Don’t count me among those that think the Blues need to go back to the old style of defenseman. I continually contend that you can keep as many pucks out as you want to try, but the Blues need to score more.
Regardless, there is always something to be said for experience. With the retirement of Carl Gunnarsson and the loss of Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues are suddenly thin on the blue line and that doesn’t even bring up the Vince Dunn situation.
The Blues do need experience and grit back there to go along with their skill players. Some of the younger players coming through the ranks might have that, but they’re unknowns.
With that in mind, it might make sense to give Luke Schenn a try. Age is an issue, since he’ll be 32 when the season starts and his playing time has diminished the last couple seasons, but he’s still got value.
Think of all the things that Brayden Schenn provides and you get all that in a defenseman, minus the scoring touch. Luke will provide the odd goal here or there, but that’s not why you bring him in.
He’s a punishing defender, averaging over 200 hits per season almost every year up until 2018-19. Except for one year in Toronto, he’s kept his turnover numbers low, meaning he can be trusted with the puck and on zone exits.
Schenn isn’t huge, but he’s got the size the Blues would need. The tale of the tape show’s he’s 6’2 and 229 lbs, so he’s not going to get pushed around by many forwards in today’s league.
He’s taken two very team-friendly contracts with Tampa Bay, coming in at $700,000 and $800,000. If the Blues keep their offer at $1 million or less, they’re in the gold zone and getting a solid player too.
There’s little reason for Schenn to want to leave Tampa. The salary cap could force him out, depending on what the Lightning want to do elsewhere in their lineup.
Perhaps a season or two with his brother would be of interest.
Speaking of players less than likely to leave Tampa, enter Blake Coleman. This is an interesting idea to consider him, because it all boils down to whether he would even make it to free agency.
Coleman will be 30 when the 2021-22 season starts. However, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. Additionally, he doesn’t have a lot of miles on him since he got his NHL career started somewhat late, coming in with New Jersey at 25 and hitting his stride at 26.
The Lightning picked him up in a trade in 2020. He scored five goals and had 13 points in 25 games during their Cup run. Coleman followed it up with 14 goals and 31 points in 55 games during the 2021 regular season.
When he’s had the opportunity to play full seasons, Coleman is a 20-plus goal guy. He won’t get many helpers, but he definitely fits the Blues style as he will throw his body around quite a bit.
Coleman is listed as a center on Hockey Reference, but don’t let that fool you. He took just seven faceoffs with the Lightning, so he’s a winger now. Nevertheless, with the way the Blues had injuries in 2021, having a player that can slide into the middle in a pinch would not hurt.
Coleman would definitely be affordable. He made $1.8 million this past season, so even with a decent raise, we are talking under $3 million.
Again, it could very well depend on what Tampa can afford to do. Personally, I would not see a reason why you’d let Coleman hit the market. However, the Lightning are double-digit millions over the cap and LTIR will only work for so long.
Perhaps more in the realm of realism, Barclay Goodrow is an interesting name to consider. Goodrow doesn’t have the upside of Coleman, nor the pure physicality of Schenn, but he would fit the Blues style.
Goodrow had a decent year in 2021, scoring six goals and 20 points in 55 games. We aren’t talking high-level scoring, but he could be a valuable third line player or even a fourth liner that can give you higher minutes, pushing the Blues back to rolling four lines consistently.
Goodrow has never scored double-digit goals, so you’re paying more for the intangibles. He’s got good size at 6’2, checks in with over 100 hits per season when playing full years and can steal you some pucks too.
Additionally, Goodrow actually is a center. The only season he’s failed to win more than 50% of his faceoffs was 2019-20 and some of that boils down to having a poor start in San Jose and then not enough games with Tampa prior to the pandemic stoppage to raise his percentage.
If the Blues have to move on from Tyler Bozak, you’re getting a simliar playing in Goodrow. You’re also gaining a few years as Goodrow is just 28 right now.
Goodrow made under $1 million in 2021. If he gives any discount to Tampa, he probably stays. If the Blues can pry him away for like $1.2 million, that could be worth it, especially if you’re not bringing Bozak back and his replacement costs well under half as much.