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Blues vs Wild: 09-15-09 (Pre-Season) September 16, 2009

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I was very happy to get to get tickets for Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Once again, my wonderful Sales Rep took care of me. I love the level of service each Season Ticket Holder and average ticket buyer receives from the Blues. Anyways, to the game tonight.

The first period, most of it at least, was pure Blues dominance. They moved with great speed, great passing and were very sound positionally. As teh game wore on, Minnesota’s aggressive play really mucked up the flow of the game. The Blues had a roster full of high level talent and Minnesota did not tonight.

The NHL Guys:
Both the Backes and Berglund lines looked solid. They had a compete level ready for the push for the playoffs, let alone the pre-season. Kariya moved well and was all over the ice. Brad Boyes was moving (for the most part) with great speed and a high compete level. I saw Brad back-checking very hard multiple times tonight. Hopefully he will silence the “+/-” crowd this year. Perron is really growing. He is fighting for the puck, dangling, playing the point, getting in peoples faces…and yes, fighting. I Love the Marine look you got going David. McDonald was all over the ice as much as everyone else. I woudl say both top lines covered red line to red line all night. Patrik Berglund looks ready to bust out. He controls the offensive zone so well. He can dangle as well as any big man in the league. The way he carries and protects the puck, he honestly reminds me of Malkin in the offensive zone. watch the Pens and the Blues, you will see what I mean about a big man who can move controlling the puck in the zone.

Cam did his thing as always. I will say he is skating much better than he was last year. He also seems much more intent on playing the game rather than being a “little ball of hat eon skates” out there to destroy the other team. He is going to make it a really difficult decision to not take him over DJ King. I hate to say, but I wasnt so impresse dwith DJ at camp on Sunday.

The Defensemen are not to be forgotten. EJ is back! Write it down. He is large, moving as well as Green or Boyle, and ust doing everything right. He was accounting for his own mistakes and really just playing like the #1 Faranchise Defenseman should. Weaver was Weaver, so no real complaints there. Brendan Bell looked good. There really isnt any other way of describing it. We didn’t see any flashy pinches or puck lugging runs up ice. He didnt shoot laser guided missiles up ice to break out of the zone. What he did do was play consistent and fulfilled his role. Grant it, the Blues played against the Wild’s Prospects and AHL tweeners, but he was taking the body and playing pretty decent defense. He looked ready to be a top 6, every day guy.

Finally we have Chris Mason. Looked good, but not really tested in his 30 or so minutes of play. No concerns based on Game #1.

The Tweeners:
I thought the player of the night in this group was Aaron Palushaj. I was very impressed with his ability, speed, attention to defense. His complete level was right up there with Perron. They seem to be similar players. THose two on the wings for some one like Berglund in a year or two…would be very difficult to contain. Yes he made some mistakes, but I left Scottrade very impressed with Palushaj. If he keeps this up, he will be right up there with Eller for a call up from Peoria. The #2 player in this group has to be Yan Stastny. He looked like a smaller version of McClement. Always in the right place, playing with lots of speed, and blocking shots like Jay and RJ. I was also impressed with Yan at Camp on Sunday. He is going to make it really hard not to break camp on the NHL roster. I have to say that I was also impressed with Reaves. I didn’t really know what to expect from him. He appeaed to be somewhat like Backes, minus the offensive ability. Good speed, taking the body.

Kudos to Derek “Army” Armstrong for his Gordie How Hat Trick. He too could make it hard not to take him out of Camp. He will be a great asset in Peoria though. Porter showed a high compete level once a gain and an ability to play a good defenseive game as well as provide offensive pressure. He is like Stastny, doing well enough to be on the roster, but there is no room.

On defense in this category you have Wagner and Pietrangelo. Wagner looked good early. He seemed to continue to play similar to what I saw on Sunday. GOod over all play, nothign fancy but getting the job done. As teh game wore on he had several miscues. He had multiple free give-aways on some bad passes to clear pressure from the zone and also lacked good position on a key play in front of the net. The Wild player had good position for a rebound, but the puck didn’t quite come at him, so the play was broken up. I have to say that I like Wagner, but he is starting to remind me of Woywitka.

I thought Petro was good enough to be a top 7 out of camp. While he wasn’t overly physical, I thought his positioning was generally good and he was very good using his stick to break up plays. His passing was good and showed good mobility. I questioned a run he mad ein the 3rd deep to the Wild zone and was in under the face-off circles for about 15 seconds, but it resulted in some good pressure on net. The kid did well against AHL players and some NHL talent.If h continues this path through camp and the remaining Pre-Season games, he should be on the NHL roster.

I thought Bishop was very good in net. He allowed the only goal while working for roughly 30 minutes of the game. The goal was a little “flukey”, coming quickly off a Power Play at the end of the game. Im not sure if its his size, but he seemed a little timid (for lack of a better term) tonight. He seems to be ready to deal with a full season as an AHL starter in Peoria.

