Looking Ahead: Contracts for the Blues to Address
The St. Louis Blues are in the thick of a wild battle with the elite teams of the Western Conference. Making the playoffs as the highest seed possible is the main goal, making it pretty unlikely that the Blues will be focusing on any issues set to unfold beyond the 2011-12 season. That's where this site comes in. The Blues have several contracts on the books set to expire after 2011-12. Brace yourself Blues fans - tough decisions lie ahead.
At this stage, the Blues will likely address all their expiring contracts once the season expires. It's foolish to talk to any player about a contract during a pivotal time like the stretch run. That being said, the front office will have their hands full.
As of the date this article is posted the Blues sit without an owner. This could change by the time the Blues need to actually sit down and talk contracts which would have a huge impact on the proceedings. However, it's impossible to predict when a new owner will step in, so this article will examine the situation as it stands today - with the Blues essentially ownerless.
We'll start with the big guns - the restricted free agents.
Restricted Free Agents
- T.J. Oshie
- David Perron
- Chris Stewart
Thankfully, the Blues have some leverage when it comes to this trio. The Blues can buy more time with this group since they are restricted free agents, meaning the Blues can make a qualifying offer in order to retain negotiating rights.
- The Blues signed Oshie to a one-year, $2.35 million contract prior to the 2011-12 deal. This contract was a "prove yourself" deal for Oshie, urging the youngster to step up his game on the ice and eliminate his off ice issues in order to earn a larger, longer deal. Barring any major surprises, Oshie has excelled in both areas of his "prove yourself" contract, keeping his name out of the news away from the rink and playing a major role on the team's offense. Oshie is also the idol of most females in St. Louis which must carry at least some weight in the negotiation process.
: Oshie's work ethic, contributions to the offense and ability to clean up his act outside of the arena earn him a new deal with the Blues. At his age, Oshie is looking for a longer contract and I think he gets it. Without an owner, it's impossible to speculate any dollar values but a three-year contract sounds reasonable in terms of length.
- The contract situation surrounding Perron hinged entirely on his health. The Blues have had to wait and see whether or not Perron's concussion was a one-time setback or a sign of what's to come. So far, so good. Perron has been outstanding since returning from his concussion, showing no long-term effects from his injury. He has averaged roughly 0.76 points-per-game since returning, becoming an intricate piece of the St. Louis offense.
: The Blues were forced to wait and see what form Perron was in upon recovering. All signs point to Perron being the dangerous offensive weapon he has always been. Perron, like Oshie, is deserving of a new deal as his current two-year, $4.30 million contract is set to expire. I think the Blues will try their best to keep Perron in the mix as well, but again, predicting what the Blues might pay is almost impossible at this time.
- Here is where things get a bit tricky. Stewart was linked to some trade rumors before the deadline, giving many fans the belief the team is willing to part with him. While I can't prove or disprove that theory, it is one that makes a lot of sense. Stewart has struggled in 2011-12 but still holds a ton of value with GMs around the league.
Prediction: This one I think is close to being a 50-50 split. I could see the Blues making a qualifying offer then dealing Stewart to a different club. At the same time, if Stewart was willing to accept a one-year or two-year deal, I could see the Blues bringing him back. Perhaps something similar to Oshie's "prove yourself" contract discussed above.
Unrestricted Free Agents
- Jamie Langenbrunner
- Jason Arnott
- Scott Nichol
- Chris Porter
- Barret Jackman
- Kent Huskins
- Carlo Colaiacovo
Pretty long list here. The Blues did an outstanding job finding solid, talented guys prior to the 2011-12 season and were able to bring them all in with smallish, one-year deals. Such is the case with Langenbrunner, Arnott, Nichol and Huskins.
I won't even try to predict what the Blues will do with Arnott, Langenbrunner and Nichol and neither should you. These one-year deals could really go either way, but it's clear the club won't be signing any of them to any major contracts.
The most interesting conversation is at the defense, with familiar faces such as Jackman and Colaiacovo set to be free agents. The Blues have depth at defense, when healthy, but lack experience. Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Russell, Polak and Cole will all be under contract but are an extremely young group. Realistically, the Blues will need to either bring back some of their more experienced D-men or bring in new faces on the blueline that can guide the younger group. Here, I'll predict that between Huskins, Colaiacovo and Jackman that two of the three will not be brought back. It's a bit of a bold prediction, but I feel the Blues might be looking to move in a new direction.