After a long absence, I'm back...
It's been a while since I've written a blog, but with the July 1st "Free Agent Frenzy" upon the horizon, I felt it was a fitting time to return to what I enjoy...writing about my hometown St. Louis Blues.
From now through the entirety of the upcoming free agent period, look for updates regarding player movement as it pertains to the Blues on this very blog. Also, you can follow me on twitter, at http://twitter.com/Nick_Boston
Now, as for the latest news regarding the St. Louis Blues...
The Blues have two more days to get an extension done with impending RFA's T.J. Oshie and Matt D'Agostini. After July 1st, they're free to negotiate and receive offer sheets from other NHL teams. However, if an offer sheet from another club were to be presented, the Blues would have seven days to match the offer, or let them go in exchange for draft compensation.
(By the way, you're welcome for the history lesson pertaining to how the RFA scenario works...)
Anyway, sources close to the situation have reported that Oshie is a little closer to reaching a deal than D'Agostini at this point in time. Oshie's agent, Matt Oates, states that "things are going well" in the negotiations process. Meanwhile, the agent for D'Agostini, Steve Bartlett, says they're still negotaiting with the team and "are hopeful they can get it done" before July 1st.
Before anyone starts to sweat the possibiliy of a team offering Oshie an offer sheet if, worst case scenario, a deal isn't reached before July 1st, let's put that to rest right now. Because of the high caliber of draft compensation involved with offering a player like Oshie would entail, there's no way possible I can forsee any team presenting Oshie with an offer sheet in hopes that the Blues don't match. Oshie is a cornerstone of the team's future, and despite his off-the-ice issues in the past year, letting a player with as much upside as him would be a grave injustice for the team and is a move I don't think GM Doug Armstrong and president John Davidson would want to make.
As for D'Agostini, it's up to him and his agent to figure out what's best for his future. Sure, he had a career year last season, but is that the type of player the Blues should expect to see, or will he return to being the third and fourth line-caliber player that played for the Canadiens before being traded to the Blues. Given, the guy has a lot of upside, and I personally enjoy watching him play, but in the Blues' perspective, they need to evaluate and offer him a contract based off of his all-around game...not just one season of success. Hopefully, the two sides can come to a mutual agreement and D'Agostini can prove to the team that last season wasn't a one-year fluke.
The Blues will also be looking for a backup goaltender and a gritty, veteran forward to fit in with the young core of talent up front the Blues have already in place.
Blues fans have been calling for years now to spend the money to bring in an elite scoring forward to help with what's been a consistent problem with this team since the lockout...
Unfortunately, with the ownership mess that the Blues are in once again, it would be hard-pressed to see the Blues pursue a Brad Richards or someone of his caliber in this year's free agent market. Bottom line is, they just don't have the money to pull off that type of contract. I realize it's not what the Blues fans want to hear, but it's a harsh reality.
And who's to say that the Blues don't already have a player of that caliber already placed on their roster? Look at what Chris Stewart did in the goal department for the Blues once he was traded to St. Louis from Colorado last season. Him, along with the before-mentioned Oshie and D'Agostini, Patrik Berglund, David Backes, and a hopefully healthy David Perron...all of these young players have shown flashes of scoring prowess. Also, veterans Andy McDonald and Alex Steen have proven they can be 20+ goal scorers on this team. I know it sounds optimistic, but on paper, and without the mass amount of injuries to key players this team has suffered through the past two seasons, this team looks to be very good.
Adding a third-line veteran with grit, toughness, and veteran leadership as I referred to earlier would be of some help for this team too. A guy like a Rob Niedermayer or a Jamie Langenbrunner, who has been around the block a few times in the NHL, and knows what it takes to win. They may not be the marquee name, but these are guys that can still produce quite nicely on the ice, and be of some help for the youngsters on this team as well.
The backup goaltender role is sketchy as of now. The team is letting Ty Conklin walk, so it would be nice to have another veteran be able to come in and not only push starter Jaroslav Halak, but be able to spell him for a few starts, as well as have the ability to have a starter's mentality if, worst case scenario, Halak goes down with injury. A guy like Pascual Leclaire, Brian Boucher, Peter Budaj, or Josh Harding would be a nice addition to have in that backup positon, in my opinion.
This should be a crazy, yet very fun NHL free agent period to experience this year. Let's get ready to sit back and enjoy what happens between now and the start of training camp.
More to come,