Misc Thoughts:
Great crowd at Scottrade tonight. Full of energy and ready for the season to start. Great turnout for a Tuesday with the Cards in town tonight.

Happy Birthday to Mr. Dave Checketts.

David Perron really does look like a Marine to me now…with that shaved head.

While the Blues were outshot 34-21, it is rather misleading. Minnesota blocked many shots and didn’t really dictate the flow of the game at all. They cut in to th eBlues flow, but never took it over for any extended period.

Was a great family night at the game. We sat next to 4 other families with small kids about my daughters age. All were very talkative and friendly. Of course, Sam had to flirt with the boy… If anyone caught the dancing baby with Blue beads in the Blues hoodie, that was Sam, Me and Kelly. Her first actual game and she makes the big screen during Dance Cam. Like I need to feed her love of dancing anymore???

Three Stars:

Honorable Mention – Aaron Palushaj
3 – Brendan Bell (2 Assists, +2)
2 – Derek Armstrong (Gordie Howe Hat Trick, +2)
1 – Goalie Combo of Mason/Bishop

Pics are up on Facebook of Sunday’s Camp/Scrimmage and Tuesday’s Game

See you all Friday vs Colorado.

Looking ahead to the summer of 2010: Perron August 14, 2009

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This summer’s free agency market has put the Blackhawks between a rock and a hard place. The salary cap is being a cruel mistress to the up and coming team, while the lack of desire to lose the young talent making hockey popular in Chicago again is pushing back towards the rocks.

This made me think of the Blues. No, not just because of rivalry and the I-55 connection, but because next summer is our first real date with the salary cap mistress. First two going out on dates? David Perron and Erik Johnson. The team lightning rod and the original chosen one (sorry TJ,  EJ had the “buzz” first).

With talk of the Hawks, many Blues fans are looking at NHLSCAP, Capgeek, NHLNumbers…and wondering, where will the Blues find money for all these kids? What kind of contract can we expect? Well, we shouldn’t expect hometown discounts and Zetterberg type deals. The players won’t do that in their early 20’s (the y will ask for all they can get) and Front Office Brain Trust isn’t going to sign a 12 year deal any time soon.

The easiest way to compare is to look at similar players, like you would in an arbitration. What criteria are we looking at to gauge where David Perron might end up?
Age: age 25 or younger signing their first contract.
Position: Forward (Wing or Center apply)
Games played / Years of Service: Less than 3 full seasons, but at least surpassing 125 games played.
Production: Pacing between 40-60+ points a season over career.

Here are some players that fit the criteria.
David Krejci
David Booth
Chris Versteeg
David Moss
Curtis Glencross
Dave Bolland
Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Jordan Staal
Milan Michalek

Production Criteria:
Games played, Goals, Points, PP Points, points/game pace, % of teams point production in the 08-09 Season.

The chart below is a break down of the above players and offensive production criteria. Included is David Perrons stats from 2007-2009. Also included are three projections of David Perron’s career numbers after the 09-10 season. Perron’s figures for % of total team points in the projections would be based off of the 598 points total for the Blues players in 08-09.

Perron 1 = 80 GP – 15 Goals – 40 Points – 10 PP Points
Perron 2 = 80 GP – 20 Goals – 50 Points – 15 PP Points
Perron 3 = 80 GP – 25 Goals – 70 Points – 25 PP Points

Name NHL GP Goals Points PP Pts Pts/Game Pace % total Pts
Krejci 144 28 100 29 0.69 11%
Booth 193 56 110 18 0.52 10%
Versteeg 91 24 57 16 0.63 7%
Moss 163 34 68 15 0.42 6%
Glencross 145 29 66 7 0.46 6%
Bolland 121 23 64 4 0.53 7%
Bouchard 425 77 267 114 0.63 8%
Staal 245 63 119 19 0.49 7%
Michalek 317 91 214 70 0.68 8%
Perron 143 28 77 20 0.54 8%
Perron 1 223 43 117 30 0.52 7%
Perron 2 223 48 127 35 0.57 8%
Perron 3 223 53 147 45 0.66 12%

Name Contract
Krejci 3 years – $3.75mil
Booth 4 years – $4.25mil
Versteeg 3 years – $3.066mil
Moss 3 years – $1.30mil
Glencross 3 years – $1.20mil
Bolland 5 years – $3.375mil
Bouchard 5 years – $4.08mil
Staal 4 years – $4.00mil
Michalek 6 years – $4.30mil

Perron as of the conclusion of the 08-09 Season is very similar to Glencross, Bolland, and Krejci. That would put him in a range of $1.3mil to $3.5mil per season, if he his contract would have been up this summer. When projecting out Perron we see some interesting numbers. Perron would compare similarly to Jordan Staal and Versteeg,  if he were to regress or sustain his current production levels. His contract range there would be roughly $3mil to $4mil. Should he surpass production levels in 09-10, his offensive production would be put in to comparison with Bouchard, Michalek, Booth and Krecji. Putting him in a range of $3.75mil to $4.25mil.

