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Blues '03-04 Post Mortem

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04-17-2004, 03:31 PM
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Blues '03-04 Post Mortem

If you're replying, please don't include all of this post - just clip out what you want to reply to or make a new post and reference my comments here. (IB)

Well, another season has come and gone...and once again, the Blues finish the season without the Stanley Cup. After injuries to MacInnis and Jackman, a slump from mid-December through the beginning of March and the firing of Joel Quenneville, the Blues needed a late season surge to get into the playoffs where they were promptly bounced in 5 games by San Jose.

Obviously the team needs to make changes. Who stays? Who goes? Do the Blues return to the youth movement and make use of their prospects, or wait to see what free agency holds under the new CBA?

My suggestions...assuming there is an '04-05:

GOAL - It's time for Curtis Sanford. He played well in Worcester and deserves a shot at the NHL. Divis might yet be a starter in the NHL....or he may be destined to be a backup. The wild card here is what the Blues do with Osgood. I think he'll get sent packing if only to save money. He played well enough in '03-04 especially considering the funk the rest of the team went into, but even at $3 million will still be too expensive. If he comes back, Divis is the odd man out as he has nothing else to learn at Worcester.
LIKELY '04-05: Sanford, Divis

DEFENSE - Even with the impending retirement of MacInnis, the Blues look set here. Pronger, Jackman (who'll return from a bad shoulder) and Backman will make a great top-3 on the blueline, and Backman will only get better as the PP QB to replace MacInnis. After that, there's some questions. Do the Blues bring back Weinrich, who could help mentor the younger defensemen? Is Salvador going to use his shot and play physical on defense, or continue to leave fans wanting more? Is Walker the mean, nasty physical presence this team has needed for years? Is Jamie Pollock a forward or a defenseman?

It's almost certain that Christian LaFlamme and Jeff Finley won't come back. Each is a decent 5/6 guy but nothing more and won't get any better. Alexander Khavanov is also likely gone unless the Blues decide his poor defensive play is getting better. I might convert him to forward and play him there, but I wouldn't bring him back on defense. Mike Stuart impressed me when he was called up, and I think he has potential with the Blues. Murray Baron can leave and I'd never miss him. He was mediocre, failed to step it up when needed, and teams learned to go after him with success late in the season.

I think Salvador and Walker will be back, and Pollock will be given every chance to stick on defense with Stuart being the 7th guy. As much as I like Weinrich, I don't think Pleau will bring him back...but if he does, Stuart starts off at Worcester.
LIKELY '04-05: Pronger, Jackman, Backman, Salvador, Walker, Pollock, Stuart

FORWARD - Lots of turnover here, and lots of holes to fill.

I'd bring back Mike Sillinger and Dallas Drake. Each would fit perfectly on a 3rd line - not on the 1st or 2nd line. Sillinger wins faceoffs, and the Blues did well with him filling that role after he was acquired. Drake brings energy and hustle, and you know you'll get an honest effort out of him. Steve Martins would also look good as a PK'er and the 4th line center. Martins takes the spot of Danton, who I has inked in as the 4th line center until he was arrested. I think Danton is done in the NHL after this.

As much as I dogged Weight, I'd keep him. I think he'll rebound and be solid in '04-05. Boguinecki had injury problems and while I don't think he has 22-27-49 in him like he put up in '02-03, he'll be good for 15 goals and that's perfect on the 3rd line.

I'm undecided about Pascal Rheaume. If he stays, fine. If he leaves, that's fine too. Same for Ryan Johnson - he does nothing for me. If he stays, move Martins over to the wing. Both are 4th-liners, nothing more.

Pavol Demitra is gone. Period. He wrote himself off the team with his uninspired playoff performance, and unless he takes a huge paycut (which I suspect he won't), Blues management won't have him back. If Tkachuk wasn't making $9 million next year, he'd be gone too but the Blues will have a hard time moving him. If I get even a marginally decent offer for Walt, he gets dealt. Also leaving are Mayers (a complete bust this season, never tried to use his speed), Low (marginal enforcer who can't skate and is worthless when on the ice), and Mellanby (couldn't resist taking a stupid penalty at times, will likely retire).

