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

Posted by bluesfan45 in Uncategorized.
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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.

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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.

Blues Thought of the Day: 05-24-09 May 25, 2009

Posted by bluesfan45 in Thought of the Day.
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Been a while, work is crazy and the baby is becoming more mobile and too smart for my own good.

As always JR at the St. Louis Post Dispatch had a good Thursday afternoon Hockey Chat a couple weeks ago. Several fans questioned Eric Brewer and his potential return to the Blues line up for the 09-10 season.

With the Blues Playoff push and appearance to cap off the 08-09 Season, expectations are sure to ramp up for the 09-10 campaign. There are obvious and serious questions surrounding the Blues blue line patrol. The 08-09 group was one of the least effective in terms offensive production in the league, not just of the 16 playoff teams. With so much of the NHL game revolving around mobility, transition, and the 5 man offense, can expectations realistically raise when there are issues with the defensemen?

Eric Brewer and his $4mil plus contract factor deeply in to this situation. With the return of Erik Johnson and the potential ascension of Alex Pietrangelo to the big show, the offensive effectiveness looks to turn around. However, at the same time how much can the Blues count on one kid returning from a major knee injury and another kid just really getting his feet wet? Without the addition of Johnson, Pietrangelo, and Brewer, the Blues defensemen figure to be lack luster in terms of offensive production.

Is Eric Brewer the “x-factor”?  Is he the cog that will make this wheel turn? Will he return from a very serious and potentially career threatening back injury and be as good or better than before?

For the Blues, who are still financially unsettled, the simple answer is “yes, he has to”…but why?

1. Money
While fans (this one included) would love to dabble in the Bouwmeester sweepstakes, that is just not a good business move at this point. It really pains me to say this, being on the Bouwmeester bandwagon for a quite a while. However, the Blues do not have the money…right now…to play the FA game. They gambled with Kariya which has worked, but no where to the degree hoped for. Right now the Blues just cannot afford the gamble.

Could the Blues make the play for the second tier type? Someone like Bergeron, Siedenberg, Leopold, Oduya, or Komisarek? There is that possibility, except that to make it feasible the Blues likely have to move out  Jay McKee’s $4mil contract. Not the easiest task when another team could get the afore mentioned Free Agents for likely less than McKee’s $4mil tag.

2. Lack of Replacement
The Blues blue line depth, or lack there of, was exposed. The loss of Johnson and Brewer, the lack of development of Steve Wagner, and the inability of 4th Overall pick Alex Pietrangelo to stick to the NHL roster opened up this glaring hole. A hole filled in by “fillers” like Mike Weaver, Tyson Strachan, Jeff Woywitka, and Wagner. Those four combined to produce 31 points (3 goals) in 175 games, which is roughly a 15 (14.5) point pace per 82 games. Not exactly what you would expect from a playoff team. I will give Woywitka some credit, he had 18 of the 31 points.

What do all the numbers mean? It means that beyond Colaiacovo and to a lesser extent Polak, there was little offensive production from the blue liners. While Brewer might have only been good for 5 or so goals and 25ish points, that’s still an improvement over the numbers put up by the likes of Weaver.

3. Who He Replaced
Yes, Eric Brewer was the principal return in the Pronger to Oilers trade. As many times as that horse has been beat (rest his soul), he is still holding some water. No matter how many fans say “it doesn’t matter”, it still does. Brewer is replacing a lot of production and a big name. Could Blues fan really expect Brewer to play anything close to the Hall of Fame level Pronger has? Not while being fair. However, Brewer has to be expected to contribute. Like it or not, he has been the #1 blue line patroller since the trade and the Blues need him to be as close to that level as possible.

I am pulling for Brewer. I hope his back is as close to 100% as possible and he can be a capable top 4 defensemen. For that matter, the Blues are pulling for him too. They really don’t have a choice.