The St. Louis Blues continue to surprise. While other teams are playing wait and see, Doug Armstrong is signing deals.
The St. Louis Blues continue to be one of the busier teams during this break in play for the 2019-20 season. Just a day after signing Sammy Blais to a two-year extension, Doug Armstrong added another signing before the ink was completely dry on Blais’ contract.
Personally, I have no real issue with the money given to Scandella. It is the same amount the Blues were using toward the cap for Jay Bouwmeester and although the sample size was small, Scandella was providing roughly the same thing Bouwmeester brought.
The comparison is slightly unfair. When both careers are over, it seems likely Bouwmeester will be viewed more highly by both Blues fans and hockey fans and that is regardless of the heart situation.
However, for how they played in recent times, Scandella fit into Bouwmeester’s spot like he was made for it. It was definitely a square peg in a square hole.
“You’re trying to build a team that has all sorts of different elements,” Armstrong said, as reported by Jim Thomas. “Marco gave us an element that we had in Jay, and now we have that moving forward. We like that style of defenseman – the rangy guys that have got good sticks and have good feet.”
On top of the on the ice success fitting in, there might not have been a player that transitioned to a new team more smoothly than Scandella did with the Blues. His trade was not as impactful as someone like Ryan O’Reilly or Brayden Schenn, but those guys took time to feel at home in St. Louis. Scandella just appeared in the locker room one day and acted like he’d played his entire career here (in a positive way).
The slightly shocking thing about the deal is the length. Four years is just about right for a 30-year old, under normal circumstances.
With the cap situation completely in flux, it seems odd for the Blues to lock themselves into anything more than two years. Perhaps Armstrong has better sources than Pierre McGuire, who suggested the cap could be slashed by as much as 40%.
Of course, the Scandella signing raises red flags about other defensive spots. Vince Dunn is a restricted free agent this summer.
St. Louis Game Time did raise a valid point about the possibility of another team coming in and putting in an offer sheet. Offer sheets are rare these days, but if another team senses that the Blues are up against the cap, and sees value in Dunn, they could easily put in a number just north of what the Blues could afford and then St. Louis has serious decisions to make.
Then there is the eye-rolling jump to conclusions that Alex Pietrangelo is automatically gone now. The reality is that Pietrangelo could very well be out the door, but there are far too many variables to know that with any certainty.
We do not know what the Blues captain is asking for. We do not know if he will be forced to alter his contract demands due to the potential cap situation.
Saying that, we do not know what the cap will be. Most sites are basing their theories on the Blues roster based on the idea the cap was going up. If it stays the same or goes down, we have to know how the rollback will work on the salaries.
You cannot assume the market for Pietrangelo will be as strong as it would have been either. Toronto was constantly mentioned as a suitor for Petro, but that would have been difficult even with a raise in the cap. If the cap is reduced, they could easily have five players currently under contract take up 50% or more of their cap under some scenarios.
The only thing that is likely certain, and nothing is truly certain, is we have seen the last of Jay Bouwmeester in a Blues uniform. Scandella took his spot on the roster and took the money against the cap.
If Bouwmeester decides not to retire, he will likely have to play somewhere else. The only way he could return is if Pietrangelo leaves and Bouw took a very team-friendly contract, which seems less likely given his health concerns. Then again, the market might not be high for a player with a heart issue.
However, the contract, in and of itself, is a good one. Unless news comes out later to contradict this, it appears to have no movement clauses. That means the Blues can leave Scandella unprotected in the 2021 Expansion Draft – that’s right, it is not this summer as so many keep assuming.
The contract is good and gives the Blues certainty. Maybe it takes away money possibly given other players and maybe it does not. However, knowing what you can spend is much easier than trying to figure out multiple totals across the board.
Kudos to Armstrong for getting business done during this odd time.