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Decisions, decisions, decisions...

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Old
05-20-2007, 11:12 PM
  #1
Brandur
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Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Am I the only Blues fan who was amazed by Polak last year? I thought he was as positionally as sound as any of our veteran defensemen, and it was refreshing to see one of our defensemen play a physically aggressive game and lay some big hits without taking himself out of position to do so.

Nobody knows for sure what roster moves the Blues will make this offseason. I am sure there is a plan in place, but I also suspect Blues management will be looking for any opportunity to improve the club, and we will all be surprised by a move or two. Whatever changes are in store, I hope there will be a roster spot reserved for Polak. I'm excited about EJ coming into the fold, but I think/hope that he won't be taking Polak's spot on the roster.

Whether or not you agree with my assessment of Polak, I think most of you will agree that Andy Murray seems to be comfortable with younger players, and I think we will see the Blues--to some extent--break from the philosophy of valuing experienced veterans over more talented rookies. Dallas Drake is the exception that proves the rule. We still need leadership, and experienced players play a vital role in mentoring younger players.
That said, I think the Blues are facing a major transition. The team's ability to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup will be largely determined by how well they manage their assets and integrate young players in the next two years.

Many of us have bought into the notion that we can add a rookie or two each year and look for stop-gap help by dipping into the free agent pool. I'm not optimistic that the team will have much success attracting the more coveted free agents. My predictions: I think we're looking at a low-risk, high-reward FA (Allison would be an interesting choice--could help the power play, and if he is injured, or a slug, Soderberg will likely be ready by December) and perhaps we could see a trade for a reclamation project (Samsonov could be next season's Guerin, IMO.) I also think Tkachuk will be tendered an offer. I don't think he's the answer to the Blues' needs, but he is without doubt the best bang for the buck, and it would be foolish not to discuss with Keith the possibility of his return.

Nobody would think that these additions could make the Blues bona fide contenders. The point is that if we're going to build a team that can be competitive over the long haul (dare we say, a new dynasty?) then we need to continue focusing on developing our prospects and promoting from within, rather than looking to add top-end free agents as a magic bullet, or even a stop-gap. Timing is a big factor here--we have to get the prospects clicking on all cylinders at the same time (it's a bit like alchemy: you can get all the ingredients together, but the heavens have to be properly aligned). I think the Blues have the right people in charge to pull it off.

Somebody will object that the team needs to add a legit elite player to help increase revenues--a new face to help sell the team. I say that this argument is over-stated, but winning is the best marketing strategy. Better players could help in that regard, and I'm all for it--but I'm not in favor of adding several FAs if doing so holds up the development of prospects. There's a log-jam at every position in this organization, which is a good problem to have, but management can't continue sitting on the fence. Sooner or later, the Blues will have to decide whether they are ready to move forward. Perhaps next season, the answer will be "not yet", and I'm ok with that. But let's give it a go. And for crying out loud, let's quit daydreaming about which superstar free agents Dave Checketts can afford to hire, and let's get excited about the young talent in this organization!

Concession and apology: Yes, I agree that the title of this post was ill-considered and misleading. I apologize if anyone opened this thread in the hopes of reading about some existential dilemma.


Last edited by Brandur: 05-20-2007 at 11:26 PM.
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05-21-2007, 07:20 AM
  #2
lee17
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Just a quick question. Who, other than Polak, from Peoria do you consider legitimate
prospects and not just injury filler. I made a statement in another thread concerning the lack of depth between the guys that are here now and the guys coming in from juniors, college and abroad. I see a lot of potential for a few years down the road if everyone pans out, or at least a decent percentage of them. I proposed a trade to Pittsburgh, actually Turnbullfan did, I just picked the guys I would go after myself.
I really like Polak too, I think maybe another year at Peoria to let him be the #1 guy down there and skate 30 minutes a game, develop his game a little more, he could really be a major player for years. Knowing heres there should put us in a good position to make a deal for some offensive help.

