St. Louis Blues: Decoding Doug Armstrong's Opening Day NHL Free-Agency Strategy - Do Nothing

NHL free-agency began on July 1st. Despite a historic day with numerous deals, the St. Louis Blues remained quiet.
St Louis Blues v Ottawa Senators
St Louis Blues v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages
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Actions speak louder than words.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong's commitment to his players and focus on the future brings hope to some fans and disappointment to others.

While the St. Louis Blues did sign two players on the first day of free-agency, Kasperi Kapanen (with the team in 2023-24) and newcomer Corey Schueneman, neither are star players nor expected to make a significant difference in 2024-25.

The opening day of free-agency was a watershed moment in the NHL, with a record-breaking $1 billion spent. The unprecedented activity has significantly weakened the current market, further affirming Armstrong's commitment to the current roster.

Interestingly, the best-remaining free-agent on most pundits charts is former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko. Blues fans are aware that Tarasenko possesses talent, but his history of severe injuries and aging are concerns.

If there were questions before, there is no doubt now that Armstrong's commitment to building for the future and relying on the current roster is crystal clear.

Hockey analyst Jeremy Rutherford confirmed as much and shared parts of his conversation with Armstrong in Las Vegas.

"I liked the way Bolduc played last year. I liked Dean, and I want to give them opportunities. We'll see how we can augment that group," Armstrong said in parts of the conversation.

Observing the Blues' lack of involvement on the opening day of free-agency and analyzing Armstrong's own words, fans can anticipate the emergence of young skaters such as Zack Bolduc and Zach Dean in more prominent roles.

With the current roster, can the St. Louis Blues secure a winning season?

The Blues were close to the playoffs, and head coach Drew Bannister showcased an impressive regular season record of 30-19-5 once he took over.

However, the central division got significantly better in the draft and on the first day of free-agency. The Nashville Predators brought in two great players to add to their already talented team. Not only did the Predators sign Steven Stamkos, but they also locked in Jonathan Marchessault.

The Chicago Blackhawks had a historic draft day and continued adding veteran players in free-agency, as did the Colorado Avalanche.

While the St. Louis Blues remained quiet and will likely avoid any major new additions, they have one significant thing going for them: a strong commitment to continuity. Can this reassure fans and instill confidence in the team's stability?

With Bannister heading into the season with an almost identical roster and few changes occurring, the St. Louis Blues have the opportunity to show the league that they are not only talented but that being formed and developed from within is a legitimate way to build a talented hockey team.

Can Jake Neighbours elevate his game? Will St. Louis Blues fans see a great season from Robert Thomas and perhaps even Jordan Kyrou? Can Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer continue their dominance as goaltenders?

If these questions come out in the affirmative, the Blues can replicate their success from last year and make the playoffs.

Change isn't always necessary, and Armstrong is betting his cards on players within. He will more than likely make moves to bring in the franchise's youth in Zach Dean, Zack Bolduc, and maybe even Dalibor Dvorsky for more permanent roles.

Critique Armstrong if you wish, but yesterday proved the Blues feel confident in their roster and plan to focus on youngsters entering full-time play.

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