Apr 25, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie (74) shoots wide of the net against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues 2013-14: Some Parting Thoughts


St. Louis Blues skate the line with the Chicago Blackhawks

Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

― Rose Kennedy

As we all know, the St. Louis Blues bowed out early once again this year, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks despite having been up two games to none heading into Game 3. The ‘Hawks rattled off four wins in a row to oust the once Stanley Cup favored Blues in fashion eerily similar to their exit last season at the hands of the LA Kings.

In fact, a number of aspects of this season were strangely mirrored by previous campaigns:

  • High hopes in the pre-season and high expectations not only from St. Louis itself but the national hockey media.
  • High caliber play from the Blues in the regular season and a good start to the post-season, but failure to compete at a level high enough to continue deep into the playoffs.
  • Injuries to star players including concussion scares to top-line forwards.
  • Questions about everyone on the team “buying in” to the ultimate goal

The Blues made moves around last season’s trade deadline to improve their chances, trading for defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold. Both players stuck around for the 2013-14 season, though Leo missed a significant amount time with an injury. GM Doug Armstrong isn’t big on rental players and usually goes after guys he thinks fit the Blues and their longer term plans.

Apr 25, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

That approach puts the microscope on this year’s blockbuster deal that brought Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis in exchange for Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart. The latter had both failed to produce in St. Louis when it counted (i.e. in the playoffs) and Miller was thought to be the final piece of the puzzle that would launch the Blues into a deep run at the Cup.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein (possibly)

Now that hopes have been dashed, the club failing once again to fulfill its goals, big questions loom for next season and the future of the Blues. Will Miller sign and stay in St. Louis or will he end up amounting to a questionable rental? Does Steve Ott fit in what is potentially a log-jam of 3rd & 4th line forwards?

The Blues have a laundry list of Free Agents to deal with this off-season, and while some will obviously be back many of them likely have played their last game for St. Louis. Here are the UFA’s Armstrong & Co. will have to make decisions on by July 1 or they will be free to sign elsewhere:

St. Louis Blues Free Agents

PLAYER POS STATUS FROM TO AGE 2013 CAP HIT
Ryan Miller G UFA STL TBD 33 $1,153,846
Brenden Morrow LW UFA STL TBD 35 $1,500,000
Keith Aucoin C UFA STL TBD $9,615
Alexandre Bolduc C UFA STL TBD $550,000
Taylor Chorney D UFA STL TBD $600,000
Carlo Colaiacovo D UFA STL TBD 31 $425,897
Adam Cracknell LW UFA STL TBD $360,000
Brian Elliott G UFA STL TBD $1,800,000
Cade Fairchild D UFA STL TBD 25 $605,000
Christian Hanson C UFA STL TBD 28 $550,000
Steve Ott C UFA STL TBD 31 $680,769
Derek Roy C UFA STL TBD $4,000,000
Eric Selleck LW UFA STL TBD 26 $600,000

(source)

It’s been mentioned already that Army plans to talk with Miller about his interest in returning, but we also know Jake Allen will be in St. Louis next year, so Miller would probably have to agree on a short-term deal to stay. What about Brian Elliott? He’s been a loyal soldier and sat in the shadows without complaint. Should he get a chance to start again? Do the Blues have interest in bringing him back? Does HE want to come back?

Apr 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Cracknell was sent through waivers so he could return to the Chicago Wolves and aid them in their playoff push, which he’s done with flying colors already. He and Ott playa  similar game, is there room on the roster for both to get ice time next year? I’ll be shocked if either Brenden Morrow or Derek Roy return. The others on the list will either be re-signed for AHL depth or not, but none of them looks close to filling a role on the Blues.

St. Louis also has RFAs they’ll have to come to terms with, and this list includes guys seemingly integral to the future of the Blues:

PLAYER POS STATUS FROM TO AGE 2013 CAP HIT
Sergey Andronov LW RFA STL TBD 24 $627,500
Cody Beach RW RFA STL TBD $0
Patrik Berglund C RFA STL TBD $3,250,000
Pat Cannone C RFA STL TBD $625,000
Jaden Schwartz LW RFA STL TBD $830,000
Tyler Shattock RW RFA STL TBD 24 $605,000
Vladimir Sobotka C RFA STL TBD $1,300,000

(source)

Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka are a critical part of the core of this team right now. Patrik Berglund has run his course with the Blues and probably should be traded to get at least something in return, a draft pick maybe, rather than letting him simply walk. Army likes to give 1-year “Prove It” deals but Bergie had his last season and proved very little.

Big changes are in store for the Blues between now and September, and they already include some familiar faces behind the bench being sent packing:

 

 

We could also see changes to the core player group. To say leading scorers Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie failed to produce in the Chicago series would be an understatement.

The St. Louis Blues are not interested in rebuilding this franchise again right now. They feel they’re capable of competing for the Stanley Cup and winning it, but they’ll have to find a different approach or risk losing even more of their fan-base. Blues fans are some of the most loyal, heart-on-your-sleeve kinds of folks, but they can’t be faulted for being disgruntled today.

LONG LIVE THE NOTE!

 

Tags: NHL St. Louis Blues

  • Dashley R

    The countdown to next year begins…

  • Dashley R

    I’m guessing Sobie gets a raise somewhere between the 2.4-2.7 mill range and they give Schwartz a two or three year bridge contract. Will be fun to see how this all develops.