Category Archives: St. Louis Blues
Sources out of Toronto have the Blues and Maple Leafs on each other’s radar. One player whose name continues to pop up, not just with St. Louis, is forward Nikolai Kulemin.
A former 30 goal scorer, Kulemin is playing a different role with Toronto and could maybe use a change of scenery. The 26 year-old Russian has just 12 points this season but has been used primarily in a defensive/PK role. He’s seen limited PP action.
He put up 38 points in 36 KHL games this season. Kulemin is a childhood friend of Pittsburgh superstar Evgeni Malkin as the two played together before coming over to the NHL.
THIS N’ THAT: The talk has increased in the last few days as the schedule hits the halfway point and teams are starting to get desperate to make moves. Sources say the Rangers, Flames and Philadelphia Flyers are among those making phone calls. “Teams are thinking they’ve got to do something now if they’re going to stand a chance,” said a league executive Friday … The Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Senators are among several teams looking for a defenceman before the April 3 deadline … The Penguins won’t have C Evgeni Malkin back from a concussion Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at the Bell Centre, but he is making progress. Many GMs think Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero will deal for Calgary’s Jarome Iginla.
Thank you to Travis over at Broad Street Hockey for bringing this piece of wackiness to my attention. As usual, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren wants to make a splash by the trade deadline, especially since the Flyers are not a particularly successful team right now. They are 9-11-1 on the year and are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Something needs to be done. But what? How about trade Daniel Briere for defensive help? Sure, stands to reason.
According to sources, Armstrong has been asking for forward Danny Briere. He isn’t the only one. Boston inquired about Briere last week, among others.
Briere, 35, is one player who isn’t going anywhere. The Flyers have not asked Briere to waive his no-trade clause, and it isn’t clear whether they’re interested in moving him, but he provided an answer Tuesday.
The listless Blues fell to the Kings 4-1, extending their losing streak to five games. Never on Ken Hitchcock‘s watch has this team suffered such a dramatic downturn.
Now the Blues head out onto the road, starting Wednesday night at Detroit against the surging Red Wings.
This debacle left fans wondering if the general manager Doug Armstrong needs to so something. (Since he was in Toronto watching the Maple Leafs and Flyers play, the rumor mill started churning for real.)
No contender has more salary cap space to work with right now. Does Armstrong need to give the team’s chemistry a jolt?
It didn’t take long for the blues to scoop up Wade Redden. It seems that he has signed a 1 year deal worth 800,000.hockeytraderumors.com
— hockeytraderumors (@hockeytraderumo) January 18, 2013
But what we have to consider here is that the Leafs are looking at other options; options that may not cost as much as Luongo in the short term and long term.
What about Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis? He went 26-12-7 last season with a 1.97 GAA and .925 save percentage and still sits second on the depth chart behind Brian Elliott. Or what if Nonis and company felt like Jonathan Bernier was ready for prime time but never got the chance to show it behind Jonathan Quick.
A lefthanded shooting defenseman, perhaps a veteran, maybe even somebody who could play with Alex Pietrangelo, was atop the Blues’ wish list last offseason.
General manager Doug Armstrong gauged the trade market in June and made free-agent inquiries in July but came away empty-handed. Perhaps Armstrong wasn’t offering enough to other teams in trade talks, or enough dollars to free agents. But there was another factor at play: the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement was set to expire Sept. 15.
“Obviously we had talked with quite a few teams at the entry draft, quite a few teams over the summer,” Armstrong said. “A lot of people wanted to see how this (new) CBA was going to affect their franchise.”
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has acknowledged being involved in trade talks recently and now those discussions could be leading to a deal soon.
The Blues have prioritized adding a top-four defenseman this offseason, and after failing to land one in free agency, the trade route may be the club’s only option. But while that search continues, Armstrong might have found a veteran forward to add to the mix.
Dallas captain Brenden Morrow is believed to be available and the Blues may have interest. They might not be the only team asking about Morrow, as the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings may also be in contact with the Stars.
Morrow, 33, has perhaps seen his time pass in Dallas. The Stars have undergone much change in the past few weeks, signing free-agents Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney and acquiring Derek Roy via trade. The club even dealt Mike Ribeiro, with whom Morrow has shared on-ice chemistry in the past. The moves have seemingly pushed Morrow out of the top-six forwards.