Which Petr Cajanek is for real? Let's say he's the 2nd-line center to start but on a short leash. (read: if there's a good offer for him, move him along.) If Cajanek is sent packing, John Pohl becomes this team's 2nd-line center.

This means there's spots to be won on the wings...and the Blues can't fill all of those spots from within. Sejna could get another crack on the wing with Weight, but may need more time at Worcester. Zakharov will be a top-6 sniper one day...but not in '04-05.
LIKELY '04-05: Weight, Cajanek/Pohl, Sillinger, Drake, Boguinecki, Martins, Tkachuk (until he's traded), Sejna (which means there's 5-7 spots to be filled here).


No promises this time.
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04-18-2004, 04:36 PM
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I take it that keeping Savage is out of the question?

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I'd be OK with dumping the three big offensive guys personally. None of Tkachuk, Weight, or Demitra earned their large salaries this year and Demitra and Tkachuk haven't been effective in the playoffs in a long time. Weight has that going for him, but at the coin he's making, I expect more from Weight too. Time to take some asswhoopings for the health of this franchise. Dump the high-priced "elite" guys that haven't led this team anywhere in the playoffs and spread out that cash for cheaper guys (and more of them). Keep Pronger because he's still pretty effective and #1 defensemen do not grow on trees. This team has grown stale with the veterans it has and it's time to bring in some younger blood. And that younger blood should not come from within the franchise because there's next to no one ready to step up and handle that kind of pressure as of now. It's going to be one hell of a free-for-all once the CBA gets hammered out; so, there will be plenty of options out there for the Blues to look at. Most of the players in the league aren't signed past this year; so, I don't think it's too ridiculous to want Pleau to start making some shrewd deals (I'm talking about contracts more than trades). He spent a lot of the franchise's budget on a handful of players and it just didn't work. Pronger needs to take a pay cut too because he got paid stupid money before he should have (that ain't Pronger's fault either, Larry Pleau). Tkachuk's contract has seriously hindered this franchise and that was a fact well before I got tired of his "timely" disappearing acts in the playoffs. Like I said earlier, he's a perfect fit for the Rangers, especially now that the Rangers dumped a lot of their stars. They have money to spend and holes to fill; they can have him. There are just a lot of changes that need to be made and cash has to be freed up to do it.

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Goalie: I believe Osgood did enough to activate his option for next year, which means he'll likely be back as the starter. As for backup, I'd rather have Sanford fill that spot. Divis does nothing for me. He is a converted positional goalie and doesn't have the speed to be a legit starter. Sanford is younger and IMO better. I'd go with Osgood and Sanford as next years tandem with Divis playing the mentor role in Worcester for (hopefully) Nissenen(if not Nissenen then Rudkowsky).

St. Louis: Osgood-Sanford
Worcester: Divis-Nissenen/Rudkowsky

D: I think we are looking at one FA signing. Pronger, Jackman and Backman make a very enviable top 3 but they are predominantly defense oriented. IMO we need a top 4 PP QB. I'd suggest Numminen but he is likely out of our price range. If we can't get him I'd try for Modry or Zhitnik. Salvador, Walker, Stuart and Pollock are the 5-8 men. I like the fact that both Stuart and Pollock are righties with heavy shots. It lessens the need for a righty to replace MacInnis with. Also, is Robin Johnsson going to play in Worcester next year or not? A lot of people have forgotten about him because of his Cancer issue but he still has an interesting package of size and offensive awareness( plus he is a righty with top 4 potential, something we are in short supply of). I don't think he'll be as good as Backman but he still has to figure into the teams long term plans. Also, does anyone think Belle will play in Worcester next year, or will we play him in Peoria and use him like we did Jackman?

St. Louis: Pronger/Jackman; Backman/FA D man(Numminen/Modry/Zhitnik); Salvador/Walker; Pollock
Worcester: Stuart/Brimmanis; Byrne/Jonsson(hopefully); Belle/Shefflemaier

First line: I do not get any of the anti-Demitra post's based on this years post season. Of the top three forwards he was IMO the best. I'd like to see him come back next year(though definately not at 6.5 mil). IMO we need to at least have a solid top line. Since Tkachuk is practically unmovable that means Demitra should stay for the chemistry. I'd like to see a top line of Tkachuk, Sillinger and Demitra next season. That combo was VERY interesting prior to the PO's and provided most of the offense during the PO's.

