Going into the offseason, the St. Louis Blues are in an interesting position. They have a few key RFA's they need to get signed. Beyond that, it will be tough for them to improve the team, and likely they will go into next season hoping that the maturing of their young players combined with Ken Hitchcock getting his first shot at a full training camp and season with the team will be the source of the improvement they need.
The important RFA's are Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart, and Patrik Berglund. My guesses put AP at a max length deal around 6 million. Shattenkirk with be 4-5 years around 4 million. Stewart and Berglund are both struggling to find consistency which will cost them in negotiations. At times both RFA's have looked like they deserve large raises, and at times they have disappeared entirely. Berglund will probably get between Alex Steen and David Perron money, around 3.5 Million, and Stewart near Backes money, just under 4.5 million. Armstrong probably won't bother giving other teams the chance to offer sheet either Berglund or Stewart, and will just file for arbitration with both if they aren't signed before free agency, to buy more exclusive negotiating time.
Blues also have Kris Russell and Jake Allen to sign. Russell's contract and worth to the Blues will be somewhat determined by what else they can get on the UFA market for around the same salary. Russell rights could also easily be traded. Blues have 5 solid defensemen and Ian Cole needs to be given play time to sink or swim. If we can get Leopold back at a number not far from what Russell wants, Russell will be moved. Jake Allen will be kept around as the potential heir to the net on a two-way contract.
Blues have 2 areas they could use an upgrade in. First is in net. Halak, Elliott, and Allen have all shown they can get the job done. But none are something you can count on going into next season. Elliott started out mediocre, then got entirely atrocious last season, before putting together an all-star quality month of April. Halak is serviceable but not star quality and has struggled with injuries. And Allen only has only seen ice-time in 16 NHL games total. The problem is: there are not a lot of goalies potentially available guaranteed to be an upgrade over what we have. Ryan Miller's name comes up, but as much as I would love to see Noureen DeWulf at some Blues games, it doesn't make sense for the Blues to give up much more than say Halak & Russell for someone not guaranteed to solidify our net. If that's the trade as was rumored around the trade deadline, I picture Armstrong pulling the trigger. If Buffalo wants more, Blues might as well stick with what they've got, and visit the issue after they see how Halak/Elliott/Allen are doing a few months into the season.
The other area we could use an upgrade is at center. We could use a puck distributing #1 guy. Again, the problem is the players likely to be available aren't necessarily upgrades. The free agent market is thin, always involves overpayment, and doesn't hold any surefire upgrades over Backes. Brad Richards, if bought out, would be a good option. But if a lot of teams are after him, he isn't worth offering a large or long term contract to, at least for the Blues. Paul Statsny is often mentioned by Blues fans, but he has been outscored by our current #1, David Backes, each of the last 3 years. Considering his salary, he isn't worth giving up much for, and Colorado would probably hesitate to trade him to a team in their division for the meager returns he would be worth to the Blues.
Ultimately, expect the team that starts next season for the Blues to be very close to the one that finished this year, with a minor chance of a Miller/Allen tandom in net instead of Halak/Elliott, and Cole in for Leopold on defense.