The St. Louis Blues expect to have almost everyone back in their lineup from last season with a few exceptions. However, what about the season after that? General manager Doug Armstrong will have to make some tough decisions with players like Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson and Brayden Schenn all hitting unrestricted free agency. While it’s likely that all three would like to return on long-term deals, that isn’t likely due to the team’s salary cap situation, growing list of developing prospects as well as the approaching expansion draft.
With that in mind, St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon writes that the team’s top priority will be to sign Pietrangelo and that could cause problems for the others, especially Schenn. After an impressive 2017-18 season, Schenn’s numbers dropped as going from 70 points to just 54 last season. However, if Schenn returns to his old numbers, which is very possible as the Blues struggled on the power play last year, he could easily price his way out of St. Louis.
On top of that, with the way players have been paid this offseason on the free-agent market, Schenn could easily command $7MM per year, he’d be an expensive player, especially with ever improving play of Robert Thomas and the Jordan Kyrou. With those two top talents, the Blues’ need for Schenn shouldn’t be as necessary for the 2020-21 season. The team might also not want to bring Schenn back because any deal would likely force them to add a no-movement clause, something the team might be reluctant to do with the expansion draft quickly approaching.
- The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark (subscription required) writes that Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is banking that Andre Burakovsky’s biggest problem in previous seasons with the Washington Capitals was his lack of playing time. The GM believes that if the Avalanche increase his ice time, Burakovksy should be able to take that next step into becoming a solid top-six player. The 24-year-old did score 17 goals and 38 points back in the 2015-16 season, but hasn’t been able to take the next step. He averaged just 11:08 last season and put up just 12 goals and 25 points. With that in mind, Burakovsky is expected to play on the second line for the Avalanche this season and the hope is that new center Nazem Kadri will give him the guidance he needs to develop into a solid scoring winger. The team has struggled with finding a solid No. 2 center, but the GM believes that the team’s second-line woes are about to be over.
- The Winnipeg Free Press’ Jason Bell writes that with two gaping holes in the Winnipeg Jets defense this year after the team lost Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot in free agency this summer, Tucker Poolman remains a top candidate to claim one of those two spots. The 26-year-old blueliner has dealt with injury problems in the past, but believes himself to healthy and at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds could be a valuable asset and a cheap one (two years at $775K). The fact that Poolman is right-handed is another advantage as the team only has two veteran right-handed blueliners in Dustin Byfuglien and Neal Pionk. After seeing 24 games with the Jets in 2017-18, he didn’t make an appearance with the Jets last season, but an ankle injury derailed half his season as he only managed to appear in 43 games for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.