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McKee to Pens? July 10, 2009

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Garth, Brian Metzer, and Andy Strickland from Hockeybuzz are all reporting that former Blue Jay McKee will agree to a 1 year, $800,000 contract with the Penguins by Friday.

Metzer on Twitter
GARTH on Hockeybuzz
Strickland on Twitter

I think its a great deal for all three parties.

The Blues saved some money and cleared roster space for Pietrangelo.
The Pens aquire a Hal Gill replacement at half of the cost of Gill’s 08-09 Contract.
Jay McKee is still getting paid well for doing Plumber’s work.

I’ve gotten to meet Jay. I think he is a good guy and a good hockey player. He took more money to come to St. Louis when the team was bad and the fans ripped on him for not living up to his $4 million cap hit. In the post lockout NHL, is Jay “worth” $4 million per year? Likely not because of his lack of mobility. However, Jay brings charecter, experience, top notch shot blocking, and solid defensive work. Pens fans will love Jay for $800,000 as much as Blues fans disliked him at a $4 million cap hit.

Blues and Tkachuk Agree to a 1 year / $2.15 Million Contract June 19, 2009

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As Jeremy Rutherford from the Post Dispatch has reported, the Blues and Keith Tkachuk have agreed to a 1 year, $2.15 million contract.

Great news for Blues fans as another piece of the 09-10 puzzle comes together before the draft. Great job JD, Larry, Al, and Doug.

Old Man Walt was that old bottle of Elmers GLue you find cleaning your room at age 16 for the first time since you were 10. Old, inda crusty, but if you scrape off the excess, it works well enough.

This contract allows the Blues to keep that glue-man around to help the Blues through another transition season. The growth of the Kid Line, the return of EJ, the growth of Polak and Colaiacovo, and hopefully Murray working with a talented team vs an injury decimated one.

Keith won’t score 25-30 goals, he isn’t being asked to do that anymore. He will step back on to St. Louis ice in a similar fashion to Shanny in New York, Chellios in Detroit, and Roenick in San Jose. FIll a bottom half of roster position, chip in points when you can, and provide leadership to the younger players on their team.

Loe him, hate him. Love his leadership, call him a cancer. Bottom line is that he is a wisened hockey professor who can help guys like OShie, Backes, Berglund, Johnson take their raw young talent and mold it in to savvy, mature production. That is something thre is virtually no price on, so $2.15mil for a year is going to be money well spent.

What the Blues can learn from Hossa and the Penguins June 15, 2009

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Let’s take a short trip back in time to June 9th, 2009. Various Websites and Hockeybuzz.com Blogger Peter Tessier, break news of Dany Heatley asking to be traded out of Ottawa. While Ottawa brass has said that Heatley wouldn’t be moved around the deadline, it appears now Dany wants out no matter what the Front Office wants.

Enter the St. Louis Blues. Where the front office has said they would like to pursue a scoring winger. Who has also said they see the time drawing near to add players now and trade some of the prospect pool.

Initially fans are for it, some are against it. I was for it, till I was able to give it more thought. I came to this conclusion while watching my second favorite team play, the Pittsburgh Penguins. My conclusion was that the Blues trading for Heatley amounted to the same as the Penguins trying to re-sign Marian Hossa last summer. At the time, Pens fans were upset with their rental hero not returning. Likely rightfully so. However, not signing Hossa has given the Pens more wiggle room in the check book to secure depth for the short and near terms.

How do Heatley and Hossa compare?
Both have over 100 point total seasons.
Both are big bodied forwards who can score 40+ goals in an season.
Both have deep playoff run experience, not much, but some.
Both are game changers, able to take a game over and lead a team to a win.
Both wanted or make over $7 million a year in Salary and are over $7mil in cap hits.

Why are the Blues like the Pens?
Both have a talented young core of players who will need to be re-signed soon.
Both have some financial issues. Blues in terms of money coming in and the Pens in terms of cap space.
Both teams have built through the draft and acted accordingly to develop players internally.

Here is a brief list of the moves that may not have been possible (now or later)  if the Pens kept Hossa.
Re-signing Brook Orpik
Signing Jordan Staal to his first big contract
Trading for Bill Guerin
Re-signing Guerin, Fedotenko, and Scuderi, Goligoski
Re-signing Kris Letang or Sergi Gonchar
Signing Luca Caputi or Eric Tangradi to their first big contracts.