Surpassing his 08-09 production would put Perron in very similar territory to David Booth. Both offensive, younger wingers who score goals. Perron would have an edge over Booth in total points produced, but you can equate that to a better team and a better power play. Would it then be fair to say that Perron would surpass David Booths contract? Could Perron command over $4.25mil per? Statistically, I think you can say “yes, he would”. However, I wouldn’t understatement JD, Larry, Doug, and company getting David to agreeing early to an extension at a lower than market rate. Similar to what Ray Shero did with Jordan Staal. Imagine the money Jordan could have asked for playing a shut down center who can score 20 or more Goals on a Stanley Cup winner…at the age of 20.

I wouldn’t fret just yet Blues fans. There will be plenty of money for David and plenty left down the road for TJ, Patrick and crew. One player we can point to, to see a smaller contract figure, would be our very own Brad Boyes.  Admittedly, Brad would be slightly different since he was a UFA. However, if we work with the 3rd Perron projection, their numbers are similar.

Name NHL GP Goals Points PP Pts Pts/Game Pace % total pts
Perron 3 223 53 147 45 0.66 12%
Boyes 245 86 180 50 0.73 *12%

*65 Boyes Points/545 Total Blues Points in the 07-08 Season.

Boyes has a definite advantage in Goals, but Perron isn’t dramatically far behind in total points or % of the teams points. With Boyes producing better numbers and signing for less than Michalek, Booth, and Bouchard, it is possible to see Perron fall to the lower range of the contract amounts.

Based on other players of similar age, role, and production it is safe to say Perron would likely garner a $3.50 mil to $4.25 mil per year contract in the summer of 2010. Where he signs at is likely determined by his production throughout the 09-10 season and if the Blues can get David to agree to an extension before the season ends. So again, fear not, as the fearsome in white skates will continue to wear the Blue Note for years to come. We just might want to watch out for Berglund should he surpass expectations the next two seasons.

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.

Is this real? June 23, 2009

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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.

The 2009 NHL Draft: St. Louis Blues Preview June 21, 2009

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2009 Blues NHL Draft Preview
by Mark Massa (aka STL fan in IA)

Now that the Stanley Cup playoffs are over, it’s time to focus on the upcoming NHL Draft which will take place on June 26 & 27 in Montreal.  While it will be years before we know just how good the 2009 draft will be, it has been heralded to have the potential to be a well above average draft for a few years now.  After three years of entering the draft with top 10 selections, the Blues currently hold the 17th overall selection in this draft after an exciting season which saw them climb from 15th in the Western Conference midway through the season to finish in 6th place by the end of the season and their first playoff berth since the lockout.  While the Blues are likely to miss out on the big dogs of this draft unless they are able to move up in the draft significantly (don’t count on it), there should still be many quality options available to them at the 17th position.  With how deep and wide open (insert joke here) this draft is, there is a whole slew of players who could easily be considered the best player available when it’s the Blues turn to pick.  For that reason, I am going to profile 20 players that very well could be the Blues first round pick. Undoubtedly, a few will be selected before the Blues even get a crack at them but most should be available in the general range the Blues are selecting.

To start off, lets discuss a few guys that will likely be gone by the time the 17th pick comes along but could be available to the Blues if they fall a few spots past where they are projected to go or if the Blues trade up a few spots to get them followed by 17 others that could very well be the Blues first round selection.

Scott Glennie – Right Wing/Center, 6’1”, 180 lbs, Brandon, WHL – Glennie is a member of one of the most dangerous lines in junior hockey along with Wheat Kings teammates Brayden Schenn and Matthew Calvert..  Schenn gets most of the attention but Glennie actually outpaced Schenn in terms of points until he was knocked out with a broken elbow.  Glennie returned for the playoffs to post 18 pts in 12 games.  Glennie isn’t as well known for his toughness as Schenn is but he is a very good shooter, a deft play-maker, an above average skater, has top notch hockey sense, has a high compete level, above average stick handling ability and while I wouldn’t describe him as a power forward, his is willing to fight his way into the dirty areas to score goals and make plays.  Like a lot of 18 year olds, he still has quite a bit of filling out yet to do but of all of the players that are at least somewhat likely for the Blues to get, Glennie would be my pick.

