As of the date of this article, Carlo Colaiacovo sits as one of the top free agent defenseman still left on the market (Yahoo!). At the end of the 2011-12 season it appeared that the Blues and Colaiacovo would part ways at some point during the summer. However, as other defensive options have signed massive contracts with other teams the Blues may be forced to bring back Colaiacovo. With that, here are the arguments for and against the Blues bringing back Colaiacovo to the team for 2012-13.
- Familiarity. The Blues know what they would be getting if they signed Colaiacovo. There's something to be said for knowing what to expect from the players on your roster. With Colaiacovo, there are few question marks. Signing Carlo to a new deal might be taking the easy way out as the Blues would know exactly what to expect should they bring him back with a new deal. Bringing in a new face brings with it a large amount of risk as you never know how a player will react in the face of a new city with new challenges.
- Price. Realistically, Colaiacovo is one of the most affordable options still out there. The 2011-12 season marked the end of Colaiacovo's two-year, $4.25 million contract that paid the defenseman $1.75 million in 2010-11 and $2.5 million last season. Even if Colaiacovo used his leverage as being one of the last defensive options out on the market, the Blues should still be able to sign him at a fair price. As we all know, the Blues aren't in a position to give out any bloated contracts. In terms of pure offensive production Colaiacovo may be able to do just as much as a much more expensive option. He could be a good value, if healthy.
- Chemistry. This section is closely related to the one above on familiarity. While team management will know what to expect from Colaiacovo if he returns, so too will the current St. Louis defenseman. There would be no learning curve for whichever Blue would be paired with Colaiacovo. The chemistry should be in place from Day 1.
- Offensive production. Also closely related to the price section, Colaiacovo can provide a solid source of offense when health (More on health later). The last three seasons have seen Carlo score 32 points (67 games), 26 points (65 games) and most recently 19 points (64 games). Though there is a clear slide in his offensive numbers, a healthy Colaiacovo should be capable of producing 30+ points in a season. This type of production would most likely come at a cheaper price through Colaiacovo than it would through a different option.
- Health. The nickname "Glass Carlo" isn't a very kind one but it unfortunately has been a pretty truthful one over the last few seasons. Over the last three seasons Colaiacovo has played in 64, 65 and 67 games. From concussion-like symptoms to hamstring injuries, to wrist injuries and the infamous "lower-body" injury, Colaiacovo has experienced it all. Carlo has even been at the heart of one of the funniest gifs/videos of the past few years when he dramatically crashed into the boards (video below). We've had a lot of laughs about Glass Carlo over the years but it's a serious issue that must be considered by St. Louis management.
- Potential. Again, this section is closely related to several of the others above. At age 29, Colaiacovo is mostly past the years where typical improvement at the NHL level occurs. Barring a sudden rise in his 10th NHL season and beyond, we've probably seen Carlo at his best. His best lies somewhere between an injury filled season and the offensive prowess we saw in 2009-10 that saw the defenseman score seven goals and 25 assists. As always, it's all about the upside. Colaiacovo's potential has most likely been met meaning that there is little upside, or room for growth, from this defenseman. This area isn't a complete negative but it is to say the Blues shouldn't expect more than what we have already seen.
- Fresh start. Sometimes a change is made not because the player isn't a good performer but because a change is needed to shake things up a bit. In 2011-12, the St. Louis Blues crashed in the second round against Los Angeles. Currently, the 2012-13 roster will closely mirror the 2011-12 roster with the notable inclusion of Vladimir Tarasenko. Defensively the roster is nearly identical, pending the team's decision on Colaiacovo. Mentally, it might serve the team to find a new option in order to disprove the theory that the current group maxed out its potential in 2011-12.
There are pros and cons to the question that is Carlo Colaiacovo. He can be a positive presence, especially offensively, but the concerns over his injury history are great. He's one of the few defenseman left on the open market. Arguably he is the best defensive option that's an unrestricted free agent. Unless the Blues make a trade, Colaiacovo may make the most sense for the team at this point.
In my opinion, I'd prefer to see the Blues and Colaiacovo part ways. Whether this means a trade or the Blues targeting a different free agent I think the club might be better off with a new face simply to freshen up the roster. Carlo's injury history is also a huge concern. If the Blues are going to plunk out a few million dollars they might be better served to give it to a player that doesn't continually miss 10-20 games a season.
My opinion is hinged on the fact the Blues wouldn't have to overly extend themselves or pay too steep of a price in order to acquire a new face. The rumored price for a guy like Jay Bouwmeester is far too high for what he could provide. If all of the options are out of reach financially then by all means bring back Carlo if he makes the most sense based on what is out there - just don't complain when he misses time and the Blues are forced to deploy Jeff Woywitka.