While they’ve hardly been eliminated from the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues are definitely having a disappointing season. With that in mind, the St. Louis Blues are likely to make some changes this offseason. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford (subscription required) writes in a mailbag column that one change that shouldn’t happen is a coaching change. While the coach always must be held accountable for his actions, the scribe writes that it’s too early to push all the team’s failings on head coach Mike Yeo, who has only been with the team a little more than a year. Many of the leadership and chemistry issues that the team has were already there before Yeo got there.
While Rutherford does admit it’s disturbing that Yeo’s last coaching stint with the Minnesota Wild had many of the same issues, Yeo deserves more time to right the ship, which might require some personnel changes on the ice as many players are not pulling their weight.
One other issue is the team has struggled with key injuries to key players. The team failed to find an offensive replacement when Robby Fabbri or Jaden Schwartz were injured. In fact in 20 games without Schwartz, the team was 9-10-1.
- In the same piece, Rutherford writes that while many people would like the team to buyout players who are struggling in St. Louis like Patrik Berglund, Jake Allen and Alex Steen, that won’t happen this offseason. All of their contracts would be too expensive to buyout. Berglund’s buyout cost would be $9.7MM, Allen’s would be $9MM and Steen’s contract would cost them $10.6MM. The most likely buyout candidate might be defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who would only cost the team $3.6MM and would count just $1.8MM against the cap for the next two years.
- The Edmonton Oilers announced they have activated center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off of injured reserve Saturday. The 24-year-old has been out since Jan. 13 with a rib injury. While the former first overall pick will not be rejoining a team headed for the playoffs, he might bring up his own value with a good end of the season. Nugent-Hopkins could be a legitimate trade candidate this offseason. He was having a solid season in which he had 16 goals and 31 points in 46 games. With teams being desperate for centers and the Oilers having quite a few of them, they might find a taker for him.
- The Eeli Tolvanen countdown continues as the Nashville Predators are awaiting their top prospect after his KHL team wraps up their season. The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan writes that Tolvanen’s team, Jokerit, opened their first-round playoff series Saturday with a double-overtime loss. The earliest possible day for Jokerit to be eliminated would be this Wednesday. If so, Tolvanen could join Nashville for their remainder of the season and the playoffs if they feel he can contribute. Of course, the Predators are loaded with depth since the trade deadline after acquiring Ryan Hartman and signing Mike Fisher.
- Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said that Vladislav Kamenev, who has been out with a broken arm since November after being injured in his first game for the Avalanche, has been cleared and might be assigned to the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL in the next couple of days for a conditioning assignment, according to Denver Post’s Mike Chambers. Kamenev, who was acquired on Nov. 6 in the three-team trade between Colorado, Ottawa and Nashville involving Kyle Turris and Matt Duchene, was injured while playing in his first game with Colorado. A key prospect included in the Avalanche’s haul for moving Duchene, Kamenev has played just 14 AHL games this year, having totaled three goals and nine assists. His return is just another talented player ready to step into the Avalanche’s lineup.
- Chambers also mentioned in the same tweet that goalie Jonathan Bernier has also been cleared after suffering a concussion on Feb. 16. The Avalanche added that he was a full participant in practice Saturday and is expected to be activated soon.