guys will reap the rewards of a thin market. Garrison and Carle will likely get stupid money simply because of how many teams are chasing so few players.
If Suter and Zach Parise don’t sign with their original clubs it will create a domino effect. Can the Nashville Predators expect Shea Weber to sign if they lose Suter? Sources say Weber won’t sign long-term if Suter leaves and David Poile can’t afford to lose both players for nothing. He may have no choice but to trade Weber. Being in Poile’s shoes is not a comfortable place right now.
There’s talk of the Flames trading jay Bouwmeester although sources close to the player tell me the Flames have yet to approach him about a trade. They can trade the player but who do they have on their roster to fill the 25 minutes left behind?
There’s seems to be some pressure applied to the Blues to do something major. The reality is this team is just in the beginning stages of learning what it takes to win. Los Angeles is a perfect example as they thought they were ready four years ago. Players like Quick, Doughty, Brown, and Kopitar figured things out while he team traded players like Brayden Schenn and Jack Johnson to bring in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. It’s a process that can’t be accomplished over night or in a few days in July. Pittsburgh won with veteran D-men and thought they could get by without. The result was them crashing pretty hard in the first round of the playoffs.
The Red wings are an interesting team to watch this July. They have some gaping holes on defense after losing Niklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. They also have a hole or two up front. On a positive they have money to spend but they need 5-6 players. They’ll certainly make a strong run at Ryan Suter but sources say they won’t be going hard after Zach Parise. The Blues are lucky not to be in their situation.
Don’t be shocked if the Blues re-route back to Carlo Colaiacovo. To this day Armstrong doesn’t know what the market for Colaiacovo will be but they see him as a guy who can play 20 minutes and fits in with their club. They also see him as a guy who’s better than 80% of the left shot D-men available. This is where you weigh your options. You can take a shot a signing a player long-term who you really don’t know or bring back a player you’re familiar with. I’m not suggesting Colaiacovo is a priority for Armstrong but if the market spirals out of control don’t be surprised if they turn back in his direction. This is certainly being discussed internally.
Matt Carle will be free come July 1. There's talk of him wanting to sign with Colorado where he played his college hockey. he'll have multiple options.
Chicago has serious interest in Wisconsin free agent Justin Schultz. Word is Schultz is in the process of narrowing down a list of a handful of teams. Toronto and Vancouver are expected to make the list with Edmonton a possibility as well.
Negotiations between Erik Johnson and Colorado are going smoothly.
San Jose has agreed to a one year, one way extension with center Andrew Desjardins that will be announced shortly.
Ottawa is having discussions on extending veteran Chris Neil who has a year left on his deal.
Nashville is doing the same with Mike Fisher.
Look for T.J Oshie’s salary to see a significant bump in the third year of his extension as they get into his UFA’s years. If he only signs a three year deal the third year could get him close to the $4 million mark. I expect the first two years to pay him between $3-$3.5.
As in the case of Perron, It will almost be treated as an arbitration case with both sides negotiating off the number they would take into arbitration. They will agree to a number somewhere in the middle.
With talk of the NHLPA saying they would be willing to start the season without an agreed CBA I asked the NHL how they felt about it. This is how they responded…”It’s not a model that has served this league particularly well in the past. If the parties have issues they need to be addressed, they should be addressing them in a timely way.”
I’m told the NHL has been ready to bargain since before Don Fehr was hired but the NHLPA pushed off the talks time and time again.
A league source also tells me “The league is in a good place on the revenue side. That doesn’t address every issue that is important to a successful sports league.”
We’re just getting started.
More to come,
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