The St. Louis Blues have made several signings prior to the NHL free agency period. Along with Stewart and Jackman the Blues signed Center Scott Nichol. Maybe equally important the Blues reached an agreement with head coach Ken Hitchcock keeping him in St. Louis until 2014 if club options are picked up.
In a recent interview Hitchcock made reference to not signing players outside of the organization when what is on the current roster is equal or better in talent. I personally found the statement to mean Hitchcock has a lot of confidence in the talent the Blues currently have. It also explains the Blues signing of several soon to be free agents within the organization before they could hit the free agent market.
Anyone who watched the Blues play after Hitchcock took over as coach could see a huge improvement and a much more disciplined team. Hitchcock saying he likes what the Blues have on their roster currently leaves me believing Hitchcock expects this team to compete for the Stanley Cup in the upcoming season.
My biggest question might be can Hitchcock pull the talent out of Stewart for a full season. Stewart showed flashes last season of a player who could score 30-40 goals for the Blues. On the other hand Stewart’s poor play caused him to be benched for a playoff game, which you do not expect from someone who should be a team leader. So many of the Blues players seemed to excel under Hitchcock, but Stewart seemed to at times frustrate the coaching staff. I think the organization can see what the fans see in Stewart. He comes down the ice and can score a backhanded goal from an impossible angle, but have bad play the next game.
I for one was glad to see Stewart resigned and hope Hitchcock’s confidence in this current Blues roster includes getting the best play out of Stewart and him reaching the potential most see in him.