I just read the article about the "Free Pass Deadline". It is pretty much spot on. I have been a Blues fan since I was 3 years old and the arena was locked down in order for security to look for a little kid that wandered away from his dad, went by himself on the escalator, and found his way to his seats to watch the Blues beat the Blackhawks in the first game he had ever been to. What can I say, I have been a die hard hockey fan since the day I was given the chance to be. My mom still tells me to this day one of my first sentences was "Secord Sucks". I am and always will be a fan.
This having been said, I would like to present some of my concerns for the re-rebuilding this off-season. Sure, we are going to have all kinds of "money" to spend this summer because of the salary dumps known as Brewer, Boyes, and Johnson. I think those were good trades to say the least. However, the obvious presents itself. No solid ownership group that wants to spend any kind of money on the St. Louis Blues. This is stupid. We once had an ownership group that overpaid for Brewer, Boyes, and Kariya just to get people in the seats with some "big names". This is no longer that time. A smart ownership group would jump in and pay for real "big names" to step in and bring some much needed victories to this city.
Unfortunately, I don't know if anyone has taken a gander at this upcoming season's ufa list, but it is thin. Realistically speaking, the only player worth a damn is Brad Richards. I can't see him wanting to come to St. Louis. Everyone else is old and past their prime, but will still get paid by Toronto or Edmonton. Possibly even Florida. Markov is going to be available I think, but do we really need more defense on this team? I think the current D core is good enough with the potential to get better with Pietr growing into his role nicely. Shattner should be a pretty decent scoring dman in the near future as well.
We have the money to overpay the players going into restricted free agency next year. Polak will be overpaid. Oshie and Bergs will get overpaid. So on and so on. 2-3 mil a piece I am thinking for guys who have, for one reason or another (injuries), can't put up consistent scoring seasons and who will never put in over 30 goals. That being said, Stewart and Backes have the chance to do just that and Perron will eventually net 40 goals if he ever gets motivated and stays healthy. I just don't want to rely on Andy Mac and Oshie for goal scoring. I love both those guys and think they are incredibly talented, but they are good playmakers. Oshie is good for 25-30 goals if he ever picks his moments instead of trying to do it all by himself. And to be fair, he has tried to do it all himself because no one else seems to want to play that hard. Not a knock on Oshie, in fact it is great to see that kind of attitude, it just shouldn't be necessary for him to play like that every night.
Who knows how Tarasenko will be in the NHL, I am hoping for the next Russian Rocket with a few more years of active playing than the last one. Honestly though, I am guessing he plays the third line and nets 15 goals next year. Right at the Dags line. Lehtera is still an unknown, but could be good. But are any one of our prospects natural goal scorers with the ability to finish? No idea, and that is a problem. We need to get some players that are actually good. A top line of forwards. We are not going to get those kinds of players with the guys coming into free agency this summer, unless we spend on RFA's that are willing to come to a team that is known to younger players as a "hard working" team that "underachieves".
I still have faith in Halak, he plays as well as his defense clears out his rebounds. When the D is sharp, he is sharp. When we play too many AHLers, he lets in a lot of second chance goals. Weird right? Nikitin is going to be the offensive threat version of Polak. Jackman is overpaid for what he does, but he does what he does very well. Maybe a 3-4 mil a year shutdown tough dman, but unless he is getting 20-30 points a year, not worth what he is paid.
In the end, if the "Free Pass Deadline" is going to happen successfully, the Blues are going to need to pay for some "in the prime" RFA's that are willing to play for the Blues. Draft picks have to be high and ready to play (no first rounder in this draft or possibly the next one, but I am worried about the talent pool in this year's draft as it is and we may get stuck with a high pick that needs development years). I would love to think that the first round pick we sent away for Stewart will not be needed in the 2012 draft, but I have my doubts. I want this team to do well so badly. I will never call the Blues the Cubs of hockey like my broken uncle has done for years now (he got decimated by the heartbreak year after year).
I am and always will be your Blues fan, but let's see some hard work by the front office that pays off.