Second line: As for the second line, Weight has to go. He was absolutely putrid during this years PO's. He didn't even skate during game 5, he got on the ice and stood. I'd try trading him to Ottawa for Havlat or Hossa( one of these two will be gone, why can't we try to get them). If it were me I'd even pay part of his salary. In any case he has to go. IMO you need to get an NHL caliber winger or center as the return( I'd also offer him to Dallas in exchange for Arnott). Depending on who we trade Weight for we'd need either a center or a RW for the second line. Fortunately there are an abundance of wingers and centers for us to choose from. For Centers we have Conroy( probably the most likely FA signing the Blues will make), Damphousse, Nedved, Nylander, Rolston, Zhamnov, Primeau and Stumpel. For wingers there is Hull, Shanny, Murray, Palffy, Kariya, Selanne, Recchi, Ruchinsky, Arvedsson, and McAmmond. The third player on the line will be either Sejna or a very cheap FA pick up( ala Ruchinsky, McAmmond or Arvedsson).

Third Line: I don't think Cajanek is an ideal second line center. IMO he is either a top line role player(like he was late in the season) or a third line PK specialist. I'd like to see him and Drake( at a much lower price than 2.5 million) as the third line anchors. Put them with a speedy finesse guy( maybe Bogunieki) and I think you have a very good, 2-way third line.

Fourth Line: I think Danton is gone. It is a real shame too because he looked to be the anchor for the fourth unit. I'd like to see RJ and Rycroft back but not Rheaume so that still leaves us a LW short of a line. IMO we don't need Low to come back because Walker is big enough to fill the enforcer role. I think we should let Valeev have another crack at the spot( with Martins there in case he doesn't clinch it). He is essentially the same type of player that Danton was and has size on top of it.

Worcester is where the real fun will take place. Zakharov(I think, I'm not sure about him), Skohtov, Troliga, Johnsson, Mihknov, Belle and I believe Riddle will be eligible for AHL play and I find it hard to believe that they won't make the team. Them, along with Disalvatore, a more experienced Hemmingway, Pohl, Black and Glumac gives Worcester a good amount of offense. Evan's, McClaren and King provide muscle. From what I've read about Ready he is another of the Danton/Nash type pest's. It also looks like he has decent hands so he could figure into the top 3 lines for Worcester( or potentially compete with Valeev and Martins for the fourth line LW spot).

St. Louis: Tkachuk Sillinger Demitra(the STD line? ); (pretty much all spots are open for competition)Shanny Conroy Murray( if we throw caution to the wind and want to go for it all); Bogunieki Cajanek Drake; Rycroft RJ Valeev; Martins.

Worcester: Zakharov Pohl Glumac; Skohtov McClement Hemmingway; Glumac Black DiSalvatore; King/Ready Evans McClaren

My ideal team for next year( using this years salaries):
Tkachuk Sillinger Demitra - 18.3 mil
Sejna Conroy Murray- 6.6 mil
Bogunieki Cajanek Drake-3.5 mil
Rycroft Johnson Valeev- 1.6 mil
Pronger Jackman- 10.5 mil
Backman Numminen- 6 mil
Salvador Walker- 1.7 mil
Osgood- Sanford 4 mil

At their current salaries that would put the NHL team budget at $52.2 million. That isn't too far off from the rumored 45 mil hard CAP that may be put in place. Pronger, Demitra, Sillinger, Drake , Numminen and Osgood will all likely accept a cut in pay( maybe not a dramatic cut but a slight cut) which could make this a feasible lineup for next year.

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Personally, I thought Osgood played well in the SJ series, despite being hurt. Lots of us are wondering if news will come out that he was playing with something torn in a tender area.


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04-19-2004, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by kimzey59
Goalie: I believe Osgood did enough to activate his option for next year, which means he'll likely be back as the starter. As for backup, I'd rather have Sanford fill that spot. Divis does nothing for me. He is a converted positional goalie and doesn't have the speed to be a legit starter. Sanford is younger and IMO better. I'd go with Osgood and Sanford as next years tandem with Divis playing the mentor role in Worcester for (hopefully) Nissenen(if not Nissenen then Rudkowsky).

