When the NHL Board of Governors and NHLPA finally vote and sign the new CBA into effect, there will be little time for team GM’s to make the necessary moves to complete their teams. In particular, the teams left with the remaining restricted free agents (RFA’s) will be in a mad rush to sign their players. The problem is fitting some of these players into the new salary cap that the NHL will put into place starting with next season.
Below is a list of all remaining Free Agents, including Restricted Free Agents:
|Jesse Winchester||Ottawa Senators||Center||29|
|Dominic Moore||San Jose Sharks||Center||32|
|Blair Betts||Philadelphia Flyers||Center||32|
|Jochen Hecht||Buffalo Sabres||Center||35|
|Daymond Langkow||Phoenix Coyotes||Center||36|
|Jason Arnott||St. Louis Blues||Center||38|
|Brad Winchester||San Jose Sharks||Left wing||31|
|Marco Strum||Florida Panthers||Left wing||34|
|Kristian Huselius||Columbus Blue Jackets||Left wing||34|
|Mathieu Darche||Montreal Canadiens||Left wing||36|
|Brian Rolston||Boston Bruins||Left wing||39|
|Andrew Brunette||Chicago Blackhawks||Left wing||39|
|Tomas Holmstrom||Detroit Red Wings||Left wing||39|
|Jason Blake||Anaheim Ducks||Left wing||39|
|Jonathon Cheechoo||St. Louis Blues||Right wing||32|
|Eric Godard||Dallas Stars||Right wing||32|
|Matt Bradley||Florida Panthers||Right wing||34|
|Radek Dvorak||Dallas Stars||Right wing||35|
|Petr Sykora||New Jersey Devils||Right wing||36|
|Mike Knuble||Washington Capitals||Right wing||40|
|Chris Campoli||Montreal Canadiens||Defense||28|
|Kurtis Foster||Minnesota Wild||Defense||31|
|Kurt Sauer||Phoenix Coyotes||Defense||31|
|Randy Jones||Winnipeg Jets||Defense||31|
|Jim Vandermeer||San Jose Sharks||Defense||32|
|Jeff Finger||Toronto Maple Leafs||Defense||32|
|Kent Huskins||St. Louis Blues||Defense||33|
|Mike Commodore||Tampa Bay Lightning||Defense||33|
|Colin White||San Jose Sharks||Defense||34|
|Brett Clark||Tampa Bay Lightning||Defense||35|
|Mark Eaton||New York Islanders||Defense||35|
|Sean O’Donnell||Chicago Blackhawks||Defense||41|
|Brent Johnson||Pittsburgh Penguins||Goalie||35|
|Ty Conklin||Detroit Red Wings||Goalie||36|
|Marty Turco||Boston Bruins||Goalie||37|
|Dwayne Roloson||Tampa Bay Lightning||Goalie||43|
|Ryan O’Reilly||Colorado Avalanche||Center||21|
|Jamie Benn||Dallas Stars||Center||23|
|James Sheppard||San Jose Sharks||Center||24|
|Michael Del Zotto||New York Rangers||Defense||22|
|Dmitry Kulikov||Florida Panthers||Defense||22|
|P.K. Subban||Montreal Canadiens||Defense||23|
|Nick Petrecki||San Jose Sharks||Defense||23|
|Cody Franson||Toronto Maple Leafs||Defense||25|
|Brett MacLean||Phoenix Coyotes||Left wing||23|
|Nick Palmieri||Minnesota Wild||Right wing||23|
While the St. Louis Blues are a fairly complete team, if the opportunity to add to the roster came about, I don’t think Doug Armstrong would let it pass. The 2013 Blues are solid up front with more than enough depth to survive any injuries they may endure, but the back end is a bit more sparse. In the offseason, the Blues let Carlo Colliacovo and Kent Huskins part ways with the team. Carlo is best known for being injured (which by the way Detroit, he is out with an injury right now, sorry) so letting him go won’t have much effect on the team. Likewise, Kent Huskins spent most of his only season with the Blues on the disabled list with injuries, so he won’t be missed much either. The real question will be in Ian Cole and whether or not he is ready for a full time NHL Position.
Enter the possibility, albeit a very, very, very small one, of the group of restricted free agents. Del Zotto, Kulikov, Subban, Franson, and Petrecki are all unsigned and will be asking for large contracts that their teams may not have the room for. None of these teams are going to let their players walk away, but they may consider a trade for another strong performer who won’t cost quite as much plus a draft pick or two. The Blues have been stock piling draft picks the past few seasons and Armstrong undoubtedly has a plan to use them in upcoming trades.
St. Louis knows that in the offseason of 2013 they will need to resign Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Stewart, Berglund, Russell, Cole, and D’Agostini too keep the young core together. Also up for new contracts would be McDonald, Langenbrunner, Nichol, and Porter (hopefully they opt to stop giving Porter the idea that he should be on the Blues). The Blues currently have some of the most room available in their cap space to fill any holes that they see, and with younger more impressive offensive players coming into the big club’s picture, it might be time to move one of the pieces that might not be necessary.
So who might the Blues part ways with? Well, as much as I personally wish they wouldn’t, Chris Stewart is a great candidate to move. Although he has the ability to be a top producer in the league, he has yet to show that he can actually deliver. The Blues gave him a one year prove it contract, but with the shortened season, there might not be much to prove. If the return item meant another of the NHL’s elite young defensive core to play alongside Pietrangelo or Shattenkirk, I don’t think I would miss Stewart very much at all.
Another option might be Patrik Berglund. Until last year’s playoffs, it was hard to see if Berglund would really progress into the player that he was talked up to being. There is still some doubt as he often looks sluggish on the ice compared to the rest of the team. In the same regard, Alex Steen carries a somewhat larger price tag and has only recently begun to develop into the player many thought he could be. If his play matches last season I don’t see the Blues wanting to move him, but the option is still open as the Blues will need to make room for Schwarz in the near future.
Realistically, someone like D’Agostini could be moved without much hesitation, but would require assets along with him to get the caliber of player such as a Subban or Kulikov.
While I would love to see the Blues pick up one of these great remaining free agents, they almost certainly will not and this is probably the only mention of such an occurrence you will find, but a fan can dream, can’t they? So while the i’s are being dotted and the t’s crossed, let’s all hope that the Blues are busy thinking of this upcoming offseason and how they will keep this talented team together. And, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!