St. Louis Blues Free Agency 2015 Wrap Up


Finally, the end of the St. Louis Blues 2015 free agency series is upon us.

This series of articles has looked back at some of the biggest contract changes from this summer that affect the Blues moving forward. The pros and cons of head coach Ken Hitchcock’s one year contract were discussed. Vladimir Tarasenko’s eight-year $60 million contract was analyzed, and  the trade of T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals was broken down.

This year will be a breakout year for Dimitij Jaskin.

Some of the most recognizable names on the Blues roster were making headlines this summer for their contracts. While lucrative new deals are great for the players, the lack of attention to some of the smaller deals is really a shame.

It takes a whole team to win the Stanley Cup, not just a few star players.

The first day of free agency really focused on the whole team concept, as Chris Butler and Jori Lehtera each re-signed with the Blues. Aside from the big name contracts mentioned earlier, the rest of the summer also focused on stocking the Blues with players who can help win a Stanley Cup on a budget.

Cheap one year contracts for depth forwards were very common this summer. Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin both re-signed with the Blues for $700 thousand and $775 thousand respectively.

Nov 1, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Magnus Paajarvi (56) skates the puck out of the corner during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Paajarvi began the season with the Blues last season before being sent down to play with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. While with the Blues, Paajarvi recorded only one assist and no goals over ten games. When playing with the Wolves, he collected 29 points over 36 regular season games.

A poor start last year cost Paajarvi his spot with the Blues. Paajarvi had a good year once he got it going, and he even scored three goals and added an assist over five playoff games last season.

Paajarvi is a former 10th overall pick and he is tired of playing in the minors.

His strong finish last year earned him a one-way contract, meaning the Blues will not be able to move him between the NHL and AHL. Hopefully this will give him the peace of mind to improve his game at the NHL level. Even if he doesn’t improve, Paajarvi has the cheapest contract on the team.

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The Blues got a great deal out of re-signing Paajarvi. Hopefully he reaches his potential and helps the team. If not, they gave him a pay cut to be a healthy scratch for the season.

Unlike Paajarvi, 22 year-old Jaskin stayed with the Blues for all of last season. Over the 54 games he played, Jaskin scored 13 goals and added 5 assists. Jaskin played in all 6 of the Blues playoff games last year. In his first NHL playoff series he managed to notch his first playoff point by collecting an assist.

Jaskin has a lot of potential and showed flashes last year. His biggest problem was a lack of consistency.

Jaskin has been with the Blues for three years, but last year was the only year he received any significant playing time. With regular playing time, Jaskin is at the right time in his career to finally make a big impact.

This year will be a breakout year for Dimitij Jaskin.

Jaskin is Russian and he only came to America three years ago. I think that Jaskin is finally comfortable with his surroundings.

If Jaskin is adjusted to life in America and has a bit of experience playing in the NHL, he might just be at the point in his career when playing goes back to being fun instead of work. Having the opportunity to go and play your favorite sport professionally at 22 could just be the best thing he ever asked for.

Apr 16, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Dmitrij Jaskin (23) takes a shot against the Minnesota Wild in the third period in game one of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The Minnesota Wild defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Given steady playing time and consistent line-mates, I think that Jaskin will finally see the fun side of hockey again. When that happens, everyone will be happy.

Until then, the Blues have another young player with a lot of potential. The cheapness of the deal makes it a win for the Blues, but if Jaskin has a breakout year they will be regretting not signing him to a multi-year contract.

The summer of cheap forwards was not limited to re-signing players. On July 2 the Blues signed Kyle Brodziak to a one year $900 thousand contract.

At 31, Brodziak is a veteran. Having spent the last six seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Brodziak managed to collect at least 20 points in every full season. He tallied 12 over the lockout shortened 2013 season.

Brodziak is a veteran who will be a good presence in the locker room. Unfortunately, in his 10 years of NHL experience, Brodziak has only been to the playoffs three times. Over 27 games, Brodziak has 3 goals and 5 assists.

Jake Allen is the Blues goalie of the future

Solely based on his postseason numbers I think this signing was a horrible idea. The Blues have proven that physical play does not win in the playoffs time and time again. What the team needs is a steady supply of players who put points on the board, not people into the boards.

This article has covered the forwards. This series has broken down the defense. The one thing that has not been discussed is the goalie situation.

That was addressed when the Blues re-signed goalie Jake Allen to a two year $4.7 million contract.

This extension was the best thing that the Blues did all off-season. Allen led all rookies with 22 wins last season. On his way he set a Blues rookie record with 184:38 consecutive shutout minutes, and tied the Blues rookie record with four shutouts.

Allen had been waiting patiently in the AHL for his opportunity and last season it came around. After splitting time during the regular season with Brian Elliott, Allen was handed the starting position for the playoffs last season and the Blues lost in six games (yet again).

Yes the Blues lost in the first round with Allen in net. What doesn’t need to happen is the goalie witch hunt that seems to go through the Blues organization too regularly. Let’s look back at some of the goalies that the Blues have gone through in the last five years.

Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) shakes hands with Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) after game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Bishop was an up and coming goalie with the Blues when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators for a second round draft pick in 2012. Bishop was the starting goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring when they lost the Stanley Cup Final.

Two years later, Jaroslav Halak went to the Buffalo Sabres in a part of a large deal that brought Ryan Miller to St. Louis. Miller finished the season with the Blues on a bad note after a disappointing playoff performance. Halak went on to set a franchise record with the New York Islanders last season with 38 wins.

Since 2012 the Blues have let two great goalies leave the franchise and brought in a rental goalie who will forever be remembered as a St. Louis disappointment. It is time to stop tinkering with our lineup.

Jake Allen is the Blues goalie of the future. Blues supporters just hope he sticks around long enough to prove it.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Next: Rating St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong

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