I see several guys either here now or coming soon that will be solid guys, Jackman,
Polak, McKee, Salvador, Jackson. Our defense looks very promising. The forwards are a little shaky IMO, a good percentage of them are Euros and I'm always afraid of them not coming over. If I were looking at drafting a european guy I would look at guys already over here playing junior, like Voracek out of the Q. [ just an example of the situation, I don't think we have a shot at him]

I guess my point is I see a lot of disparity between age brackets of our top offensive players now and the kids coming in. Backes, Stempniak and Boyes are the younger guys that are going to be here a while. Who else do you see here in a few years? If you were to make a deal or 2 to help fill that prospect void of that 21-23 year old age bracket would you go for?

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05-21-2007, 09:19 AM
  #3
barnburner
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Pola'k, for a 20 year old dman, was amazing with his poise and excellent defensive positioning. The guy absolutely lays some huge hits on people, and doesn't pick and choose his targets - if you are there - you get hit.
He's got a nice hard shot from the point, and seems to get it on net most of the time. I really think we are looking at a guy that is going to be a top 4 dman in a couple of years.

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05-21-2007, 10:36 AM
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Prussian_Blue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lee17
Just a quick question. Who, other than Polak, from Peoria do you consider legitimate prospects and not just injury filler?
Actually, if Scott Jackson is signed (as I expect he will be), Peoria's defense in 2007-08 will likely consist of all "legitimate prospects," as well as Aaron Mackenzie, who is a warrior, a leader, and the heart and soul of Peoria's team. Coach Dave Baseggio has nothing but praise, respect, and admiration for Mackenzie, who is a solid citizen in the community as well as a leader on the ice.

In addition to Jackson, and probably Pola'k, whom we've already discussed here, the Peoria defense next year will likely feature:

-- Steve Wagner, a late-season FA signing out of Minnesota State-Mankato. The Blues are said to be very high on him. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do over a full season in the AHL.

-- Tomas Mojzis, who is currently an RFA, but who played pretty well in his "cup of coffee" stint with the Blues at season's end. I would expect to see him re-signed.

-- Zack FitzGerald, who has missed a lot of time due to injury and suspension (both due to over-aggressive play) in his first two pro seasons. He's still under contract for another year, and I expect to see him use that year in Peoria to establish himself as a future third-pairing NHL defenseman with size and toughness.

-- Alexander Hellstrom, who is apparently signed, sealed, and delivered for Peoria next season. He's not an offensive dynamo by any means, but rather a steady, solid, stay-at-home defenseman with just a hint of a mean streak... in other words, the kind of defenseman that a successful team needs to have one or two of in order to be successful.

Up front:

-- Michal Birner, whom I expect will be a new Ryan Johnson for the Blues within the next couple of years. He is a good skater withj an excellent work ethic and a desire to improve. He also doesn't need a map to find the offensive zone, and knows what to do with the puck when he's there.

-- Charles Linglet, who has some skating issues, but has good hands, good size (6-02, 212), and a nose for the net. He's a little older than the "average" prospect at 24 going on 25 (born 06-22-82), but he's been a big scorer everywhere he's been from juniors to the ECHL, and now the AHL.

-- DJ King, who is an absolute beast at 6-03, 230, and has been called "the toughest kid in the AHL" by Coach Baseggio. He skates well enough to be a factor on the checking line, and brings a little more to the table than most other guys who are known primarily for their pugilistic skills.

Also coming into the mix for Peoria next year are Nick Drazenovic, who revived his status as a prospect with a very solid playoff in the WHL this year, and (hopefully) Carl Soderberg. If Josh Soares (signed as a free agent out of the University of Maine after the Frozen Four last year) is also brought back, you can add him to the list of legitimate prospects as well.

Guys like Mike Glumac, Yan Stastny, Jon DiSalvatore, Ryan Ramsay (who is a borderline "legitimate" prospect), and Peter Sejna may be brought back to round out the Peoria roster up front, but these guys have all pretty much proven that they're, at best, AHL players who can fill in at the NHL level for brief periods without embarrassing themselves or being a detriment to their team.

