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Polak Contract Situation Overblown? Cole really leaving ND? July 3, 2009

Posted by bluesfan45 in Offseason, Transactions.
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Polak Situation Overblown
by Mark Massa

There seems to be a lot of worry about the Blues possibly losing Roman Polak to an offer sheet. Personally, I’m not all that worried about it. While he had a good rookie season, I would be willing to bet most teams have bigger priorities this time of year than signing a young player with one NHL goal to his name to an offer sheet. No disrespect to Polak but I’m getting the impression he and his agent are overvaluing him. Even though the Blues were a victim of an offer sheet last summer, the practice is still pretty rare so I’d be surprised if he got one. The Blues showed last summer that they’re willing to retaliate so that should help deter teams from signing Blues RFAs to offer sheets.

Another point worth mentioning is that Polak doesn’t even have arbitration rights. If he’s not signed to an offer sheet, he has virtually no leverage in contract negotiations with the Blues. The Blues could easily not offer him anything more than his qualifying offer, a low $522,500, and Polak would be left with either accepting that or holding out. In the end though, I would expect the Blues and Polak’s camp to come to an agreement on a deal higher than his qualifying offer but a good chunk lower than he’s probably asking for. Same with Crombeen. After the UFA season settles down a bit and assuming neither Polak or Crombeen get an offer sheet, they’ll likely sign reasonable deals to return to the Blues. Crombeen does have arbitration rights though so at least he has some leverage Polak doesn’t have.

Other Quick Thoughts

There’s been a lot of speculation about Ian Cole possibly changing his mind and turning pro this season. While it’s possible, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. Let’s just see how he performs in Orientation Camp next week. He seems to only want to turn pro if he has a realistic shot at the NHL but with so many other defensemen that he would be competing with, I wonder just what his chances would be. The problem is that he will have to make his decision on turning pro or not before he has a chance to make the team. He can’t participate in Training Camp without forfeiting his NCAA eligibility.

Word is Jean-Philippe Lamoureux will be attending Buffalo’s Prospects Camp next week. Does that represent the end of JPL’s time in the Blues organization? I sure hope not. He was an absolute rock with the ECHL Alaska Aces last season but with him deserving of an AHL shot and Bishop and Holt in front of him occupying those AHL spots in the Blues organization, JPL could very well find a shot with another team.

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Is this real? June 23, 2009

Posted by bluesfan45 in Offseason, Transactions.
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So I am doing my nightly jog through the hockey world online after the kiddo goes to bed and come across this?!

A HF Boards thread showing a Twiter link to Bob McKenzie from TSN???

Linking to this Twitter page???

The Blues have to be considered the favourites for Heatley. Their current package is believed to contain Boyes, Perron and possibly Brewer.
about 13 hours ago from web

I really don’t know where to start with this.

This would potentially work from a money stand point. As moving Brewer and Boyes would clear out $8.25mil in cap hits for 09-10, 10-11 and $4mil in 11-12. This would in theory give you money to keep Backes, Oshie, and Berglund.

However, I would think this would have to work on the assumption that the Blues feel that Eller, Sonne, or Palushaj would be ready now and be an impact player now.

So pushing logic aside for a moment, is that even really Bob McKenzie?! IS that Twitter account real? We all know what LaRussa did with Twitter…

Dredger is on Twitter and its on the TSN.ca site, but where is McKenzie’s if this is real?

Calling more BS.


Eklund says Blues want Heatley done by Wednesday? June 22, 2009

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As Reported on Hockeybuzz today…

Eklund advises the hockey world that the Blues want to have a deal done to get Heatley to St. Louis by Wednesday, two days before the draft.

I think we need a few grains of salt, a lemon wedge, and some good tequila to analyze that one.

AS we talked about here and many other sites have discussed, Heatley to St. Louis is very hard to imagine. While the Blues have the desire for a top flight player, can they truly afford him with out giving up Brad Boyes (which defeats teh purpose of getting Heatley) and if they can, which young stars do we lose?

Perron? Berglund? Oshie? Pietrangelo? Eller? Backes?

Who is traded now and/or later? Who cannot be re-signed?

It’s a this point I really hope that the front office politely says “no”.  No to thinning out our NHL level depth. No to moving out a young core member. No to tying up roughly 12-15% of the Blues cap hits in one player.

I know teams want to get that name power. You want that guy to drum up media support, to sell tickets, to sell jerseys. At the same time, this isn’t your dad’s NHL anymore. This is not so much a veterans game. This league is dominated by 3 players who have all gained the right to buy alcohol in the last 12 months. It is a young-man’s game now.

This is where the Blues can differ from other teams. Push away the old status quo and really stck with their kids. Will it be hard to keep your home grown talent when you could haeve offer sheets and high priced offers. However, at the same time the Blues have to believe that they can develop their rebuilt core and keep them around. With the cap going down  (for at least the next two years it looks like), you need to be able to control your contracts. The Blues will get great control over their group.