John Moore – Defense, 6’2”, 189 lbs, Chicago, USHL – John Moore is another young man who’s seen his draft stock consistently rise throughout the season.  While there’s a good chance he will already be gone by the time it’s the Blues’ turn to pick, if he’s still available, he should be at or near the top of the list as the best player available.  The first thing one notices when watching Moore play is his skating ability.  He is very fluid, mobile, and if he is caught out of position, he can regain his position with his speed.  He has a good shot from the point and seems to be adapting well to the position of defense as he is a converted forward although he does need to improve his play in the defensive zone and I would like to see him increase his physicality.  Still, he has the potential to develop into a top pairing defenseman in the NHL.  He will either play college hockey for Colorado College or join the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers next season.  While I am not quite as high on Moore as some others, I do like his potential quite a bit and he would be a very good pick for the Blues in my opinion.

Zack Kassian – Right Wing, 6’3”, 210 lbs, Peterborough, OHL – Kassian is a prototypical power forward.  While his draft stock has been rising as of late and it is likely he is already taken when the 17th pick comes around, it is possible he’s still on the board given the depth of this draft.  Kassian is a very intense player who is not only very physical but one of the best fighters in the OHL.  Zack had 63 points in 61 games to go along with his 136 penalty minutes for the Petes this season but had a rather disappointing playoffs.  He has an intriguing combo of skill and size.  He is a good stickhandler, good playmaker, average skater, and is not afraid to go right through people to get to the net.  Like all prospects, he still has a lot to prove but the future is bright for Kassian.  He had a respectable 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 games at the U-18’s.  Kassian would be a good selection for the Blues if available.

Jacob Josefson – Center, 6’0”, 187 lbs, Djurgarden, SEL – Josefson is a highly skilled two-way center who doesn’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game.  He has always been a high level scorer in juniors and this season in the SEL, he put up 5 goals and 11 assists in 50 games for Djurgarden.  After a disappointing U-20 tournament in which he was battling the flu, he added 7 points in 6 games at the U-18 Championships.  He has a very high hockey IQ which allows him to read the ice well.  He is more of a playmaker than sniper, is an above average skater and is an good stickhandler.   Josefson might not have the top end offensive skills as a few of the players likely to be selected at the top of this draft, but he projects to be a good scoring line player who is also very responsible defensively.  He’s very smart, creative and plays a mature game.  His game reminds me quite a bit of Lars Eller although I would say he’s a little ahead of where Eller was at his age.  Josefson needs to fill out a little bit but he would be a fine selection for the Blues to add to their stable of top notch prospects.

David Rundblad – Defense, 6’2”, 190 lbs, Skelleftea, SEL – Rundblad is a highly skilled offensive defenseman.  After putting up 15 points in 10 games for Skelleftea’s junior team early on this season, he was promoted to the top club and put up 10 points, all assists, in 45 games.  This is pretty impressive for someone who didn’t even turn 18 until partway through the season.  He is a good skater, moves the puck well, is a good stick handler, and has very high hockey IQ.  He joins the rush quite often which sometimes leads to him getting caught in too deep when play turns the other direction.  He will need to shore up his defensive game to avoid being a power play specialist but that shouldn’t be a problem.  He is a right-handed shot which is coveted at the defensive position and while he does need to improve his physical game, he is improving all aspects of his game at a good pace.  I would have absolutely no problem with the Blues selecting Rundblad.

Tim Erixon – Defense, 6’2”, 190 lbs, Skelleftea, SEL – Perhaps considered a bit of an “off the board” pick at 17 but I could definitely see him being a guy Blues scouting director Jarmo Kekeleinen and head European scout Ville Siren would like.   The son of former NHLer Jan Erixon, Tim is a very solid two-way defenseman.  While not as offensively flashy as Skelleftea teammate David Rundblad, he does posses good offensive skills while also being solid defensively.  At the recent U-18 World Championships, he led all defensemen with 9 pts in 6 games (3 goals, 6 assists) and was named to the tournament all-star team.   Erixon has top notch hockey sense, moves the puck out of the defensive zone well, likes to join the rush, and is very mobile with good size.  I like his overall game a little more than Rundblad’s and see him developing into a good 2nd pairing NHL defenseman in a few years.

