When David Backes left the St. Louis Blues this offseason, they saw one of their longest tenured player and leaders depart without much fanfare. Backes slipped into free agency and landed a big deal with the Boston Bruins to work down in their lineup and give them some secondary scoring and two-way play. With Backes gone, the Blues decided to lock up one of their other cornerstone forwards, giving Alex Steen a four-year extension on Friday.
As Matt Larkin of The Hockey News opines in his latest column, it was Backes’ departure that made it necessary to lock up Steen and not completely turn the keys over to the new wave of St. Louis stars (namely Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz). To do it, they may have overpaid slightly. Larkin emphasizes Steen’s checkered injury history when discussing the terms, and he’s right to do so. Steen hasn’t played in 80+ games since 2006-07 when he was with the Maple Leafs, and indeed has only suited up for more than 70 twice in his eight-year Blues career.
- Kevin Shattenkirk was going to be traded. There were no doubts in his mind that at the draft or during free agent frenzy he’d be on the move out of St. Louis. It just made too much sense to everyone involved. As Louie Korac of NHL.com writes however, Shattenkirk didn’t get dealt and is very excited about it. “The grass isn’t always as greener. It’s a cliché, but it kind of fits in this sense. Don’t just leave to leave, make sure that it’s a good fit for you. St. Louis has been a great fit ever since I stepped foot here, ” Shattenkirk says, when talking about the potential trade. He also notes that being given the alternate-captain role for this upcoming season (the Blues named Alex Pietrangelo their newest captain) was a huge moment for him, as he’d been dreading a phone call from GM Doug Armstrong during the trade rumors. Even though he wasn’t dealt this summer, don’t think the rumors will go away – an elite talent on an expiring contract is exactly the type of player that moves at the trade deadline.
- When the Blues signed Jake Allen to a huge extension, and dealt Brian Elliott to the Flames they needed a new full-time backup for the upcoming season. Carter Hutton, the man who eventually was given that job, says it was a no-brainer to come to St. Louis. After three years with Nashville, the 30-year old backup puts it simply: “It’s one of those things. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Hutton has faced the Blues six times in his career and is 0-2-3 with an .882 save percentage and 3.42 GAA.