A lot of good news came to St. Louis Blues fans this week in the form of nice, shiny extensions for some of our best players who were slated to become restricted free agents. On Tuesday, May 31st news broke of Swedish center, and a fan favorite (depending on how he’s playing on certain days of the week…), Patrik Berglund being resigned with a 2 year contract extension, keeping him as a Blue through the 2012-2013 season. Two days later, June 2nd, rugged defenseman Roman Polak was offered a fairly sizable five year contract extension. Both players are absolutely critical to this team and have both served as players in the youthful foundation and both look to only expand their quality skills and grow as already notable NHL-ers. On the same day as the Polak news, reporters were informed that the Blues would like to offer a contract extension to another Czech player, the small but tenacious Vladimir Sobotka. Rumors of Sobotka’s contract extension offers are limited but the Blues are reportedly looking to give him a three year extension, something that the team would greatly benefit from thanks to Sobotka’s vital role, not just as a young developing player, but due to his bigger-than-stature play full of hits, hard-driving and talent in the face-off circle.
So, who’s left? As far as restricted free agents, the Blues still have to officially sign Sobotka, but also have TJ Oshie, BJ Crombeen, Ryan Reaves, Matt D’Agostini and Nikita Nikitin. This list may seem alarming to some, and deservedly so. Oshie is easily one of the most talented and skilled skaters on the team and offers more than just fancy skating, as he’s a proficient goal scorer as well. Fans (including many female suitors) are calling for a quick contract-extension to the blonde-locked center but a few dissenters have been apprehensive, thanks to his partying ways of the past, to offer him anything long term. Another big name that fans feel strongly for is the acquisition from the Montreal Canadiens, Matt D’Agostini. D’Agostini has been a wonderful asset to this team with his offensive strength. D’Agostini recorded an impressive 21 goals and 25 assists this season, his first full season as a Blue. Defense signings, though, are just as important as the goal-scorers of the team and the Blues have some tough decisions to make including whether or not to offer extensions to Ryan Reaves and Nikita Nikitin. I’ve been a huge supporter of both Reaves and Nikitin since watching them at the Blues last “summer camp”, prior to the 2010 season – both were impressive, especially for their young ages and different hockey backgrounds; Reaves being brought up through the Blues AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen and Nikitin going through Omsk’s (KHL) system since 2002. Both are strong, physical players, but differ in a few key ways. Reaves isn’t the flashiest of players but is insanely physical, never afraid to hit or be hit and is athletic all around. Nikitin is nearly as strong of a skater as Oshie but also plays the puck very well, and has a few offensive quirks about him that make him beneficial to the Note. [More after the jump...]
That being said, who are your picks for most important to sign next? GM Doug Armstrong was reported earlier this week as saying that these signings aren’t being done in a desperation move, just to assure that they sign vital players before the window closes/reopens for offers to be made. Any idea who should be next? Have a list of the RFA’s needed to be signed in order of importance? I want to see it. I’ll even give you mine – I feel it’s absolutely imperative the Blues resign TJ Oshie, Matt D’Agostini, Nikita Nikitin and Ryan Reaves (this is also in my order of importance). Notice there’s no BJ Crombeen on that list. While I love my fake-tooth buddy (we are literally missing the same tooth, he’s even asked me to “take mine out”, alas I don’t have mine on a built in retainer type thing like he does…) and feel that he’s an important part of this team, my heart will not be completely broken and befuddled without him. Is he a strong, passionate player? Yes, but I don’t feel that he’s vital. It might be time to fill his spot with a bigger role player. What do you think? Leave comments below!