The young core of this team is as follows (argueably):
TJ Oshie
Patrik Berglund
Erik Johnson
David Perron
David Backes
Brad Boyes
Alex Pietrangelo
Jay McClement
Roman Polak
All of these players are under contract for at least 2 more years or will be RFA’s in that time period.

The current roster situation gives you a large amount of control over how much your core makes, allowing you to spend elsewhere. However, that control doesn’t mean you add a $7.5mil cap hit.

THe Blues have a chance to say “we have our core, we arent moving them and in the long term interest of this organization, we are going to retain these players”. How many teams will be able to do this? Not many. Edmonton  might. Phoenix has no money to begin with. Chicago has spent a ton (Campbell) and are going to have MAJOR cap issues retaining Kane, Toews, and Versteeg down the road.

By saying no, the Blues have the chance to do what few teams can do, kep their most important long term peices while they are still contributing now. Heatley all but kills that chance. The time is not now. The Blues got in to the Playoffs minus a top 3 forward and a top pairing Dman, lets see what Kariya and EJ give us first. Save the money now to dabble at the deadline if you want to add a body.

Blues ink McClement to 3 year / $4.35mil Contract May 27, 2009

Posted by bluesfan45 in Offseason, Transactions.
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Andy Strickland reported this on Hockeybuzz earlier last week, however Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post Dispatch let fans know that the Blues made it official today. The Blues announced that Center Jay McClement has agreed to a 3 year deal worth more than $4 million dollars.

Per Strickland and Rutherford the deal breaks down this way:
2009-10: $1.4 million
2010-11: $1.45 million
2011-12: $1.5 million

Jeremy Rutherford quoted John Davidson on McClement:
I think he’s still improving. No. 1, he really has a defined role that he embraced last season. That was, he was the lead guy on the penalty kill, he was the lead guy on matchups, regarding the other team’s top lines. He’s maturing as a player in understanding what his strengths are, yet there’s still upside.”

High praise from one of the better guys in the NHL.

Is this a good signing? Yes it is. Why?

McClement produced 26 points while being the top forward on a Top 10 PK unit as well as being the primary Center to match up against the likes of Thronton, Datsyuk, Nash, etc. He finished a -10, which isn’t bad considering how little offense his line is expected to produce. McClement was the top face-off man for the Blues at 52.1%. I am not counting McDonald’s 58% due to the amount of face-offs he had compared to Jay. McClement was second on the Blues with 44 takeaways (Backes had 45). His 57 blocks were the most of any Blues Forward. McClement was the ONLY forward on the Blues to play more than 2:45min a night on the PK. SH TOI/G 3:50. Who was next? Yan Stastny at 2:34.

So Jay put up solid numbers and played a sound defensive game. Couldn’t someone do this without being paid over $1mil per?

Would comparable players like  Radek Bonk take $1.5mil? Would Lehtinen, Grier, Pahlsson, Madden? Sure you might be able to get Reasoner, Zigomanis, Kopecky, Yelle, Peca for the same or less. However they did not excel in the Blues system, McClement did. While that list is comprised of mainly vets, they would still  have to come in to a new environment. Why not keep you have drafted and developed?

So if you don’t go outside, why not stay inside. Could Stastny, Whitfield, or Paddock replace McClement?

In 37 Games Stastny had 9 takeaways, an average of (rounding) 0.3 a game. McClement per game rate was at 0.54. Stastny took 102 face-offs with a 45.1% winning %. Stastny had 18 blocks in 34 games for a .53 per game pace. McClement per game was at .70 per game pace. As far as offensive play, you aren’t paying either player to be offensive minded, so this shouldn’t be a major consideration. You are paying them both to back check, play the PK and shut down the other line, establish a forecheck and get pressure on the D. Scoring is like #5 on that list. 3 SHG for McClement in 08-09 (and many more opportunities)…how many for Yan? Just one.

Whitfield? If he was that good and deserving of the promotion, why did he not come up over Porter, Winchester, Regier, or Paddock earlier this year? They all have similar time in the AHL and play similar roles. Whitefield didn’t look like a fish out of water in his 3 NHL games this year, but he didn’t look much better than Stastny either. Paddock was given 16 games with the big club, not that he was bad, he just didn’t play as well as who we already had in McClement, Stastny, and Hinote.

I know there are fans out there still upset that the 2nd Round pick didn’t turn in to more of an offensive player. I know he is just a grinder. But you cannot refute that Jay found his role last year and played it well. The in house options aren’t as good and the guys on the outside will cost more than Jay. McClement was the best option to fill the shut down Center role. Why did Ryan Jonhson not get this contract? Age and lack of offensive upside. You can say Jay is streaky and not offensively gifted, but he has produced as much in one year as a “checking center” than RJ did from 05 to 07 (2 seasons) and played the same defensive game. Not keeping RJ likely turned Jay in to what he is now, which is fine with me.