In goal, of course, there's Marek Schwarz, whom I do not want to trade (despite what you may have read in other threads), and Chris Beckford-Tseu. Both are legitimate NHL goaltending prospects in my mind, Schwarz as a future starter and franchise keystone, and Beckford-Tseu as the Legace-style backup who can rise to the occasion and be the starter when needed.

P_B


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05-21-2007, 11:49 AM
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I hope Birner turns out to be more than a new Ryan Johnson. He has much better hands than Johnson and should be more of a factor, especially after hurting his wrist to start out last season.

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05-21-2007, 06:32 PM
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Brandur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lee17 View Post
Just a quick question. Who, other than Polak, from Peoria do you consider legitimate
prospects and not just injury filler...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prussian_Blue View Post
Guys like Mike Glumac, Yan Stastny, Jon DiSalvatore, Ryan Ramsay (who is a borderline "legitimate" prospect), and Peter Sejna may be brought back to round out the Peoria roster up front, but these guys have all pretty much proven that they're, at best, AHL players who can fill in at the NHL level for brief periods without embarrassing themselves or being a detriment to their team.
To answer Lee17 and respond to Prussian Blue's assertion (quoted), I think Glumac, Whitfield, Stastny and Linglet are all legit prospects who are ready and deserving of a promotion to the NHL. I think Sejna's ship has sailed, so I won't even address him. None of the other players mentioned have had a real opportunity to show their stuff under Andy Murray. Glumac looked solid in the 'Note, IMO, and I think he would excel under Murray. Whitfield may be overaged, but the guy is talented and highly motivated. Stastny is a chippy guy with something to prove, and Linglet is a hard working stud. If the team were willing to cut ties with veteran players like Drake, R. Johnson, Hinote, etc., I think any of Glumac, Whitfield, Stastny or Linglet are more than capable of filling those roles (for less money), and the team wouldn't skip a beat. In fact, experience and leadership factor notwithstanding, I think the Blues would be a more competitive team if we cleared the roster space to promote those players. That's just my opinion.

I have nothing against any of the third or fourth line players on the current Blues roster--I just think it's time to turn the page, and I think the Peoria players mentioned are hungry, primed and ready to step up and help the club move to the next level (and save some $$, too).

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05-21-2007, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Prussian_Blue View Post
-- Tomas Mojzis, who is currently an RFA, but who played pretty well in his "cup of coffee" stint with the Blues at season's end. I would expect to see him re-signed.

I think Mojzis is considering Europe at this point. I thought I read somewhere that he was looking at that after the season ended.


-- Zack FitzGerald, who has missed a lot of time due to injury and suspension (both due to over-aggressive play) in his first two pro seasons. He's still under contract for another year, and I expect to see him use that year in Peoria to establish himself as a future third-pairing NHL defenseman with size and toughness.

I dont think Fitzgerald will play in the NHL. I am not sold on him yet

-- Alexander Hellstrom, who is apparently signed, sealed, and delivered for Peoria next season. He's not an offensive dynamo by any means, but rather a steady, solid, stay-at-home defenseman with just a hint of a mean streak... in other words, the kind of defenseman that a successful team needs to have one or two of in order to be successful.
Dont forget Gauthier and potentially Nikitin.

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05-21-2007, 11:54 PM
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I think Wagner will be up with the Blues by the end of next season.

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05-22-2007, 08:10 AM
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Walzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prussian_Blue View Post
-- Tomas Mojzis, who is currently an RFA, but who played pretty well in his "cup of coffee" stint with the Blues at season's end. I would expect to see him re-signed.
Mojzis signed with Sibir Novosibirsk yesterday

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05-22-2007, 02:46 PM
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Prussian_Blue
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Mojzis signed with Sibir Novosibirsk yesterday
That doesn't necessarily preclude him for signing with the Blues if he gets a decent offer... seems to me like he's hedging his bets, which is a reasonable thing to do.

Peoria's not the garden spot of the world by any means, but I think I'd rather play there than in Siberia.

P_B


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05-22-2007, 04:16 PM
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fan in oregon
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what about the new goalie Hiller. another guy I wondering is Ryan Mc. Murtry.