Chris Kreider – Left Wing/Center, 6’2”, 201 lbs, Andover Prep HS – What Kreider possess is the rare combination of skill, size and speed.  What he lacks is quality of competition.   While scouts have marveled at his skills, it’s hard to get a true read on him as he’s playing New England Prep high school hockey instead of Junior hockey.  The main question concerning Kreider is, will his skills translate to higher levels?  Some scouts have claimed Kreider is the fastest skater in the draft ahead the likes of Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, John Moore and Matt Duchene.  At 6’2”, 201 lbs, he also possesses good size and will only get bigger.  He has a rocket of a wrist/snap shot, good stick handling abilities, excellent hockey sense and even though he is primarily known for his scoring, he’s also a good playmaker as well.  Kreider is committed to attend Boston College.  As he had to repeat his sophomore year of schooling upon transferring from Masconomet HS to Andover Prep to play a higher level of hockey, he originally wasn’t going to begin his college career until the 2010-11 season but is now trying to take a few extra classes this summer to obtain a degree from Masconomet so that he can start at Boston College in the fall.  Whether Masconomet will grant Kreider his HS diploma is yet to be determined.  Don’t be confused though, the kid’s no dummy.  He was recruited by Harvard, Boston University and a few other highly prestigious institutions.   He performed very well at the NHL Combine in the physical portion while the general notion is that he also performed well in his interviews.  While it will likely be 2-3 seasons before he is ready to turn pro and he does present a risk given his level of competition, he could very well end up being one of the better players drafted in 2009.  With a lot of young forwards already on the team and in the pipeline, the Blues have the luxury to take a guy who won’t contribute at the NHL level right away while also having the luxury of taking more of a homerun type of pick (high risk/high reward) instead of a safer type of pick (low risk/medium reward) if they so choose.  Kreider would be a very intriguing choice for the Blues.

Peter Holland – Center, 6’2”, 185 lbs, Guelph, OHL – Holland is another player with power forward potential.   While he’s not nearly as physical as feller OHLer Zack Kassian, he does have the size and ability to develop into an NHL power forward.  He scored at a point per game pace this season while displaying good skating, a nice shot, good hands and good defensive ability.  What Holland lacks is consistency.  Oftentimes, his effort seemed to be lacking so there are some concerns about his compete level which culminated with a poor playoff performance which resulted in Guelph getting swept in the first round of the OHL playoffs.  While this is something many other draftees have overcome it is something to watch out for.   While not much is reported regarding the interview portion of the NHL Combine, there were hints that Holland overall did not interview well and displayed an attitude.  While he does have some red flags to be wary of, he does have a lot of skill.  I remember quite a few being concerned with Getzlaf’s attitude in 2003 which allowed him to fall all the way to 19th overall and the Ducks have been thankful for that ever since.  Could Holland be the same way?  Possibly, but you can never know and I don’t think Holland’s as talented as Getzlaf was 6 years ago.  He would be a decent but riskier pick for the Blues.

Carter Ashton – Left/Right Wing, 6’3”, 205 lbs, Lethbridge, WHL – Ashton’s a big boy and has a hockey pedigree as his father Brent played almost 1000 NHL games.  Carter is considered to have a little more offensive skill than his dad did.  While he does fit the power forward role he would improve his cause if he ran people over a little more.  His skating has improved but isn’t anything above average.   Ashton has good overall skills, fairly high hockey IQ, is decent defensively and has a nose for the net.  He scored 30 goals but only 20 assists in 70 games for Lethbridge this season.  Some wonder just how much his offense will translate to the pro game.   He has a good amount of potential but like a lot of power forward types, he’ll need a good amount of time to develop.  He would be a decent pick for the Blues depending on who all else is also available.

Louis Leblanc – Center, 6’0”, 178 lbs, Omaha, USHL – Leblanc is a classic two-way center from Quebec who chose the USHL to maintain his NCAA eligibility.  He scored 28 goals and 31 assists in 58 games for the Lancers while nabbing USHL rookie of the year honors while also leading the league in +/- at +33.  Leblanc is a good stickhandler while also showing adept skills at protecting the puck with his body.  He makes plays at top speed which is oftentimes what separates those that make it in the NHL from those that don’t.  His speed is decent and while he does need to add bulk, he does ok with the physical part of the game.  His potential is that of a good second liner or a very good third liner.  With his overall set of skills and work ethic, he’s a pretty safe bet to be an NHLer.  He’ll be playing college hockey at Harvard next season and would be a good, safe pick for the Blues.

Landon Ferraro – Center/Right Wing, 6’0”, 170 lbs, Red Deer, WHL – Ferraro is another name one should recognize as his father, Ray Ferraro, played 17 years in the NHL.  The younger Ferraro scored 55 points in 68 games for a very week Red Deer Rebels team this season.  Ferraro’s main attribute is his two-way play.  He’s pretty responsible defensively while also being dangerous offensively.  Ferraro is a very good skater which was displayed when he won the fastest skater competition at the CHL Prospects Game.  In addition to that, he has good hockey sense, good stick handling skills, a very strong work ethic and good character.  The main question on him is where he’ll top as an NHLer.  I see him as a 2nd/3rd line tweener but with the potential to be more than that.  Many say has possesses untapped offensive skill and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a breakout season next year.   He’s not the biggest and needs to fill out more but that’s expected for a 17 year old.   While perhaps not the player with the highest long-term potential, he would be a safe pick for the Blues at 17.

