If Blues fans were expecting Doug Armstrong to make a splash on the first day of free agency, they may have been disappointed. If fans were waiting for the fates of Mike Hoffman and Jaden Schwartz, they also were probably disappointed.
The free agent period has a lot of time left, but as it stands, Vladimir Tarasenko’s contract is still on the books and he’s still on the Blues. Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman, however, are neither.
Jaden Schwartz has signed a deal with the Seattle Kraken worth $5.5 million a season. If that doesn’t seem like much of a raise from his Blues’ contract, you’re not wrong. His AAV with the Blues was just $5,350,000. Schwartz’s departure wasn’t about the money, and it wasn’t about the Blues. It was about being closer to his family. The Schwartz family has undergone unimaginable loss, most recently of their patriarch. The Blues have been incredible in their support, but there’s less distance between Seattle and Saskatchewan than St. Louis and Saskatchewan.
For Mike Hoffman, the decision to move on was more than likely playing time and usage oriented. Hoffman signed with the Montreal Canadiens at three years at an AAV of $4.5 million a season. Hoffman drug the Blues’ power play into the league’s top ten - and by proxy, that power play down the stretch drug the Blues into the playoffs. However, his usage this year was not his traditional role, and it took several games after being a healthy scratch and surviving the trade deadline before the Blues consistently used him effectively with the extra man.
The Blues need a better rounded left wing than Hoffman, who is notable for being a power play specialist but not necessarily an even strength guy. On the other hand, they also could use a power play specialist going forward.
Without Schwartz and Hoffman, the Blues are a bit thin on the left wing. If the team does shift Brayden Schenn over to the wing from center, and places Robert Thomas at center, their next two left wingers down are fan favorite Zach Sanford and Kyle Clifford on left wing.
One would assume Klim Kostin would finally get a chance to crack the Blues lineup, but he shouldn’t be on the fourth line, and with Sanford there, he doesn’t have space on the third line, either.
Without Kostin having a serious roster spot, the Blues are fine, but that may be as far as it goes. Fans aren’t going to like Sanford, who was occasionally a defensive liability yet still a favorite of coach Craig Berube getting playing time over the recent Gagarin Cup champion.