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Game Time Mail Bag: Mikkola and Walman, and what is up with Tarasenko?

Keep the questions coming!

St Louis Blues v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

We have a ton of good questions to start the return of Game Time Mail Bag off on the right foot - so many that we’re going to split the responses over a couple of days! If you guys have questions for us, please send them over to hildymacgt at gmail dot com or use the hashtag #GameTimeMailBag on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to give you a decent answer.

Remember, we’re not experts. We just play some on the internet.

Question one comes to us from John Noatch. John writes:

Thank you for all the hard work in continuing StL Game Time! When I’ve read line projections for the upcoming season I noticed pretty much everyone had Mikkola on the 3rd line with Walman warming the bench. I was surprised by this because strictly using the eye test I honestly saw more from Walman last season than Mikkola. Could you use your awesome powers of statistics digging to show who is better and give your own thoughts as well?

Thank you for flattering me by considering my power of statistics “awesome.” It may surprise you that no one has ever said that to me before!

Anywho, personally, I liked watching both Mikkola and Walman last season and have been hopeful that we’ll be able to see more of them in the pre-season as they duke it out for their third pairing position.

Both players are close to the same age, with very similar playing experience and statistics (here’s Walman’s HockeyDB page, and here’s Mikkola’s, for reference). A lot of who is going to get used and when will boil down to what Craig Berube wants in a situation. Does he want someone a little quicker with some decent skills on the puck? Walman goes in. Are the Blues playing an opponent that requires a bit more physicality? Then I think that Mikkola’s the pick.

Pretty much, on the third pairing, Robert Bortuzzo’s going to be the constant, and Walman and Mikkola will be swapped out as needed, barring injuries or anything else weird going on.

Question two was sent in by Ron Heibert:

Hi Hildy.

In light of Tarasenko being dealt to another team, what is the process of Army obtaining the best possible deal for the Blues in return?

Any thoughts or insight on how he would play one team against another where one team’s offer is shared to competing teams or is it all hush hush?

Oh, man, if I knew the answer to that I would be sitting in Doug Armstrong’s office right now, probably getting paid Doug Armstrong’s salary, because I would be Doug Armstrong. Honest to goodness, I wish that I knew the actual answer for this. Armstrong has been working the phones to facilitate a deal for Tarasenko since Tarasenko’s camp gave him the head’s up that he wanted to be dealt.

No one wants a disgruntled player on the roster, and right now, Tarasenko’s the poster child for that. Unfortunately for both Tarasenko and the Blues, he’s also the poster child for shoulder surgery. I think it’s going to be difficult for Armstrong to actually play anyone off of each other right now because he’s being lowballed by GM’s who are (rightfully) concerned about Tarasenko’s health status. Everyone, including Armstrong, wants to bet that this last surgery took and Tarasenko will be healthy this year, but no one wants to be on the losing side of that bet either. It’s created a bit of a weird paradox for everyone involved: teams want a player like Tarasenko, don’t want to risk gaining a player with Tarasenko’s injury background while losing anything of value, but to get Tarasenko they’ll have to give up something of value. He’s a potential high reward, but he’s also crazy high risk, and I don’t know if GMs are clamoring for that right now - especially with the cap situation being what it is.

We’ve gotten so many good questions this week that I’m going to have to create a bit of a cliffhanger here. We’ll be back tomorrow with more answers!