There is still a slim possibility the St. Louis Blues could add a scoring winger in free agency. It will be determined by one player and the owners of the team.
The St. Louis Blues are likely done with the free agent market, unless something truly unique comes their way. However, there is still a small chance for them to add another winger, but it depends on a couple things.
The most interesting name left in free agency, at least in terms of what might benefit St. Louis, is Mike Hoffman. Hoffman is a steady scoring threat, which is just the sort of thing the Blues could likely use in 2020-21.
St. Louis is going to be without Vladimir Tarasenko for who knows how long. The earliest Tarasenko could return would likely be February and that might be a fool’s hope.
So, the Blues could use some scoring punch. They did alright without Tarasenko while he was injured in 2019-20, but you’re asking a lot for a repeat performance.
You would need guys like Zach Sanford, Sammy Blais, Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev to punch above their weight class. You would need Klim Kostin to find form, Jordan Kyrou to live up to hopes and Robert Thomas to live up to expectations, whether as a playmaker or even a scorer.
That’s a lot of ifs. Hoffman is more of a sure thing.
Again, adding him would depend on a couple factors. It basically depends on Tom Stillman and Alex Steen.
It comes down to Stillman’s pocketbook and what he wants to spend. It comes down to what Steen’s injury is and whether he wishes to play or, perhaps, step aside for the good of the team.
As far as the player goes, this comes down to Steen’s pride and a real evaluation of his health. Nobody seems to know what Steen’s injuries are, or are unwilling to disclose it.
Nevertheless, it seems as though Doug Armstrong is hinting at the idea Steen will be placed on long term injured reserve, or LTIR. If that happens to be the case, how much available money the Blues have depends on how long he is injured and whether he can come back.
That’s where it comes down to pride. Clearly Steen would want to play and finish out his career strongly if he is well enough to lace up the skates.
If it comes down to missing 75% of the season, or more, the Blues might benefit more from him staying on LTIR. That would free up his salary to be spent on a player like Hoffman.
In that scenario, it becomes a matter of what Stillman and his partners are willing to spend. If Steen stays on LTIR, you still pay his salary, but it no longer counts against the salary cap. So, are the owners of the Blues willing to spend that much more money beyond the salary cap expenditure?
Of course, that kind of question circles back to whether Steen would accept that scenario. Is his pride enough to sit out and collect money? Most players would probably not. The Blues and Armstrong have made plenty of tough decisions over the years, but it seems very unlikely they would consider asking him to sit out and just collect money.
On top of all that, there is no indication how much money Hoffman is asking for. He has indicated he is willing to accept a one-year contract, which is likely what the Blues could offer no matter what.
Even so, Hoffman would be worth the risk if ownership could fit the bill. He has scored 20-plus goals the last six seasons, scoring 36 in 2019-20. For all his talents, Jaden Schwartz has yet to eclipse the 30 goal plateau.
Some would say that’s just another road block for young guys like Kyrou. If you have a chance to add a known quantity instead of just possibility, you have to take it when you’re in the middle of a championship window.
The only thing going against Hoffman is he’ll be 31 by the time any new season begins.
This is all likely a pipe dream. Armstrong has stated that he does not like to consider LTIR money spendable unless absolutely necessary.
It would be a rather big coup if the Blues could poach Hoffman away from the likes of a Boston or other contenders looking for scoring help. Colorado is only going to get tougher and the Blues need to make their moves now.