Calvin de Haan – Defense, 6’0”, 170 lbs, Oshawa, OHL – de Haan in an intriguing prospect.  He was an OHL rookie this season and put up an impressive 63 points in 68 games as a defenseman for the bottom dwelling Oshawa Generals.  Many attributed his offensive success to teammate John Tavares but when Tavares was traded to London, de Haan’s play improved even more which is all the more impressive since he had to take on more responsibility as defenseman Michael Del Zotto was also a part of the package going to London.  He really needs to hit the weight room but he has very high potential.  He has a good point shot, is a smooth and agile skater, moves the puck out of the defensive zone well and has top notch hockey sense.   He’s not very big and scouts have concerns about his size but as long as he can add the necessary muscle, his skills and excellent hockey sense should make him a dangerous NHLer.  I would not be disappointed in the least if the Blues selected de Haan as I really like his potential.

Stefan Elliott – Defense, 6’1”, 180 lbs, Saskatoon, WHL – Elliott is an offensive defenseman known for his puck moving ability and speed.  What a lot of observers question though is his defensive game.  Right now, he is pretty one-dimensional in that he will need to shore up his defensive game quite a bit before hitting the NHL.  Like most draft eligible kids, he also needs to add bulk and strength.   One thing he has is a lot of talent.  He’s a quality skater, makes good outlet passes, can rush the puck when needed, is a good stickhandler, has above average hockey sense and is a good PP QB.  I am a little concerned about his defensive game but that’s something that can be taught as long as he’s willing to learn.  What can’t be taught are his instincts and head for the game.  I think he’s a little underrated and while he’ll likely need a couple years before being NHL ready, he could be a surprise pick for the Blues at 17.

Ethan Werek – Center, 6’1”, 190 lbs, Kingston, OHL – Werek is a guy that really came on as the season progressed.  After getting adjusted in his first OHL season and after Doug Gilmour took over behind the Kingston bench, Werek’s play improved quite a bit, finishing the season with 32 goals and 32 assists in 66 games.  He’s tenacious, aggressive on the puck, back-checks well, has excellent on-ice awareness, is a good stick handler, and has a very high hockey IQ as he always seems to be in the right position to make a play.  His skating isn’t the best but he skates hard – shows up for every shift.  After his OHL season, Werek had a good showing for Canada at the U-18 tournament with 6 pts in 6 games.  A year ago he committed to go to Boston University but changed his mind and went the OHL route instead.  He doesn’t get as much hype as a lot of other guys but I think he’s very underrated and could develop into a good NHLer – probably a 2nd line winger, and with his good intangibles like his effort and tenacity, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Blues took him at 17th overall.

Jeremy Morin – Left Wing, 6’1”, 189 lbs, USNTDP U-18 Team – Morin does one thing very well, which is score goals.  He’s arguably the second best sniper in this draft behind John Tavares which shows as he led the U-18 team in goals (33) and points (59) in 55 games.  Morin has a very hard and accurate shot, handles the puck well, is fairly good defensively, and displays pretty good hockey sense.  His skating is average and he needs to get more consistent.  I’ve seen him take a few too many shifts off.  When he’s on though, he’s very good.  Morin was one of four players suspended from the U-18 team for 3 games.  Apparently the group of four had a couple female friends in their hotel room which is against team rules.  My understanding of the story is that it was not that big of a deal.  Morin had a successful U-18’s for the gold medal winning Americans with 6 goals and 4 assists in 7 games.  He will be joining the Kitchener Rangers next season.  As long as the Blues are comfortable with Morin’s character after doing the necessary homework on him, he would be a decent pick for them.  He has some red flags to his game that might hold him back but he could also be quite the homerun pick as well.

Kyle Palmieri – Right Wing/Center, 5’10”, 191 lbs, USNTDP U-18 Team – Palmieri is another player that has very good all-around offensive skills.  He has a good shot, is a very good skater, is very tenacious, never gives up on plays, has good hockey sense, keeps good positioning and handles the puck well.  Palmieri is a little undersized but is solid and strong on his skates with a very strong lower body.  Like a lot of his teammates, he also had problems conforming to team rules and was dismissed from the NTDP in February.  No official explanation has been given but word is that Palmieri was made an example of as he didn’t rat out his teammates concerning underage drinking.  The general consensus is that most are not concerned with Palmieri’s character and that he learned from the experience.  Instead of returning home to New Jersey after his dismissal, he finished his year of high school in Ann Arbour so that he could be around his teammates even though he wasn’t playing on the team anymore.  He will start his college career with Notre Dame next season.  I don’t see Palmieri as having the most top end potential of players that are likely to be available to the Blues in the first round but he’s a good overall player, would be a relatively safe selection and I see him developing into a good 2nd line winger in the NHL in a few years.

