Archive for Blues Hockey

Time For The Fireworks

Posted in Sports, St. Louis Blues, Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 30, 2011 by Travis Green

The heat of summer is upon us, Lord Stanley’s Cup has been lifted, and Independence day is almost here.

And for many NHL teams tomorrow the fireworks will start early.

July 1st is the official opening of NHL free agency, and team will look to start off with a bang! Last 46 signing were made on the first of July, some resigning with their team of the past season, such as Alex Steen did with the Blues, and others high tailing it out-of-town in search for green pastures, such as Olli Jokinen moving from Calgary to New York.

This year I don’t expect to see as much action, however I see the Blues being a bit more active than last year.

I know this may seem a little crazy especially with recent reports of a dull market, and the franchise being for sale, but look for the Blues to see a few situations they like and go after them.

With the blue note only losing a few players from last year, mainly Ty Conklin, Cam Janssen and possibly Matt D’ Agostini if he chooses to play hockey elsewhere, it may seem as if the Blues don’t have a lot of holes to fill. However, you add in the loss of Winchester and Boyes to trades last season, the Blues have more holes to fill.

Players such as Scatchard, Cracknell, and Porter are not everyday players as they were forced to be last year, especially towards the end. So the Blues will look fill those voids.

Does that mean players such as Brad Richards, a trade for Zach Parise, or another high valued player is in the cards for the Blues? No, not even close, but the note will be looking for diamonds in the rough like they have found before with D’ Agostini.

Matt D' Agostini will hit the open market Friday.

Assessing the Blues is a tough task, as it has been for the last few years. The questions you must ask include: Is David Backes that elite forward, and presence that can score you 25-30 goals? Can T.J. Oshie be a second line contributor? Is Andy McDonald going to play like he did last year, and cease all the worries that have haunted him for years? Chris Stewart is he for real? Will we see the return of a healthy David Perron?

Those are just a few of the offensive questions, not counting a young defensive core, and a goalie who’s inconsistencies hurt him last year.

As decipher through the questions it leaves me with a few conclusions, the Blues will add at least one middle of the road offensive player with a nice ceiling, they will look but not quickly and actively pursue a defenseman. And finally the Blues will talk to some agents for a few NHL goaltenders.

The Blues have to find something on the offense, with the arrival of Stewart the Blues offense soared at the end of last season, but they still need a guy who can put the puck in the net around 20 times a year, especially if Dags is gone. They will have guys such as Phillip McRae and Evgeny Grachev competing for a spot on the roster but for management to expect that kind of production from those players would be foolish.

A few names to look for on the offensive side:
Ville Leino – He may be a bit of a hot commodity, especially with the down market. Don’t know what kind of deal his agent is looking for so it may be a long shot for the Blues, but I love his grit and determination to get to the net, and put the puck where it belongs.

Michael Ryder – Another possible long shot, but he is someone who could jump on the ice and fill in the number two-line. Would be a perfect replacement for Perron, if you are without him for a while. Plus brings that veteran leadership, and Stanley Cup presence to the team.

Andrew Burnette – This is a very realistic choice. He brings a veteran leadership to the team, a very smart player who can put the puck in the back of the net and find the stick of other players. A good second or third liner.

Tyler Kennedy – The Penguins are continuing to work on a deal with Kennedy, but I could see Kennedy being a player that would like to see more ice time, and the Blues have that for him here. Last year Kennedy saw more ice with the Malkin and Crosby injuries, and he put up some respectable numbers with 21 goals and 24 assists.

Ville Leino I believe would be one of the best options for the Blues

Those are some of the big candidates I see the Blues making a run after, a few honorable mentions are Chris Higgins, Michal Handzus, and the Doug Armstrong connection to Jamie Langenbrunner.

Notice there is no Thomas Fleishmann on there, and that is because his stock much like Leino’s stock is rising, and I believe he will sign a lucrative deal elsewhere.

As for D-men, I am not as sold on the fact that the Blues need a defenseman on this team. As I look at the roster the Blues already have seven legitimate contenders for six defensive slots, adding a veteran to the mix would be cheating guys like Nikita Nikitin and Ian Cole out of a chance. Unless the Blues are looking for another Darryl Sydor type signing. Names being bantered about are Jan Hedja, Steve Montador, or even Andreas Lilja.

Goaltending is the interesting topic. Many thought with the departure of Ty Conklin the Blues would hand the job to Ben Bishop, but in the last previous days and weeks that has become less obvious. I see the Blues pursuing a goaltender to help backup and possibly start in case of an injury or mishaps by starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak. So with that being said many like the possibility of a Josh Harding, but I believe he is headed to a place in need of a goalie split. Two goalies I see as legit contenders for the backup job Mathieu Garon, and my gut feeling Mike Smith.

As many begin to wind up their work week and get ready for an extended weekend with fireworks, NHL GMs will be working their free night

s and weekend minutes up as they look to set off a few fireworks of their own.

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