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Posted 10:20 AM ET | Comments 2
Doug Armstrong is going to be earning his paycheck the rest of this calendar year. Besides trying to figure out what to do about possibly picking up a player for the playoff push, he's going to have to figure out a lot of contract situations for next season. My gut tells me that he won't make any deals the rest of the way this year. Andy McDonald is coming back (hopefully), It sounds like Steen should be back in action this week against the Oilers, and the defense is fairly crowded right now even without Huskins.
There's been some talk going on about whether or not the Blues will take a look at a veteran defenseman to anchor the back line. I don't see it. Pietrangelo is a number one guy, or at least really close to it. Jackman and Polak habitually shut down everyone they go up against. Colaiacovo, Russell, and Cole are more than serviceable and Hitch seems to have the confidence to put them out against just about anyone. With Huskins returning at some point in the next month or so what is the upside to getting another D man?
Sure if there's a Ryan Suter out there to be bought for the playoff push you'd love to have him, as long as he's healthy. But the Preds, as well as at least 10 other teams in the West, are a playoff contender. Contract status or not they're going to hang onto him and more than likely re-sign him. I'm sure there are a ton of veteran, puck-moving defenseman Armstrong and JD have their eyes on, but the team is solid right now. The biggest question marks will be for next year.
Let's just say, for instance, that the Blues make a huge push and get into the second round of the playoffs maybe farther. The Blues will have some cash to spend. There are guys on the squad now who are going to need to get paid. Oshie, Perron and Stewart are all RFAs....they should be going nowhere. The Blues will have to shell out to keep them all, but they are the foundation the team will be built around for the next few years. I'd bet Oshie averages something around $3.5 million per year, same as Perron, for 4 or 5 years. Stewart should get just about the same amount but his contract is worth just about that much already. There are quite a few UFAs on the team that will put some real pressure on the organization.
What do you pay Jax? Carlo? Porter and Nichol are more or less interchangeable....do you need both? What about the old men on the team? Langenbrunner and Arnott are playing some great hockey right now. Do you think they can keep it up? Then you have Brian Elliott playing all-star hockey. Can you afford to keep him as a backup? Will he even stay on if he's not the #1 guy after the year he's having right now.
Tons of questions are going to be answered in the coming months. Hopefully the term "hometown discount" will be thrown around for guys to sign for cheap because they'll be playing for a "championship caliber" team. This could be that year. It's starting to feel really good.