Drew Shore – Center, 6’3”, 190 lbs, USNTDP U-18 Team – Shore a player with a good mix of skill and toughness.  He’s a big kid although he needs to add some more weight.  He’s tough to play against, plays a good physical game, is a good skater, is tenacious on the forecheck, and finishes his checks well.  His offensive skills are good but not eye-popping.  Most of his points are generated from his physical play and speed.  He also needs to work on his consistency a bit.  Shore has the potential to be a power forward in the NHL but I could also see his offense not translating enough to the point that I could see him also being a tough 3rd line type who frustrates the opposing team with his physical play while still contributing a respectable amount of offense.  He would not be a bad pick for the Blues at 17 but I like a few guys better.  He had a good U-18 tournament with 9 points in 7 games (2 goals) and will play his college hockey at the University of Denver.

Simon Despres – Defense, 6’4”, 205 lbs, Saint John, QMJHL – Despres is an individual whose stock is all over the map.  Some have him pegged to go in the top 15 of the draft while others see him as falling to the second round.  After a disappointing U-18 tournament, there’s a good chance he’ll be available at 17th overall.  Whether he would be a good selection there is up for debate.   Despres possesses a lot of size, is a good skater, has good on ice vision but he needs to improve his shot and consistency.  After many impressive streaks of play, he oftentimes left scouts wanting more.  If he is able to fulfill his untapped potential, he has the ability to be a top pairing NHL defenseman but his wide range of play is baffling.

Zach Budish – Right Wing, 6’2.5”, 229 lbs, Edina HS – Budish could be considered the wild card of wild cards.  Not only is he a high school player which makes it hard enough to judge him, but he also missed his entire senior season with a torn ACL he sustained playing high school football.  Prior to the winter hockey season in Minnesota, the very best players typically play in the Minnesota HS Elite League in the fall.  Kreider played in this league for Team South West in conjunction to playing football and in 15 games before his ACL injury, he had 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points.   Quite simply, he’s an absolute force physically and understandably, is hard to knock off the puck.  He isn’t the fastest skater but has a rocket of a shot.  His knee appears to be fully healed as he was one of the better performers at the NHL Combine a few weeks ago.  NHL Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee remarked that Budish reminds him of Keith Tkachuk and David Backes at the same age.  Budish will take his game to the University of Minnesota next season.  While there is a lot to like about Busish, how comfortable teams are with him given his lack of playing time this season is a mystery.  He would be a surprise pick at 17.

Charles-Oliver Roussel – Defense, 6’1”, 200 lbs, Shawinigan, QMJHL – Roussel had a very solid year for Shawinigan with 44 points in 68 games as a defenseman with an even more impressive playoff campaign with 12 points in 9 games.  He displays good overall skills with his passing and decision making being the most noticeable.  I would like to see him be a little more consistent in the defensive zone though.  He’s another right-handed shot defenseman while also likely being the youngest player in the draft.  If he had been born 3 days later, he wouldn’t be draft eligible until next year.  Given that he is quite a bit younger than a lot of the other kids eligible for this draft and how he improved throughout the year, I could see him ultimately surpassing quite a few players likely to be drafted ahead of him a few years down the road.  He would definitely be a surprise pick at 17 but he has a lot of upside.  Ultimately though, it is likely he is passed over by the Blues in the first round but is then no longer available once their second round pick comes along.

There you have it.  If the Blues first round selection isn’t one of these twenty guys then it’s going to be a rather off the board pick.  As mentioned before, this is one of the deeper drafts in a number of years so there will be many quality players around well into the second round.  After the first round is over, I will give some analysis on the Blues pick as well as forecast the Blues’ options for the second round and beyond.  Not to get too far ahead of myself but some names to keep in mind for the second round are: Tomas Tatar, Ben Hanowski, Anton Lander, Erik Haula, Eric Gelinas, Alex Chiasson, Jerry D’Amigo, Seth Helgeson, Richard Panik and Marcus Johansson among others.

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.

Thought of the Day 06-18-09: Winchester vs Stastny June 19, 2009

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All the talk of Keith Tkachuk Re-Signing soon should spur some additional thought in the minds of Blues fans.

Assuming Tkachuk is back for at least the 09-10 Season, the Blues have the following forwards under contract:
McDonald – Backes – Boyes
Perron – Berglund – Oshie
Kariya – Tkachuk – Steen
Stastny – McClement – ?

The question mark is that extra 3rd/4th line “grinder”. That guy who plays most of the season checking hard, seeing a little special teams play, a role player. Who could fill that role?

The likeliest answer is an internal source. Someone already in the system or a player on last year’s roster who is now a Free Agent. The Blues have BJ Crombeen, Brad Winchester, DJ King, Chris Porter, and Cam Paddock. I am sure I’m missing someone, but those are who come to mind as NHL level fillers who have done this role before.