If Osgood is on this team next year another 1st round exit is in store, if the playoffs at all...His failure was just as bad as KT and PAvol...He must be terminated...1-7 in last 8 playoff games and he's done enough to return?

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04-19-2004, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Salad+Croutons
I take it that keeping Savage is out of the question?
Sure, we can keep him....for October. Maybe even November. After that his production sinks faster than the Titantic.

AFA Osgood goes...the team's bigger problem was not scoring when they needed goals but Osgood gave up some questionable goals in the series (especially between his arm and body). Osgood isn't the main reason the Blues lost, but he's not exactly going to inspire fear in the opposing team, either. If he's available at $1.5-2 million I'd consider him for one more season as Sanford gets ready. Anything more than $2 million and I'd have no problem letting him walk.

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GOALTENDING-What has Osgood done to warrant staying? 4-8 playoff record and less than .900 save%. The last two starting goalies that have been run out of town at least were able to win a playoff series. Give Divis and/or Sanford a real shot.

DEFENSE-Pronger/Backman/Jackman/Salvador is a good top four to me. Walker and Pollock would concern me some as 5/6. Both of them have both seemed to have trouble with the speed of the game. So...

Keep one of Baron/Weinrich/Finley. None were that impressive this year but if you look at my top six that isn't an overly experienced group.

Alexander Khavanov-Don't go away mad. Just go away. I will pay for your plane ticket out of town.

Al MacInnis-If you don't come back, thanks for the memories.

FORWARDS-I was giving this some thought and I came up with the least likely forward to leave...Mark Rycroft. Fat contracts will keep Tkachuk and Weight here. Demitra should stay, he is the most talented player here. Cajanek and Sillinger should return. Drake if he wants to.

Let guys like Johnson, Boguniecki, Mayers, Low, and Martins fight it out and EARN a roster spot over some youngsters. If someone like Rheaume is around then we know we have a serious problem with player development. Sorry Danton, guilty or innocent, there is no place for this type of distraction. Savage was a waste of time.

Mellanby said he will probably retire.

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IB, thanks for starting this thread. I wanted to do it by myself but had no time due to large amount of work…
So, I agree with you on most of your opinions. Besides. I’ve just read an article on stltoday.com stating that Pleau has already chose the direction of considerable reducing of payroll and filling the team with so much needed youth. As far as I understand Pleau’s plan he is not willing to give up on all top-players at once thus getting little return (it was stated that rebuilding could go a year or two). Tkachuk and Demitra would be moved (Demitra most likely this June). Osgood is a question, but would be let go if another solid and cheaper G could be obtained. Pronger goes nowhere. Weight is the second elite player most likely not to be traded after Pronger… And of course Backman and Jackman are qualified.
Uh… I like it. That’s what I’ve been pondering recently by myself.

In my opinion Demitra does have trade value. And even high one, especially when opposing team does not have to undertake any significant amount of salary. I think that Buffalo is one of the best destinations for him. Sabres can unload Satan (most likely, although I’d like to have Drury) and his approx. 4.5 mil. Besides, they’ve got three NHL caliber Goalies which means they’d need to unload one of them – most likely Noronen. So, Demitra for Satan and Noronen sounds good for both sides. Since Blues could count on Noronen as starter (tough question) they can let Osgood go and save another 3-4 mil or Noronen could be used as a trade bait to get another starting G making less than Osgood.
Tkachuk’s trade is a tougher question. But possibility of moving him depends on how you approach the deal. In my opinion KT would have more trade value before next years trade deadline. Look at this. Tkachuk makes 10 mil a year (two more years). Imagine noone wants to undertake purely his 10 mil a year. Then the proposal should be made either by eating some of his salary or getting in return players that combining make around 5 mil. So other team would have to undertake around 5 mil which should not be impossible to contending teams. The deal sending Tkachuk to Leafs for Mogilny (5 mil) + … sounds reasonable (Mogilny could also be later dealt).
As a result Blues could save around 7 mil on deals and around 8 mil due to Al’s and Mel’s retirements. If we decrease our payroll that much Blues could have a more reasonable payroll at approx. 45 mil.
Any thoughts?

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04-20-2004, 11:14 AM
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I have been thinking about this all week. To be honest, I think something is very wrong w/ this team, and I am not talking about the tallent on the ice.

