Editor's Note: The Blues have quite a few UFAs whose futures need close examination. This is an ongoing pro/con debate on the fates of each of them.
Next up in our on going series is defensemen Chris Butler, a St. Louis native who would love nothing more than to help bring a Cup to St. Lou. As with the other players we have looked at recently, Butler is another low cost player with the potential to be a big part of what the Blues look like going forward.
Butler's career has not been stellar but it has been solid and steady. in 382 games played with Buffalo, Calgary and now the Blues, Chris has 13 goals and 71 assists which are not super star numbers but are more worthy of a third pair d-man which is what St. Louis needs. While his career minus 30 rating leaves one to wonder how good he actually is, look at the teams he has been on.
In Buffalo, he was very solid posting a combined +4 rating in three seasons on a team that was near the top of their division each year. He then was dealt to a rebuilding Calgary team where he was forced into a more significant role against higher quality players and his numbers suffered because of that. Over his three year tenure with Calgary his production stayed consistent but his defensive numbers plummeted. It wasn't until he was brought back into a system that fit his style that his play returned to its correct form.
Butler is never going to be a number one defensemen but if he is put into the right spot, like a third d-pairing then he can thrive and be a piece to the puzzle. When he has played on winning teams his plus/minus rating is very reasonable and his points will follow. This past year he set a career high with three goals which isn't saying much but as a part time third pairing player it shows he can still produce in limited action. Oh yeah and he has some soft hands as evident by his first goal as a Blue.
If his salary stays in line with what he played for last year it could really benefit the Blues as they seek to resign higher profile and higher priced players. Leaving room to sign those guys while still plugging the holes they have with a solid player who can hold the fort until the youth settles in may be their best option. Chris also plays statistically better at home in his career posting a line of 183 games, 5 goals and 38 assists with a +3 rating. Imagine how much better he can get playing in his home time more consistently.
Its hard to argue for or against a guy who hasn't had much time to show what he is capable of, but if you can set aside that his stats aren't earth moving and look at how cheap he may be to retain you can make the argument look at least palatable. If you are not going to resign Jackman because he costs to much then your not bringing back Michalek either, which leaves two spots to fill. Lock in Butler and Bortuzzo and rotate them with Lindbohm and you are set for next season.