As you've all probably heard by now, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott were inked to one-year deals today by the Blues.
Now we can spend all summer debating if the signings are good or bad (I lean good), but, the fact of the matter is, the deals more than likely close the book on the Blues roster manipulations this summer. The holes have been plugged and the team should be set for next year.
While we don't know how anyone is going to perform next year, the signings at least offer a glimpse into what the Blues will look like next season. From my perspective, it looks like the team might finally try and play four competent lines and eliminate the enforcer. Let's break it down.
Right now, the Blues website lists 14 forwards on the roster. Arnott and Langenbrunner make 16. I don't know if you're aware of this, but that number is a bit too high. Only 12 forwards dress on a given night so four of the 16 won't be "regular" players—assuming everyone stays healthy and all that jazz.
One of my favorite things to do is play amateur coach and create line combinations. It's an inexact science, but basically what I try to do is think like a coach would think based off trends and such. I don't put B.J. Crombeen on the first line because I giggle at the name B.J.
So the first thing I did when I heard about the signings of Langenbrunner and Arnott was figure into where I think they may fit in. I came up with two conclusions. One: The Blues aren't counting on David Perron. Two: Cam Janssen's replacement isn't going to be Ryan Reaves, it's going to be Crombeen.
Here's how my lines look:
*Wild card candidates include: Phil McRae, Ryan Reaves, Scott Nichol and Chris Porter.
Those lines don't actually look too awful. The first line had great chemistry at the end of the season. The second line has Backes and McDonald together, which the Blues seem to do often. The RW spot could be Oshie's if he decides to step things up, but I plugged Langenbrunner into the spot because, well, I doubt he signed in St. Louis for fourth-line minutes. He could easily play on the third line.
Basically, the 11 forwards I have in the top 12 are all guys who are getting paid above the minimum. They're going to play. The Blues didn't sign D'Agostini to a two-year deal for him to sit in press boxes or play on the fourth line. Jason Arnott isn't going to play on the fourth line. The other guys, the wild cards, are the first line of defense in case of injury. Cracknell, Reaves, Porter and McRae will probably spend the bulk of the time riding the Peoria shuttle while the Blues battle injuries.
Which leads us to David Perron. Months and months have gone by since his concussion and he's still not cleared to work out. Perron is easily a top-9, possible top-6 guy, but he doesn't really fit in on this team. Sure, D'Ags could slide down to the fourth line and such, but it just doesn't really make sense. To me, bringing in Langenbrunner and Arnott means the Blues aren't expecting Perron back. They're trying to not get caught shorthanded.
If Perron does come back, the Blues just have more depth.
So there you have it: A quick and dirty look at what we might see take the ice next year. I'll tackle the defense later.
Tell me what you think? Am I way off? Should I stop writing about hockey forever? Do you like me better than Brad because I don't hate the Blues?