As a fan, the thought of a rebuild gives me goosebumps and makes it tough to swallow. I will do my best to fight through the anxiety and walk along this somewhat scary path and talk about a rebuild.
A few days ago I was eating lunch with my friend Ben Thornhill. He is a New York Jets fan, so we were talking about how they are most likely in a full on rebuild. He stopped and looked at me and asked, “Jared, how many years away do you think the next rebuild is for the Blues?”
I thought for a minute. Then I pulled up my phone and searched capfriendly.com for the St. Louis Blues contract situation. As I looked at the current situation, I began to think to myself how I was going to answer.
Ben waited for an answer so I said, “Well it will not be in the next two years.”
I gave him a very vague answer and he seemed a little perplexed. So now that I have had time to think and research I will give my answer to his question down below.
Next Two Years (2017-2019)
***Side note: I will talk about the ‘core’ of the team. On top of that, I will talk about the Offensive Core (which we will call the O-Core) and the Defensive Core (which we will call the D-Core).***
First let’s get into the Core of the team. In my eyes, the core consists of Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester, and Jake Allen. If I had to throw in another player as sort of a wildcard, I would add in Brayden Schenn, partly because he is a new player and his contract is that of (what I perceive to be) a core player.
Now, start by taking a look at the O-Core. If we take a look at the contracts of all the forwards, we will see that only two players in the O-Core have expiring contracts. The two players being Stastny and Fabbri. The Blues will more than likely sign Fabbri, but that brings up the question: Will the Blues resign Paul Stastny?
Say the Blues do not resign Stastny and instead give a full time spot to one of their many prospects. That does not necessarily mean there is a hole in the O-Core but if the prospect that takes the empty spot does not pan out there would be a little dent in the core.
Off to the back end of the team, the D-Core. The only defensemen the Blues have signed longer than two years are Parayko and Pietrangelo. Joel Edmundson has the only contract of the D-Core set to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Edmundson will most likely get signed after this season. But what will the Blues do about the contracts expiring in two years?
I feel like Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson will not get resigned. On the other hand Robert Bortuzzo, in my eyes, should be resigned. This would leave two spots open for young prospects (i.e. Jordan Schmaltz and Vince Dunn). This could take the D-Core a step back for possibly two years.
Year 3-7 (2019-2023)
We have now discussed the next two years of the Offensive and Defensive Cores. What about the rest of the Core players?
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Steen’s contract will expire at the end of the 2020-21 season. He will be 37 by the time his contract is up. Let’s say at this age, Steen decides to hang ’em up. This opens up a spot that will either be refilled by a prospect the Blues have by this year or a free agent signing.
Schwartz’s contract ends the same year as Steen’s, however Jaden will only be 28. For the sole purpose of answering the question, let’s say Schwartz takes a look at free agency and signs with a different team. There is another spot for a roster player to take.
Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Sabotka
Again, both contracts are up after 2019-20 season and for the sake of the question, let’s say the Blues put themselves in a situation where they do not have the Cap space to resign either of them. There is two more open spots.
Berglund’s contract will end a year after Steen and Schwartz are out of town. At 33 in 2021, he may want a longer deal than the Blues will offer him so he tests the free agent market as well. That opens another spot.
Tarasenko has the longest existing contract but when it is done, we are going to assume that the Blues haven’t resigned any of the above players just to save money for Tarasenko. Therefore Vladimir Tarasenko will be the only member of the ‘original’ O-Core left.
Pietrangelo’s contract ends after the 2019-20 season. I feel like the Blues will most likely resign him since he is the captain. We all know what happened to David Backes though.
Parayko’s contract ends at the same time Patrik Berglund’s. By the time the contracts end, It would make more sense to me that St. Louis spends the money on a younger right handed defenseman rather than a older forward.
After Seven Years
After seven years, in my eyes, the remaining ‘original’ core members will be Tarasenko, Fabbri, Parayko, and Pietrangelo. But will the Blues necessarily need a rebuild?
Answering Ben’s Question
On one hand it is safe to say that a rebuild most likely will not occur in the next two years. However, there is always a possibility that the team misses the playoffs and Doug Armstrong blows up the core in the offseason. I do not see this happening.
Questions like this are always hard to answer because you can not look into the future. If I had to put a certain amount of time on this I’d have this answer:
If the Blues continue to draft the way they did in 2017, it is possible that they may have another long string of consecutive playoff appearances. Yet at the same time, if for some reason St. Louis’s scouting system begins to fall off and not make good picks in the draft, I’d have to say that the next rebuild could be with in the next five to seven years.