There’s a scene near the midway part of Martin Scorsese’s Color of Money where Vince (Tom Cruise) heads to a pool hall without his mentor, “Fast Eddie” Felson. He sits to the side and waits for a guy to finish his game. That guy comes over to Vince, sees the case resting on his lap, and kindly asks: “what’s in the box?” Vince’s reply is simple and blunt: “doom.”
The St. Louis Blues need a little doom on their team if they want to taste Stanley Cup glory anytime soon, or during Vladimir Tarasenko’s prime.
I’ll admit it wasn’t easy to watch the Washington Capitals, including Ex-Blue T.J. Oshie, drown (literally, Oshie waterboarded himself with a Bud Light at one point) themselves in Lord Stanley Cup glory the past week. While I was happy for Alexander Ovechkin and Oshie and a passionate city of hockey fanatics, I did what every Blues fan and scribe does each June: think about what kind of sunblock I’d put on during a Cup parade down Clark Avenue.
Making a strong push for John Tavares would be a great start to re-calibrating this team for a Cup run. He’s the definition of doom in a free agent class that has a few flavors that may work with what the Blues and Doug Armstrong are trying to cook up. Tavares is the gem in the group and someone who could bolster the lineup instantly and place St. Louis in a league of their own, nudging right up against Nashville.
Is this a no brainer move? Sure, but we are talking about Armstrong, who would fall on Patrik Bergund’s legacy as Blue like a general would collapse on a grenade. Something needs to change and a Tavares signing would ignite that in a heartbeat.
Here’s the thing: I want to know what Armstrong’s plan is going forward. What’s the deal, dude? Are we riding prospects to the heartland again or will there be a franchise altering trade or signing that shifts the ground beneath the legion of third liner Blues? Tavares would answer that question quickly. Armstrong would be like Mel Gibson at the end of Maverick dropping that ace of spades on the deck for the last word.
While the future of Jake Allen is a hot topic around St. Louis, the team has struggled to score goals the past few-or many, many-seasons. They always come up short in that department and it has stung them hard, especially in this past season’s finale against Colorado. The Blues managed two goals and were a ghost after Vladimir Tarasenko left the ice due to a shoulder separation. They need more firepower and waiting to see crops grow may not work.
For those wondering, Tarasenko is doom, but he can’t do it by himself. Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz had great seasons, but combined, the trio wasn’t enough. Let’s not place the savior tag around the fragile knee of Robby Fabbri upon his return either. Think about Tarasenko playing with Tavares and try not to get a little excited. Schenn could center a second line and all of a sudden the Blues are a deeper, more deadly team.
I got news for you, folks. Tage Thompson and Robert Thomas aren’t leading the team to the Cup Finals in 2018-19. Or 2019-2020. Their rise will take time and by the time their value does cash in, Tarasenko may be a different player or past his prime. There are no guarantees. Except for Tavares.
He’s turning 28 in September and put up 37 goals last year for the New York Islanders. The lowest amount of goals he’s produced in a season was 24 in 59 games back in 2014. Tavares put up 30 power play points last year, doesn’t take stupid penalties, and has taken at least 257 shots in each of the past four seasons. Placing him on the Blues would make this team relentless on other teams.
You know how a hockey team overcomes average goaltending? Score more goals. In order do that, you need to gather as many studs as possible. Tavares is a young, durable scorer who would elevate the Blues.
Here’s another thing: you could keep all the young guns by signing Tavares instead of trading for Mike Hoffman, who may try hitting on or assaulting Tarasenko’s wife.
It all comes down to money. Can the Blues afford it? Probably not, but that’s what makes other people a General Manager and not this bald-and often bull-headed writer. The Blues shed the Paul Stastny contract, but would have to shed another player or two to make Tavares fit. The guy will be looking for a raise from his annual $5.5 million that has went into his account the past six years.
According to Cap Friendly, the Blues have $12.9 million in cap space at the moment, with fourth line regulars such as Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak and youngsters Dmitrj Jaskin and underrated defensemen like Joel Edmundson unsigned. However, only Upshall, Brodziak, and goaltender Carter Hutton are unrestricted free agents.
The Blues could bring in Tavares, but it would result in the departure of valuable fourth liners, overvalued youngsters, and a goalie who may want to cash in on a great season. In other words, make a move, Armstrong.
Will Tavares want to come here? Again, probably not. There will surely be more lucrative options out there for the hottest commodity on the open market. It isn’t like the Blues are toxic news to other players. Giancarlo Stanton can’t play hockey and there have been no reported situations where players said St. Louis sucks and isn’t desirable. If you pay a guy, he’ll come. Simple as that.
There may be some worth to playing with Tarasenko during his prime, even if they have to work out the whole “we both wear #91” thing. Tavares may also love a challenge. Along with every St. Louis Blues fan, the free agent center saw Washington fans rejoice in their first ever Stanley Cup. What if Tavares rode in through the Arch and brought the sport’s top trophy to the town? He’d be a hero and could hang up his jersey afterwards.
It’s not plausible and probably wont happen, but Doug Armstrong and the Blues need to put their money where their mouth is and launch the Enterprise Center in style.
Make an offer. Show interest. Prove to the fans that their time isn’t being wasted and that heartbreak can end. And for once, have a first round draft pick be worth a damn in your arena.
If he says no, tip your cap and get to work on other options. Please, though, at least try. As Han Solo would say, never tell me the odds. Just do it.
That’s all I got. Thanks for reading.