The St. Louis Blues began their process of shaping their 2021 roster. One decision was incredibly easy, while some others had to have taken some thought.
The 2021 St. Louis Blues roster is really beginning to take shape. One night after an impressive scrimmage by just about all the players the team was looking at, the Blues made several roster decisions.
The easiest, and most obvious from the time the pro tryout contract was given, was to sign Mike Hoffman. The Blues made that official this morning, inking Hoffman to a 1-year, $4 million contract.
That fits in line with what we all expected him to sign for. It would have been nice for him to take something in the high $3 million range, but his contract and that of Vince Dunn still fit within the general framework of what the Blues had available for LTIR relief from Alex Steen‘s contract.
The more interesting moves were the names the Blues put on waivers. St. Louis took nine players off their NHL roster as they trimmed down from training camp.
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The biggest names on that list were Mackenzie MacEachern and Jacob de La Rose. MacEachern featured sporadically during the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup run and also last season. de La Rose was the main piece in return when the Blues traded Robby Fabbri.
However, it shows the team’s depth that they could not even make the 23-man roster out of camp. The rest of the names were to be expected.
Sam Anas, Curtis McKenzie, Nathan Walker, Mitch Reinke, Steven Santini and Jake Walman and Jon Gillies were all put through waivers. Gillies surprised me, but only because I misunderstood the taxi squad.
Chances are many of these names, including Gillies, MacEachern, de La Rose and Walman will be on the taxi squad. Initially, it was unclear if you had to clear waivers to be place on the taxi squad, but it would appear so.
Some of it is also salary related. Gillies has a two-way contract, so if he clears waivers, he only receives his AHL salary while on the taxi squad.
The same is true for Walman. MacEachern and de La Rose were salary cap concerns.
Don’t ask for it to be explained 100% because only the book keepers know for sure. If you boil it down to simple terms, the Blues were around $1.176 million over the cap prior to signing Vince Dunn and Hoffman.
The salaries of MacEachern and de La Rose combined equal $1.6 million. So, in theory, once the Blues have their LTIR relief and those two on the taxi squad, which does not count against your cap, then they will have enough wiggle room to have Vladimir Tarasenko return at some point.
Nevertheless, unless someone claims them, you should expect to see those two and Gillies on the taxi squad. Walman has likely earned a taxi spot as well, especially with the AHL season barely being worth it at this point (26 games).
Tanner Kaspick, Hugh McGing, Jake Neighbours, Austin Poganski, Nolan Stevens, Scott Perunovich, Tyler Tucker and Joel Hofer were also released. They were all waiver exempt, so nobody can attempt to claim them and they are sent directly to the AHL or their junior team, as is the case with Neighbours.
There is an outside chance Perunovich still makes the taxi squad, but apparently he did not wow during camp. With Walman and possibly Mikkola on the taxi squad already and seven defensemen on the NHL roster, it seems Perunovich would go to the AHL. The only thing giving one pause about that idea is that he’d be playing with Vancouver’s farm team in Utica, so the Blues lose control of his development.
Regardless, I do not expect any of the Blues players to be claimed. There were 89 players put on waivers around the NHL today and none of the Blues nine stand out enough to warrant it, except maybe MacEachern if someone wants a young, fourth liner.