When the St. Louis Blues season ends, the speculation always begins. Who is coming in, which players are going out? How do they improve this or that?
Normally, it involves fun speculation and discussion. Unfortunately, as with everything in today’s society, there is a fine line between fun speculation and demanding expectation.
We have likely crossed that threshold with regard to Gabriel Landeskog. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about one of the more talented players in the NHL putting on a Blues sweater, but it no longer feels as though it’s just fan hope.
Before we get too deep into this, I can already tell people are going to take away that I don’t want Landeskog on the Blues. In a vacuum, I would love him in a Blues sweater, but you cannot ignore certain things, which will be discussed in this article.
The main reason fans need to cool it on the Landeskog idea is that he is still likely to stay in Colorado. There have been reports about him being disappointed in the offers received from the Avalanche, but that happens all the time. We’ve heard many stories in the past about how two sides were not even close and then a deal is reached on the eve of free agency.
While the Avs have space right now, Colorado does have to worry about their cap in the future. Cale Makar will need a big raise and Nathan MacKinnon will need a new deal in the near future too. They cannot just throw money at Landeskog.
However, the Avs have to know that they have a window of opportunity to win right now. With Makar and MacKinnon, you’ll always have a good team, but they have to debate how much that window might close if they do not have Landeskog and if they could even find a suitable replacement.
Ideally, from the Avs perspective, they’d give a two or three year deal to Landeskog and then move on. He almost certainly doesn’t want a contract that short, so thus the impasse. Yet, it would still seem more likely the Avalanche get something figured out. If that were so, the speculation is all for nothing.
Again, speculation is fun, but many social media posts have switched their focus to say Doug Armstrong is not doing his job if he does not bring Landeskog to St. Louis. That’s where we devolve into childish whining.
Armstrong has to do what is best for the franchise as a whole, not just those that want the shiny, new toy. No matter how many times sensible fans try, there is no reaching this group. They think you can just throw money at anything and it makes it better. Give Alex Pietrangelo or David Backes or whomever all the money they ask for, but those same people will turn on the team when those contracts prevent you from organizing depth for the rest of your team.
So, what is Armstrong supposed to do if Landeskog demands $8.5-9.5 million, as has been rumored by some? The Blues currently have around $17 million to spend, so are you doing to spend more than 50% of that on one player?
Additionally, and this is where I get into trouble, why is everyone so fixated on Landeskog being worth that kind of money? I really don’t get the mindset.
Apologies for continually comparing things to Vladimir Tarasenko, but the vocal narrative is that Tarasenko was overpaid and underperformed. Yet, his contract had a cap hit of $7.5 million and he scored 30-plus goals five seasons consecutively prior to his shoulder injuries.
He also had three straight seasons of over 70 points and then years with 66 and 68 points prior to being hurt. Those numbers seem very worth $7.5 million, if not more, but there are some that claim overpaid.
Comparatively, fans are ready to back the dump truck of cash up to Landeskog’s house. He has one season in his entire NHL career of 34 goals.
If we only compare the five seasons Tarasenko was at his best, Landeskog had seasons with 23, 20, 18, 25 and 34 goals. His point totals were 65, 59, 53, 33, 62 and 75.
Sorry, but how is that worth around $9 million but better production – more goals and actually more points – is overpaid? Then, we automatically go to the shoulder thing.
Yes, Tarasenko only has 34 games the last two seasons. In those five seasons, he missed 15 games, averaging out to only three games missed per season.
Over that same time, Landeskog missed 30 games. So, who is actually more injury prone? Also, that season with just 33 points came in a year he played 72 games, so injury was not really the main culprit for underperforming.
None of this is to say the Blues should not pursue Landeskog. I do believe he would fit well on this team and even be a suitable replacement if the Blues are forced to trade Tarasenko.
He provides speed, talent and flexibility. Like Brayden Schenn, he can play in the middle or on the wing, giving you loads of possible line combos and the ability to mix things up when injuries occur.
However, he is not worth being paid more than Tarasenko. If you can swap contracts, that’s fantastic. Landeskog is worth $7.5 million, even if there is a slight dip in goals compared to what you gave up.
Anything over $8 million is sketchy. The guy simply has not performed consistently to earn that kind of money, despite being on one of the more offensively gifted teams.
I could live with $8 million. Anything higher, take a pass. The Blues need talent, but eventually we have to figure out what players are actually worth based on what they’re actually doing.
Sorry to offend, but Jaden Schwartz is not worth more than the $5-plus million he’s been getting, no matter what the open market might provide. Landeskog would not provide enough statistical value to be worth $8.5-9.5 million.
You can only pay so much over value for intangibles.
So, Blues fans need to just cool it. He’s probably not going anywhere and if he is, it’s probably for more money than the Blues need to be spending on him.