The St. Louis Blues went into today with two big question marks on their roster by the names of David Backes and Troy Brouwer. Both left the Blues franchise with nothing in return. Going in to today, the Blues had just over $15 million in cap space for the upcoming 2016-17 season with Restricted Free Agent Jaden Schwartz, and Unrestricted Free Agents Troy Brouwer and David Backes left to sign to help solidify their Top 6.
David Backes, Blues captain and lifer signed today a 5 year, $30 million contract. It is understandable to not want to give the Captain a $6 million per year contract given his age already at 31 and mostly playing on the Blues 2nd and 3rd line. Not worth what his output will give the team. Backes has played 233 out of a potential 246 games over the last 3 seasons for the Blues and averaged 0.68 points per game currently. If he could produce between 58-62 points per season that he has done the last few season, it would not be as large of an issue. However, finishing at 36 years old and the hard-hitting, gritty style of David Backes’ play, he will be overpaid by the Bruins by the back half of his contract.
Troy Brouwer today was signed by the Calgary Flames and will join former Blues goaltender and Miracle Man of the playoffs, to a to a 4 year contract, worth $4.5 million Average Annual Value. Again, with $15+ million in the bank to spend, you would imagine that the team who is in need to solidify their 2nd line, Right Wing slot would be willing to spend. Brouwer impressed mostly through his defensive style and team play as opposed to his offensive output during the regular season, scoring 39 points in 82 games. Brouwer however truly captured St. Louis’ heart in the playoffs through the same style and grit he played with all year-long, but managing also an impressive 8 goals and 13 points in 20 games. Seems to me that Doug Armstrong could have spent the money on Troy to keep him around in St. Louis for the next couple of years.
The Blues today chose to bring back former 2007 1st round draft pick, David Perron to a 2 year, $7.5 million contract. David Perron, a Left Winer, has spent the last few years bouncing around the NHL with the likes of Edmonton, Pittsburgh, and Anaheim. Over the last 230 games played in 3 seasons, Perron has managed 134 points or 0.58 points per game. Nothing against Perron, but I think I would have been willing to spend the additional $1 million per season for Troy Brouwer in the tough Central Division.
In all reality, today the Blues missed big on several players. While looking over the roster and thinking of potential lineups that could have been made, the Blues would need to have gone in to today with the needs of a backup goaltender (whom they addressed with Carter Hutton) and 2 Forwards. These two forwards, in my opinion, would likely have needed to play a mixture of Center and Right Wing to pair with upcoming Sophomore, Robby Fabbri. While looking at the free agents, and the salary cap that was expendable, the Blues could have looked in to several options.
Eric Staal – Center
Former Captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, Stanley Cup Winner, and an elite Center who was in desperate need of a second chance after and abysmal performance in New York. After being buried in the lineup in New York and given a slight chance to succeed, Staal could never find his groove to justify his trade. Providing New York with 6 points in 20 games and no points in 5 playoff games, thus, driving down his market value, Eric was certainly heading out. Staal was in dire need to bring back his reputation and prove to everyone that he could still produce at an elite level in the NHL. Instead of signing with St. Louis, Staal signed with Central Division rival, the Minnesota Wild for a 3 year, $10.5 million contract. Lining up with Robby Fabbri could have been magic in the making and for an AAV of $3.5 million, is a cost that I am willing to take.
Mikkel Boedker – Left Wing
Since Doug Armstrong was in the market for a Left Winger (who knew), Mikkel Boedker could have been a great addition to the 1st or 2nd line. Boedker was signed today by the team that knocked St. Louis out of the playoffs, one round shy of the Stanley Cup Finals, for 4 years and $16 million. The former 2008, 8th overall selection did not give himself much to go off of offensivley with Phoenix but certainly turned the heat up after being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. Before being traded last season only mustered up 39 points in 62 games, while posting a jaw dropping -28 rating. His +/- rating improved while with Colorado to an overall -5, but offensivley managed 12 points in 8 games. For $4 million per season and a Blues defense to help back him, a well calculated risk.
Joe Colborne – Center
Signed today for $5 million over 2 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Playing 217 games over the last 3 seasons with Calgary, Joe managed an average of 0.479 points per game. If Doug Armstrong was wanting to go the cheap and effective route, at 26 years old, Colborne would have been an excellent add to this Blues lineup for the going cost of $2.5 million per season.
Lee Stempniak – Right Wing
Talk about cheap and effective. One of the most underrated players for his dollar in the NHL is Lee Stempniak. Today the 33-year-old, Right Winger signed a 2 year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. The former Blue, Stempniak would have been welcomed back to the lineup in order to help the penalty kill and provide extra leadership to his team, and certainly for his underrated offensive talent. The NHL journeyman spent last season splitting time between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. With the Devils, Lee managed 41 points in 63 games (0.65 points per game) and 10 points in 19 games with Boston (.53 points per game).
Combined, these 4 players would have cost the Blues a whopping $12.5 million AAV. Granted, with still needing to sign Jaden Schwartz and others, you couldn’t have signed every one of them. However, Doug Armstrong certainly missed the boat and potential steal of players to have paid him major dividends. Lets hope that his decisions do not end up costing him his season.