Morrow plays left wing, and the Blues have three left wingers on their roster in David Perron, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen. They also have Matt D’Agostini and Jaden Schwartz, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock prefers D’Agostini on the right side and Schwartz isn’t a guarantee to make the opening-night roster. Steen could see time at center, which could leave a spot open on the left side.
Morrow is coming off an injury-riddled season. He played in just 57 games because of neck and back issues, posting 11 goals and 26 points. He played the final 14 games of the 2011-12 regular season, wrapping up against the Blues on April 7. He did not opt for surgery this offseason, instead using rest and rehab to ease the pain.
Today could be a day that determines whether the Blues will need to trade a forward - quite possibly a top-six forward.
The Blues have a hole on the left side of their defense and they are trying to fill it via free agency. General manager Doug Armstrong said that the club reached out to several free agents on Sunday, expressing interest.
Armstrong would not confirm whether the team made contact with Ryan Suter’s camp, but the Blues aren’t believed to be in the mix anyway. But they did send feelers out to Florida’s Jason Garrison and Philadelphia’s Matt Carle.
Garrison signed a six-year, $27.6 million contract with Vancouver, and while the Blues may have matched the $4.6 annual average on the contract, it appears they didn’t have much of a chance anyway because the British Columbia-native was looking to play close to home. Some Blues fans may be relieved because Garrison, 27, has had only one above-average year in the NHL, posting 16 goals and 33 points last season.
Carle, 27, might be a higher priority for the Blues anyway. He had 38 points with Philadelphia last season and has 113 points over the last three years with the Flyers. In 2010-11, he had 39 assists and was a plus-30.
Carle is coming off a four-year, $13.75 million contract, which paid him $3.8 million last year. Some are speculating that Carle could be commanding close to $5 million in the open market, and with Garrison receiving a term of six years from Vancouver, teams might need to match that length for Carle, too.
Reports from Sunday night suggested that Carle probably won’t sign until Suter signs. That would make Carle “Plan A” for the teams who lost out on Suter. Carle would be coveted because the options after him dwindle. Phoenix’s Michal Rozsival, Philadelphia’s Pavel Kubina, Toronto’s Jeff Finger, New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador and recent Blue Carlo Colaiacovo are available free agents.
QUESTION: Carlo Colaiacovo is now an unrestricted free agent. Do you think there is any chance Colaiacovo will return to the Blues next season? Would he rank among the team’s top six defensemen at this point?
At this point, I would say the chances of Colaiacovo returning are 50-50. Doug Armstrong hasn’t closed the door, but the Blues are exhausting other options in landing a defenseman, including free agency and trade partners. Colaiacovo can be a decent defenseman in the league and he showed that he has chemistry with Alex Pietrangelo. But whether it was injury-related or not, Colaiacovo struggled down the stretch, and with his contract up, the Blues are looking for an upgrade. If they can’t find one, he could be back.
The Blues still need to address the defense position before next season which they’ll do either through a trade or in free agency. Finding a player to play with Alex Pietrangelo should be a priority. Sure he could play with Kevin Shattenkirk but that’s only if there are no other options. I don’t doubt Pietrangelo can play the left side but there’s no sense in taking him away from his natural side unless it’s really necessary.
There’s limited players available in free agency that register on the excitement meter. I’m not sure the Blues can afford a player like Matt Carle who will fetch north of $4 million come July 1st. Others such as 36 year old Bryce Salvador missed a full season with an inner ear issue two seasons ago. Salvador could still return to New Jersey but will be hoping for a three year deal similar to the contract Jackman received. He may have to settle for two.
The Blues have told Ian Cole he’s guaranteed a top seven spot but it’s up to him to nail down a top six position. He’ll need to improve his skill level to play with Pietrangelo. Blues assistant coaches worked several days towards the end of last season on improving his skill while the former Notre Dame standout was out of the lineup.
Just look at the defense of the last two Stanley cup winners and it gives you a good idea of how much the Blues probably need to improve to truly contend.
Look for both Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol to both re-sign one year deals with the Blues sometime this week or next.