Last season (02-03), the Blues played 40 minute games. Usually coming out of the first down by one goal. Infact at some point tword the end of the year, they had 20+ wins after falling behind in the 1st period.

This year, we had the same problem, only playing 30-40 minute games. The starts varied, either strong and sit back or getting lucky late in the game/overtime. In my mind, this started when Turgeon left and Weight came on board. When the team won the Presidents trophy and then got the the Western Conference finals the following year, they worked hard. Some say they over acheived, but to do that one must outwork the other team.

I am not saying that I blame Weight. I am just pointing this out. Over the last two years, this team has become complacent and inconsistent. Something needs to be done.

I didn't like Q's D first system, where we sat back and clogged up the neutral zone (what we played this past year). It caused the team to sit back to far and let the other team build momentum. At least two years ago, Q had a system that allowed our creative players, Demitra and Cajanek and Weight to create opportunities on the rush. This didn't happen this past season. Yes, I know we didn't have the snipers, but... I don't think Q or K really used the teams stregnths. (Despite having Mel on the team, we are not slow at forward and could skate with most teams).

I was really peaved and still am that K was given a long term contract w/o so much as a half season interm to see what he could do. There are better options out there. (Yes, I would still love to see Nolan behind the bench).

Sorry, that was a rant about the system...

Now for the players. The team must decide if they want to compete for the playoffs, be a contender, or win the draft lotto for Crosby (We can do that if all 4 are dumped for prospects).

Personally, I think One of the big 3 needs to go, but he has to bring back something decent in return (which is why we can't dump Walt - we would have to eat his contract and what we would get back is kind of up in the air). It is between Demitra, which Cajanek could replace, or Weight. Teams that would bring either in would be LA, Toronto, Buffalo, Philli (Reccki and Primeau are UFAs), or Nashville (yes the Preds). I think the Preds would have a lot of interest in Weight, he would take them to the next level and create a strong 2nd line. LA will not be paying Allison or Deadmarsh so they have financial room and they need to make the playoffs because they are in LA. Buffalo has room and so does Toronto.

Moving Demitra is written in stone. He would bring back Satan (if we want to compete next year) or Antropov (build for the future) so we would have a good winger.

Moving Weight will be based on either signing a UFA or bringing up Pohl. But it will be a lot of pressure for Pohl to jump into a top 6. Shoot, maybe we move Weight for a decent prospect (Carter, please... but not likely) and a mid round pick. Glad I don't have to make that decision.

The D is set, but I would look to add Modry for depth and to tutor Backman on running the point. Pollock and Stuart and Walker can fight for the 6,7,and 8 spot.

Bring up Sejna and Glumac and maybe Pohl.

Lines would look like this:

1. Walt, Cajanek, Sejna
2. Satan/Antropov, Pohl, Glumac
3. Drake, Sillinger, Bogie
4. Mayers, Rycroft, and Johnson (Low will bounce in and out w/ Walker as enforcer)

Pronger, Modry
Jackman, Backman
Salvador, Stuart or Walker

Osgood and Sanford

Last edited by Frenzy1: 04-20-2004 at 11:18 AM.
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04-20-2004, 04:23 PM
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What we really should have done (and I mentioned it at the time) was deal away for the future at the trade deadline. It's not like this team was going to go far in the postseason, we'd have been better off dealing guys that had trade value and stocking up on picks/prospects so we'd be sitting in a much better situation come '06 or '07.

Demitra would be trade bait at the draft - yes whoever took him would have to qualify him, but we could write "future considerations" into the deal if necessary. Otherwise, I'd sell him off to the highest bidder. I wanted to trade Weight to Detroit (yes, *that* Detroit) before they got Lang from Washington. I'd at least explore that route and see if the Wings have any interest, with us getting fair return for him even if we have to eat part of his salary.

Personally, I think we should prepare for some rough times ahead. The playoff streak may be in serious jeopardy, but IMO that's OK. If missing the playoffs for a year or two sets this team up beautifully for 3-4 years down the road, then it's worth it. This franchise *has* to develop from within and stay the course all the way through instead of getting the itchy finger and deciding to make a leap of faith and trade away hoping we can grab the Cup w/o falling into the canyon.

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