We are approaching trade season in the NHL and concerns involving the Blues production have certainly been an issue throughout the season. The Blues believe they are in the place they should be, yet they are not performing up to the expectations of many. The Blues have a bunch of upcoming free agents to worry about in the upcoming offseason. This makes it more difficult as it seems to be that we are hoping to be in the playoffs, but not expected at all to be cup winners this year. So the question is what helps the organization long-term because short term is looking less important again? Here is a link to free agents for the Blues this coming offseason.... http://www.nhlnumbers.com/freeagents.php?team=STL&pos=none&summer=none&status=none.
After discussing this with a close friend and incredible Blues fan, we have decided that the Blues are going to have to pay (hopefully not overpay) Johnson, Perron, and Steen for sure. Colaiacovo needs to be seriously considered for an extension unless he is somehow worth much more in a trade situation (personally I think he would be valuable on this Blues team for the next few years). Kariya should be allowed to go into free agency unless he is willing to take a Tkachuk like paycut (even then I am not entirely convinced that he should remain a Blue). Tkachuk should retire (he will be missed and respected as a Blue). Winchester is going to have to do extremely better to get an offer from this Blues team with Eller and Sonne waiting in the wings. Sydor and Armstrong don't need to be here. Sorry DJ, Cam gave us the heartfelt article about how he loves us, (DJ should have thought about doing that sooner) he will only get an offer as a 2 way in case janssen gets hurt or denies us a generous hometown discount.
Now comes the difficult part. How much does the management believe in Junland and what is he worth? I still don't think I have been allowed to see him enough to make an educated decision. Strachan seems solid in my opinion and should be given an offer to stay, even if it has to be a 2 way deal. I am not sure the Blues organization shares my sentiments on Strachan. Weaver continues to be solid enough to stay, but do we have too much upcoming talent to keep him? I think we keep him, just don't know if he plays-ask Sydor how that works. I think Stastny has had enough opportunities to make the club and will either try to get picked up by another team or he is just willing to settle as the captain of Peoria. I think he is expendable, we missed out on the good Stastny.
Finally, my biggest concern of all....Chris "The Mad-Beard" Mason. There seems to be a pool of potential starters coming into free agency this offseason, but not one real proven goalie worth anything. Perhaps Halak, Harding, or Niemi, but that seems to be the only goalies I would really care to see in a Blues jersey. Still I think that is a needle in a haystack situation that could result in the next Craig Anderson, (who I thought we should have picked up in the offseason last year) or we end up with the next Vesa Toskala. The year of free agency in 2011 appears even more bleak. Mason is 33 years old, has done very well for us considering he is still trying to prove he can carry a team, but the fact is.....he is NOT elite. We would have to trade for an elite goalie in his prime just to get Bishop or Allen enough time to prove that they can make it at the NHL level. I am not thinking the organization is gutsy enough to make a move of that caliber for a goalie.
The Blues need scoring, so they say. Only Kovalchuk is mentioned to be available and fits the kind of scoring prowess I think the Blues lack. The Blues are waiting for young D-men 4 years away from their prime to become number 1 dmen (though I think Jackman gets one or two more years of leeway to prove himself). I do think Jackman will be a great shutdown dman, but never a powerplay quarterback. Souray wants out of Edmonton, but I didn't realize how old he was and honestly only has two seasons of stellar offensive output. However, I would consider losing some picks or Kariya's for a player like that. A top PP d-line of Johnson and Souray sounds fine to me until Pietr can take his place in that role. Souray's powerplay ability might also jumpstart the rest of our offensive goal scorers by making the opposition really worry about our point. Let's consider a 3 year deal to Souray, I think that gives Pietr enough time to grow and gives Cole appropriate time to turn into the Pietr we will see next year. Then we have to pay Pietr and let go of Souray who is close to retirement age.
These are my thoughts on the nearing trade deadline and what we should do about our upcoming offseason. I offer open discussion about these issues because they fuel my love for the Blues and hockey overall. I want the best for the Blues in the long and short term, but I still want to see a management willing to do something to make this team elite. Maybe Vokoun is pickable from Florida and we can put our decent upcoming Dmen around him until Allen or Bishop get up here. Let's here it from the fans, LET'S GO BLUES!