St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong has showed an ability to stick with a sound plan to make the Blues stronger without mortgaging their future. It started with signing David Perron to a 4-year extension worth $15.25 million. The deal allowed the Blues to keep Perron through what should be his peak years as a player. The Blues also signed Perron when his stock was rising, for had they waited until after the 2012-2013 season the price tag could have been a lot more if Perron turns in a big year. Signing Perron to the extension now at what many consider a fair market value also keeps the Blues from taking a big cap hit in the future.
Most recently Doug Armstrong was able to ink a deal with T. J. Oshie before his arbitration date. The deal is for five years and reportedly around $21 million dollars. Oshie is also young at only 25 years old. Armstrong was able to sign Oshie when his stock was rising, and did not let Oshie hit free agency, where the price tag would have been exponentially higher.
Had Oshie gone to arbitration and then put up a season of 35 plus goals the Blues may not have been able to afford him when he became a free agent considering some of the contracts given to young forwards who have not reached their prime (Marian Gaborik comes to mind).
I believe Armstrong did a very good job in both contracts. He did not make these signings at the expense of the Blues future. Armstrong has shown a willingness to make smart moves in order to allow the Blues to be a good team for many years. It was not a huge surprise Armstrong was named General Manager of the year. He has helped rebuild a Blues organization, which for a short period appeared to be going nowhere.
What was considered one of Doug Armstrong’s first moves was to make a trade for goaltender Jaroslav Halak on June 17th, 2010. The move helped solidify the goaltending spot for the Blues at the time. He is also not one to shy away from tough choices, like when he traded Erik Johnson, a former first round pick, to the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues received forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the deal. Many might have forgotten about Erik Johnson by now, but last season Johnson played in 73 games scoring 4 goals and adding 22 assists. The key stat for any defenseman is plus/minus rating and Johnson’s was -7 last season. Although a risky proposition, the Blues made what appears to be the right choice of trading him, at least so far.
There are plenty of deals in between, but I think most fans can agree hiring Ken Hitchcock turned out to be the biggest move last season. Doug Armstrong had already worked with Hitchcock in Dallas, and both were part of the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship team.
Armstrong seems to be committed to painstaking evaluation of young talent the Blues possess, and young talent that can be picked up through the draft. I believe the Blues are in great shape with Doug Armstrong as the general manager, and will hopefully take that next step in the playoffs this coming season.