Most of those players played major parts of the 2009 Cup Run and the two that didnt, will factor in in to longer term offensive winger depth. In short the Penguins forking $7mil + to Hossa loses them their shut down center who can score 25-30 goals, a veteran forward to help Sid and several key depth players.

What do the Blues have to lose to get Heatley?

2009 1st Rd. Pick
NHL level player
NHL ready prospect
– Something along those lines get him here. What about after that?
Choosingbetween EJ and Colaiacovo in the 2010 off season.
David Perron potentially in a trade.
Ability to re-sign David Backes / Brad Boyes
Reduced money to offer core players like Oshie and Berglund
Reduced funds to add UFA/traded for player additions in later seasons

Is the cost in assets worth the gain in this case? Is adding a potential 100 point winger worth losing 3 young players now (prospect, NHL level player and the 1st rd pick) plus making it harder to re-sign needed depth players. Given the Blues current level of financial stability, it won’t work. There are too many questions about money coming in to the team during economic downturn. With the cap likely shrinking, teams must have young players they can count on to offer cheap production. Adding Heately right now hampers that effort.

I am not saying the Blues will win the Cup because they didn’t get Heatley because of the Pens situation. I am stating that the Pens made the better long term decision and still found short term filler. The Blues need to remain focused on the long term as the short term is starting to take care of itsself with the players we have. Could the Blues add to the mix, to help the short term. Sure, there are many capable players out there who can improve the blue line, provide scoring depth up front, and be a solid back up. Its up to the Pro Scouting Department to evaluate who is out there along with JD, Al, and Dave to figure out who will fit in a the right price. So far the Front Office has done a good job, I don’t think there is a reason to not trust them yet.

So take a chapter from Ray Shero, JD and Larry. Entertain the thought, but secure who you already have first. Once that is done, then go looking for the key piece who can be around a while.

Thought of the Day: 05-25-09 May 26, 2009

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Just got home from seeing Night at the Museum 2 (good movie by the way) and watched the 2008 Draft Special on NHL Network.

They did spend some time going over the Blues and their #4 pick. Some interesting things seemed to have come up at the draft that I am not sure were talked about much.

The #2 and #4 Pick:
It sounded like Larry Pleau wasn’t sure that LA was going to draft Doughty. Sounded like they were very interested in him, with good reason after his solid rookie campaign.

Anaheim and the #28 Pick:
Anaheim dealt their #28 pick to Phoenix to pick up #35 and #39.
Based on what they showed with Burke mic’d up…
Blues offered #33 and #87
NYI offered #36 and #60
NJD offered #55 and #57
PHO offered #35 and #39

At #28 Phoenix drafted Viktor Tikhonov.

Detroit and the #30 pick:
Detroit took several offers for the 30th pick.  The Devils offered a similar set of picks and the Blues offered the same, #33 and #87. Ken Holland (mic’d up) said they could add the 65th to it and maybe give the Blues back a 4th or 5th rounder. Holland sounded like he would deal, if their player wasn’t there, which ended up being Thomas McCollum.

#33 turned in to Phil McRae, #87 turned in to Ian Schultz, and #65 turned in to Jori Lehtera.

Assuming these deals had gone down…would the Blues have taken Tikhanov or McCollum at #28? Would they have taken McCollum at 30 and passed on Jake Allen at #34 to hope for McRae instead? Are Tikhanov and McCollumn better than Allen, McRae, Schutlz, and Lehtera?

McCollum is ranked #4 in the Red Wings system by Hockeys Future and rated an 8.0D and Tikhanov is rated an 8.0C and #1 in the Coyotes system. Allen and McRae are rated 7.5C and 7.0C, ranked 6 and 7 in the Blues system. There is not a large difference. Add in a large guy like Schultz and an offensive upside guy Lehtra, I think the Blues did better not making the deals.

While it would have been nice to keep adding 1st Rounders to the coffers, Allen and McRae taken early in the 2nd are pretty comparable to the late 1st Round guys.  So not being able to trade up a few picks wasn’t the end of the world. Keep in mind that the Blues could have offered #33 and #34 to move up to get Tikhanov or McCollum and had a better offer than Phoenix.

With the Blues possibly trading down this year, look for similar scenarios. The Blues may not land a Pronger on draft day, they could add 3-4 additional 2nd to 4th round picks by dealing down. The Islanders have three 2nd round picks this summer, keep an eye open for that.