According to the Post-Dispatch, Andy Murray was said to already be playing with possible lines in his head. The lines went,
"The Blues have a nice supply of forwards now, and the power play should be better. Murray is already tinkering with these line combinations, at least in his head:
— Kariya, Tkachuk, Brad Boyes.
— Martin Rucinsky, Weight, Jamal Mayers.
— Lee Stempniak, Jay McClement, David Backes.
— Petr Cajanek, Ryan Johnson, Dan Hinote"
I'm a little concerned about the second and fourth lines here. First of all putting Cajanek with Johnson and Hinote is not balancing an attack and would limit his creativity which he showed a lot of the last twenty games or so when he was over a point per game producer. Second, putting Mayers with any scoring line unless it's main purpose is the forecheck is the wrong way to play him. Lastly, Ryan Johnson must go. If Drake was bought out then there is no doubt in my mind Ryan Johnson has to go as well.
There are a few things I could see happen here that helps the Blues ability to roll out four lines that all have the ability to score and makes the fourth line a more solid checking line. One is bringing Mike Glumac into the mix. Another is bringing up one of the many young forwards such as Birner or one of the younger draft picks is a better option than Ryan Johnson. Hell you can put Mayers in as a center. The point is to make a fast checking line that has some skill and therefore is capable of adding as a threat and can forecheck and shut down the opposition's scoring lines as well as bring energy to the team through hits.
Another possibility is bringing Paul's kid brother Martin in the mix. The benefit to adding a younger player, especially one who can score, to the fourth line is two fold. One, you give them ice time and experience without over-exposing them and limiting their role on the team allowing them time to develop. Two, they add to threat on the fourth line and might act as catalysts to producing scoring from the fourth line. So if say Perron has a great showing as he insists at making every attempt to make the team out of camp. So he plays on the team. Well you break him by limiting his ice time and exposure out on the ice. So when he makes good plays or bad plays you have more time to instruct the player and allow him to watch the game and develop.
The other point is the Blues must make every effort to find space on their roster for one to two rookies this year. Otherwise if you end up with more rookies in one year you're going to have potential RFA and UFA problems in the future. If the Blues have two to three rookies in one year that's not too too bad. And we might get those all from the defense this year and that's fine. But say the Blues fail to space out their young players you could possibly have three or five Thomas Vanek's on your team in one off season and you're going to have to make a tough choice(though those kind of tough choices are great to have). Then you might also purposefully expose a player that is pretty good so that you end up saving payroll and with an extra first round draft or four depending on the dollar amount.
Overall, I think the Blues have much to think about with this roster spot. The best Ryan Johnson should hope for is to be a spare forward at the NHL level. He might be better served in the AHL. The last possibility I like is the Blues signing Jeff Freisen. He has scored a fair amount in the past. But he has the speed and the ability to be a good forechecker who also can create scoring oppertunities. A line of Hinote Mayers and Freisen would compliment the speed each has as well as the potential to push the D back behind the blue line and enable better forechecking because of the vast speed on such a line.
I for one also prefer to see at least one speedy forward on the penalty kill who can score. Mayers could be that forward but he lacks hockey sense and hands. On his many breakaways you almost always see the same patent slap shot. He needs to learn at least one deak to compliment his speed and he adds five goals to his totals from breakaways alone. But a speedy forward on the pk also allows the forward to pressure the defense more, putting himself out of postion with the ability to quickly put himself back in position. When you are capable of pressuring the passing lanes you create mistakes and mistakes lead to opportunity even if the opportunity on the pk is just killing off the penalty and not allowing the points to set up and quarterback the power play.
I'm interested in hearing anybody else's thought on the situation. Here's to the end of Ryan Johnson's career in the Bluenote. And if Toronto comes calling with a second round pick in this years draft for Mayers(hell even a fourth rounder), let's hope the Blues don't miss that golden oppertunity twice.