The St. Louis Blues seemed as though they were done in free agency when they filled out their blue line. Instead, they added another forward.
Doug Armstrong continues to be a rather puzzling man in the year 2020. Just when it seemed the St. Louis Blues would surely not sign another free agent, Armstrong put the Blues over the salary cap by signing Kyle Clifford.
The deal, in and of itself, is a solid one. The Blues get Clifford for two seasons at just $1 million per season.
That’s a reasonable rate for someone who would surely be nothing more than a fourth-line player.
Clifford will not provide you scoring, as he has only scored double-digit goals once in his career. He’s averaged just 15 points per season over the last four years.
So, the Blues are not going to look to him for a goal or three. He is being brought in to provide toughness and depth.
However, the puzzling part of this deal is how it affects the roster and the salary cap. As of the day of signing, October 11, 2020, the Blues are now $1.2 million over the salary cap.
They have LTIR built up that gives them relief, but you have to wonder if this is an indicator of something bigger. Might Vladimir Tarasenko be out for longer than the original timeline? Could Alex Steen be banged up enough to call it a career?
While neither absolutely have to be true, you have to figure one might be. If not, the Blues are clearly comfortable with the idea of losing a player to waivers if they have to send anyone to the minors.
For those wondering if it takes a spot away from Jordan Kyrou or Klim Kostin, the answer is technically no. If those guys earn a spot in camp, the Blues can start a veteran in the AHL as long as they don’t have a clause that prevents it.
The trouble is, if you bring that veteran up to the NHL, then they have to clear waivers to return. Also, if Armstrong doesn’t have some other moves up his sleeve, I really don’t understand how the Blues afford Tarasenko or Steen, let alone both, if they got healthy.
As far as Clifford goes, it is what it is. What is amusing about his addition is like Torey Krug, the last thing we remember about Clifford is something unappealing to Blues fans.
Now, both are a member of the Blues franchise. Only in 2020.
This is pro sports, though, so everyone will be fine now that they’re on the same team. Nevertheless, it is a surprising move.
Clifford provides some of the grit they lost without Pat Maroon. However, they could have kept the Big Rig for less money, in theory.
If nothing else, it makes one want training camp to get underway already so we can figure out if the Blues will give a shot to some of their young players or if they’re going to take a page from the St. Louis Cardinals and keep saying they’ll get a look next year.