Kukla's Korner Hockey
The heated rivalry that developed between the Avalanche and Blues last season, involving coaches Ken Hitchcock and Patrick Roy and leaking out onto the ice, was an element in the St. Louis signing of Stastny. I’m convinced of that. These are Central Division rivals, the Blues blew the division title last season by losing six straight to finish the regular season, and lost to the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wasn’t publicly drawn into the bitterness that developed between the two franchises, but it all adds up to a perfect storm — Stastny’s St. Louis roots; the Blues not only adding Stastny, but taking him away from a division rival; and perhaps a one-finger salute from Hitchcock to Roy in the wake of their bitter and even profane exchanges last season.
-Terry Frei of the Denver Post where you can read more on the Avalanche losing Paul Stastny to the Blues in free agency.
from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Armstrong had to do something, and he did. There should be an undeniable instant gratification. There assuredly has to be a civic connection. To be determined is how it translates on ice.
Stastny and Lehtera make the Blues deeper and hopefully more potent up front. Their arrival creates intrigue about how Backes and Patrik Berglund will look on the wing. Coach Ken Hitchcock’s line permutations should become even more fascinating.
Best of all, Stastny declined to play the over-the-top pander card. He acknowledged his familiarity and appreciation for the area but declined to say it was the overriding factor in his decision.
“I know the lay of the land,” he said, which certainly includes knowledge of this franchise’s legacy of postseason frustration. He referred to his verdict as “a hockey decision.”
More relevant, Stastny cited this roster’s capacity to create four balanced lines or two dominant ones. He senses a window of opportunity opening, not closing. “There are so many good players available.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The St. Louis Blues made quite the splash Tuesday, signing the most coveted center on the unrestricted free-agent market, Paul Stastny.
Just imagine had they also traded for Jason Spezza on top of that?
That’s exactly what the Blues would have attempted had the Ottawa Senators not dealt him so early in the day.
The priority in St. Louis was to make sure Stastny was going to sign there, but a source told ESPN.com the Blues would have also circled back to the Senators after that to inquire about what it would take to get Spezza as well.
Go big or go home, right?
continue plus talk on Dallas, Chicago and more topics...
This isn't the time to stay the course or to hope for more from the current roster. That plan has brought the Blues to the brink in recent years as a slew of former No. 1 draft picks and other top prospects have matured into legitimate NHL talent.
This isn't the time to hope things get better. This isn't the time to wonder if this is the season that Player A or Player B have breakout years.
-Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat on the St. Louis Blues. Read more on the Blues needing to make a splash this summer.
Eight teams have won a conference semifinal series the last three seasons. Sixteen teams have won at least one game in the second round during that span. The Blues are the most glaring absence from both classes. The franchise has endured 12 years since winning a game in the conference semis.
My gut tells me Armstong will make something happen this summer, maybe this week. The need for scoring and a deeper edge are too obvious. If my gut is wrong, a lot of folks will share the reflux.
-Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where you can read more on the Blues.
PHILADELPHIA - The Blues have agreed to terms on a new three-year contract extension with Patrik Berglund.
Berglund appeared in 78 regular season games in 2013-14, recording 32 points (14 goals and 18 assists). He also appeared in four playoff games.
Overall, Berglund has played in six NHL seasons in St. Louis, compiling 220 points (106 goals and 114 assists) in 436 career regular season games.
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
"We're going to be active in the free-agent market to see if we can improve our forward group," Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said Wednesday
The Blues have been linked to potential trade rumors with Ottawa center Jason Spezza and Vancouver center Ryan Kesler and free-agency rumors with Colorado center Paul Stastny, among others.
"I think this is just the time of year where names are circulated and they're not circulated by the teams, they're circulated by social media," Armstrong said. "I feel bad for the players, quite honestly, at this time of the year. There's very little fire behind a lot of smoke with some of these names that you hear."
That being said, Armstrong has never shied away from bold moves. He has traded some big names during his tenure here, including former first overall pick Erik Johnson.
A year ago he shipped out starting goalie Jaroslav Halak and forward Chris Stewart for veteran goalie Ryan Miller. That one didn't work out and Miller is back on the free-agent market, but Armstrong can't be accused of not trying.
Armstrong has also dealt former first-round picks David Perron, David Rundblad and Lars Eller with the Blues still searching for that elusive Stanley Cup championship.
“He’s a really good sort of jack of all trades, he can go up and down in your lineup. Obviously I don’t think there’s any more expanded growth in Steve Ott’s game — he is what he is. We want to do fair contracts, but we don’t want to be anybody’s retirement package.”
-Doug Armstrong, GM of the St. Louis Blues and the possibility of signing soon to be UFA Steve Ott. More on the Blues from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The NHL’s frenzy of trading and free-agent signings will begin soon, and by now the Blues certainly must realize what they need to do if they want to make a breakthrough as a serious contender for the Stanley Cup.
The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues’ fellow members of the Western Conference, have each won two Stanley Cups over the past five seasons. And we can continue to stress over goaltending, which obviously is a crucial element in a team’s postseason success.
But the Kings and Blackhawks have used goal-scoring power to grab four Stanley Cups. How do you survive the physical, tight-checking Western Conference rodeo? By having enough players in the stable to emerge and score the big goals at money time....
If the Blues don’t boost their offense this summer, there’s little reason to believe that their performance in the 2015 playoffs will be any different from what we’ve seen over the last three springs.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
If there was one area of concern, it might have been goaltending, as the Blues finished the year with a .913 save percentage, tied for 13th. They traded for Ryan Miller, in the hopes that he would be the answer, but Miller posted a .901 save percentage in 25 (regular season plus playoff) games with the Blues, which didn't alleviate goaltending concerns and prompted the Blues to re-sign Brian Elliott and mark Jake Allen for promotion.
Going with inexpensive goaltending does open up the possibility that the Blues can more readily upgrade their lineup, perhaps with an improvement in the second-line centre spot. While the Blues were tied for sixth in the league with 2.92 goals per game, there is still room to elevate their skill level if they are going to compete with the best.
It's not as though the Blues are incapable of competing with their current roster -- they were challenging for first place overall before losing the last six games of the regular season -- but it's difficult to justify making no improvements to a team that has made it out of the first round once since 2002.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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