Before getting too much in to this (and I know the title has told you where I am going), we need a few more assumptions.
1. Blues Re-Sign BJ Crombeen since he is a RFA. Lets just assume 3 years at $900k, $1.0 mil, $1.25mil, totaling $3.15mil which would be a $1.05mil cap hit.
2. The Blues liked the success they had using a larger, more physical line up.
3. Stastny, King, and Janssen are all “up” after the 09-10 season and would be potential targets to lose their roster spot to maintain team size.

You can be pretty sure that King isn’t a target. He has size, can play, fight, and is a RFA after 09-10. Leaving the Blues with Janssen vs. Stastny. Janssen has a clear role to be a fighter and isn’t needed in that many games. Janssen is also a RFA after 09-10, so if the Blues want to keep him, he is a cheaper buy than Stastny (in theory).

Now we are at Winchester vs. Stastny and our question is:

Does the size and production of Winchester equal more of a benefit than Stastny already being under a smaller contract?

Lets take a look at where both players stand in terms of being an asset to the team.

Big body to work the boards, corners, and get to the net.
Posses a pretty quick shot.
Willing to hit and take a hit.
Offensive production from the “bottom 6”.
Can play on the power play.
Has Playoff experience.

Small, quick skater.
Can play the PK effectively.
Has speed to fore-check.
Could play Center or Wing.
Responsible defensively.

Factors Against Each Player:

Winchester – Tkachuk and Crombeen Re-Signed. AHL depth under contract (Porter, Paddock, etc). UFA and could get bigger contract offers from other teams. Kariya added to power play likely pushes Winchester in to less power play time, therefore reducing his production. Giving a “grinder’ a raise and paying him more than someone else who could potentially do the same job for less.

Stastny – Blues have multiple effective penalty killing forwards in McClement, Steen, Oshie, Backes, and Crombeen. Patrik Berglund could also be thrown in to the mix next year. Must pass through waivers go to Peoria. Small size with limited offensive upside.

The wild card is the contract. Stastny is signed, done deal. Winchester would require the Blues to add him, at a higher rate than Stastny, and then move Stastny or Janssen off the roster.  At this point, this is where you “gamble” (I use that term loosely because losing Yan wouldn’t destroy the organization) and bring back Winchester at more money and find a way to move down or out Stastny.

There seems to be little doubt that Murray found the right buttons to push Winchester to the next level, to become a better player. Winchester has the size the Blues need to maintain till the team is better equiped to play the “Red Wing style” of quick transition and possession. You cannot win if you don’t score and scoring depth is a need in the new NHL. Winchester proving 12-15 or so goals from the bottom 6 is a huge bonus to the team. Certainly those extra goals and physical presence are worth an extra $500,000.

Now this could all be a moot point, Winchester could pass on the Blues offer and go elsewhere. However I think the Blues want his size back and Winchester wants to come back. I think this might be one of the few instances where you reward the “grinder” and give him the raise. Yes, his roster spot can be filled for cheaper, but what he brings back is worth the investment.

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: 05-27-09 May 28, 2009

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How should the Blues play?
by beatoni12

Watching the playoffs and seeing teams advance using different styles of playing hockey got me thinking about how I want the Blues to play. Now I’m not talking about structure or defensive schemes, I’m talking about the physical side of hockey and how each team decides to use this. The last two Cup winners used completely different tactics. Anaheim tried to intimidate and probably tried harder after the whistle than during the actual play. Detroit doesn’t pay any attention to intimidation and their players almost completely shut down once the whistle blows. Both have been shown to be effective.

The Blues currently play a style closer to Anaheim’s method. They are never afraid to drop the gloves and initiate confrontation quite often. Anyone who watches playoffs understands that penalty trouble absolutely kills teams (unless you are playing the Blues this year). Detroit goes out of there way to avoid penalties and make it very hard to argue with their success this year and last. But do Blues fans want to go to this style of play? If it means winning a cup, I’m sure most fans would gladly make the trade. Personnel has a lot to do with it and I don’t see the Blues building a team that will play like that. No other team in the league would be able to be successful if they tried to play like Detroit, and Detroit wouldn’t be nearly as successful if they tried to play like the Blues or Ducks.

In my eyes, we are building the ideal team for a fan base to really embrace. Many of our rookies showed they are willing to mix it up. Crombeen threw knuckles quite often, Polak played a very punishing style, and Perron and Oshie both jumped into scrums very quickly. I don’t think that Oshie would be nearly as popular if he played a methodical puck possession style of play. I personally wouldn’t want to replace DJ King and Winchester on our 4th line with players like Maltby (who has turned into a puck possession type player).

Connecting to a team is the best part of being a fan. Most hockey fans are going to connect to a very hard working, get dirty if it has to, team. This is pro sports, so winning really is everything. But winning with the type of players and team that the Blues are building will be that much more gratifying. It doesn’t make sense but I wouldn’t trade this Blues team for the current Wings team.

So how should the Blues change their style of play ? They shouldn’t.