First off, the enter button works today. Go figure.
So, my first random rant, mainly just to type it. It is about the Blues cap space going into this off-season. Yeah, I'm a sports nerd. Esspecially the Blues.
So here's the Blues situation, according to Hockey Buzz.
Players Signed Through (Atleast) the 2010-2011 Season
Andy McDonald (4.7 Million), Brad Boyes (4.0 Million), David Backes (2.5 Million), Jay McClement (1.45 Million), Lars Eller (1.3 Million), T.J. Oshie (1.275 Million), Patrick Berglund (1,246,667$... no real way to shorten that one...), BJ Crombeen (872,500%), Eric Brewer (4.25 Million), Barrett Jackman (3.625 Million), Alex Pietrangelo (3,195,833$... I'm getting really tired of these long numbers. Why can't they just set them to the nearest thousand?), Roman Polak (1.1 Million), Ty Conklin (1.3 Million)
Contracts Bought Out (And Thus, we are still somewhat paying for)
Jay McKee (1,333,333$)
Total Confirmed Salary set for Next Year according to the cap: 32,148,333.
Restricted Free Agents:
Alex Steen (Arbitration Eligible), David Perron, Cam Jannsen (Arbitration Eligible), DJ King (Arbitration Eligible), Erik Johnson
Unrestricted Free Agents:
Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Brad Winchester, Carlo Coliacovo, Darryl Sydor, Mike Weaver, Chris Mason.
Ok, lets break this down shall we?
First off, lets review the players who we know are gonna be back next year that aren't "officially signed" It's actually not a very long list.
Erik Johnson and David Perron are utter and complete locks. Both will probably sign long term expensive contracts by the end of the season, because they are quality players. Johnson might even get one of those "decade long" contracts, and honestly, I'd think it be a good move if they can do it, partially depending on the price tag.
ok, that's said, lets look at our depth from there on out.
Forwards at NHL level: 9 (Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes, David Backes, TJ Oshie, David Perron, Patrick Berglund, Jay McClement, BJ Crombeen, Lars Eller (figure he'd be a lock))
Defensemen at the NHL Level: 4 (Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson, Barrett Jackman, Roman Polak)
Goalies at the NHL Level: 1 (Ty Conklin)
Okay then, that would, theoritically leave 4 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie. Lets break down options to fit these spots either from within our organization, or options from the free agents and players we should consider re-signing.
Forwards: Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Alex Steen, Brad Winchester, Cam Jannsen, DJ King, Aaron Palushaj, Nicolas Drazenovic.
Okay, first off, we will keep one of Jannsen or King, and only one. And that one will be Jannsen I imagine. I like DJ a good deal, but Cams local, and less injury prone. So, adding him makes 10 forwards and I'm guessing we're going for 13.
Unless Paul Kariya wants a big hometown discount, which would assume he really loves St. Louis. And I don't think that's gonna happen. So, lets go by the assumption that Kariya is gone by the end of this season, shall we?
Now, both Keith Tkachuk and Alex Steen could be solid bets to return, depending on 1 thing per individual.
Does Keith Tkachuk want to keep taking discounts to play with the Blues instead of retirement or taking more money elsewhere? I think this is a good bet.
Do the Blues think Alex Steen is in the makings of a consistent top 2 line forward, or atleast a really good 3rd line forward. Further more, I guess there is the possibility that Steen might accept a discount to stay in St. Louis, since we've kinda been responsible for a resurgance in his career, and he seems happy here, but I'm not expecting that either.
If both stay, then we probably don't do much this off-season signing forwards. We try to see if Eller is capable of blugging into Kariyas spot, and call up someone like Drazenovic or Eller to fill in Winchesters spot, or possibly sign another big forward in free agentcy to fill his role.
Defensemen: Carlo Coliacovo, Darryl Sydor, Mike Weaver, Jonas Junland, Tyson Stratchan, Ian Cole.
Okay, we've got 4 spots locked down on D, and we've got 6 canidates that, imo, all have strong arguments for a roster spot. We'll probably take 3 more. Lets start with the most valuable player out of this equation according to most.
Carlo Coliacovo is probably the biggest question mark on this group in terms of "will we won't we" out of all of our reguler skaters. I think Carlo would love to stay in St. Louis, simply because after the hell that was his career in Toronto, we gave him a fresh start, and he's played well with it, and seems to have chemistry with his teamates. The problem is our organizational depth defensemen wise is packed. If he agrees to a contract in the 1.5 to 2 million range, I could see us signing him. But honestly, I have no idea if Carlo will be a Blue next year
Weaver and Sydor are going in the paragraph because it's the same deal. They are both veteran defensemen that are solid role players, and aren't getting any better. At most, we re-sign one. And I'm not sure on that either.
Jonas Junland is an interesting case because he's lit up Peoria for 2 years in a row basically. He was a high draft pick that's basically just waiting for a chance in the NHL, but he's a restricted free agent for now. Sooo. Do we bring him back, and if we do, do we try to plug him in to the NHL? Iunno.
Tyson Stratchan is another interesting case because when he's in a Blues uniform, he doesn't look out of place on the D-Line. I honestly wasn't sure if he should have been sent down in the first place, and if we didn't have so much depth defensivly, he wouldn't have been. He's a solid, unspectacular stready defensive minded player who does the job in his zone. If we don't sign him, someone else will, and he might end up sticking with the NHL. I wouldn't mind seeing him stick, but if we've got so many (defensive minded D-Men) set on the roster, I'm not sure if we keep him
And then there is the wildcard, Ian Cole. Cole is a former 1st round pick, who'se stayed with Notre Dame to complete his degree. He is a talented defensemen who is rather well rounded, and expected to be a top 4 type of player. If he does go to the NHL this off-season, or even before this season ends (don't be stunned if he's wearing a Rivermen jersey in April), he will probably try to stake his claim as an NHL defensemen from day one. As to if he can do it, I have no clue how he ranks next to Junland, Pietrangelo, or Stratchan.
Now, there is ONE extra possibility to consider here. With our depth on D, I think it is possible that we do to Brewer as we did to Jay McKee, and buy out the last year of his contract to give our younger D-Men chance to move forward, and free up cap space. No idea if this will actually happen, just throwing it out there.
And now to Goaltending: Chris Mason, Ben Bishop
Chris Mason is ofcourse the big question, but I don't think we should make any decisions until later in the season with him. He's a career backup who'se in his first full season as a starter, and while he hasn't been bad, he hasn't been exceptionally good. So, lets wait it out.
Course if we don't sign him, or anyone else for that matter, that would probably mean we trust Ben Bishop to get a good deal of starts next year along side Ty Conklin. That would be a big step forward for Bishop, who has been playing well in Peoria lately. I can't predict how well he'd transition to the NHL, but he has size on his size, and he's clearly got some talent.
So yeah, there's me looking forward to next year. It was long winded, probably filled with spelling errors, and probably un-needed. But, we mine as well have this laid out for now, I guess?