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05-22-2007, 06:15 PM
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what about the new goalie Hiller. another guy I wondering is Ryan Mc. Murtry.
Hiller is currently unsigned. Several teams (including The Blues) are said to be interested in signing him. We haven't heard if he has been looking over any formal offers yet.

But, the rumours that The Blues are interested in signing him leads me to believe that they are not planning to offer Sanford a contract, and, possibly are planning to offer up Bacashiua in some trade package offers for a young top-6 forward.

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05-22-2007, 06:25 PM
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I am glad to read that Zack Fitzgerald is still a legit prospect.

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05-23-2007, 12:19 AM
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I am glad to read that Zack Fitzgerald is still a legit prospect.
I'm with you here, we need someone that hits to hurt. He is not progressing fast, but I hope the organ-I-zation keeps him around a while longer.

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05-23-2007, 12:17 PM
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What about Woywitka?

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05-23-2007, 12:38 PM
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barnburner
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What about Woywitka?
I think he either goes in a trade, or, makes this club alternating with
Walker as the 7th and 8th defenseman.

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05-23-2007, 01:09 PM
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Rush11
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I really hope Woywitka is in the top 6 next year. I like the idea of having at least one D-man with some serious wheels.

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05-23-2007, 01:14 PM
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I think he either goes in a trade, or, makes this club alternating with
Walker as the 7th and 8th defenseman.
I think I have seen enough out of Walker...I would like to see him shipped this summer, before his stock falls even more than it is.

(Not to say his stock was ever that great...but I don't see Matt on this team from here on out with Johnson, Polak, Woywitka, etc coming up).

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05-23-2007, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
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I am glad to read that Zack Fitzgerald is still a legit prospect.
agreed. as a bottom pairing d-man, he could be good. his mean streak really intrigues me.

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05-23-2007, 07:30 PM
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Brandur
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I really hope Woywitka is in the top 6 next year. I like the idea of having at least one D-man with some serious wheels.
I like Woywitka too, but I can't in good faith rank him above Polak--Woywitka just isn't as fundamentally sound, though I would have to agree that his offensive upside is undoubtedly greater. Even if one of Backman, Salvador or (God, I hope not) Jackman are moved in a package for a forward, and even if McKee isn't healthy enough to start the season, I don't see Woywitka having a top 6 spot on the Blues next year--which is tough for him. He's capable, but the Blues just have better options.

The other side of this analysis is this: the Blues do not have a legit power play quarterback in the system. EJ may eventually fill that need, but I think we'll all be terribly disappointed if the Blues rely on him to be the go-to guy on the blue line in his first season. Jackman, Backman or Brewer are able to play that role, but I don't think anyone thinks they can sustain a consistently high level of performance doing so. Without a bona fide PP quarterback, the Blues' struggles with the man advantage will likely continue--even if they add a couple stud forwards.

If this is true, the question becomes: will someone in the Blues' defensive corps step up and grow into that role in a timely manner? If not, is it feasible to add an defensive PP specialist? Who do you move? How much more $$ can you invest on the Blue line when your forwards are in such dire need of help? Will any fix, once the need becomes apparent, be too late to make a difference? It's a conundrum.

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05-23-2007, 09:05 PM
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I have serious questions about Glumac. After getting his foot in the door the year before by responding to the instructions that he had to play physical and battle, if he wanted to play in the nhl - he shows up for camp last year and pretty much mailed it in. Hopefully, he will come to camp full of fire, and open some eyes, but until he shows otherwise - he looks like a guy that just doesn't want it bad enough.

There's a lot to like about Whitfield. Lots of energy, good penalty killer, and has a bit more ability to finish than Ryan Johnson. Considering his outburst last year at the Blues organization, you have to think that he received some sort of assurance that he will get a legitimate shot to get some playing time in the nhl this year. Otherwise, his signing again makes no sense.

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05-24-2007, 11:41 AM
  #22
c-carp
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agreed. as a bottom pairing d-man, he could be good. his mean streak really intrigues me.
I know the emphasis on this has declined in the NHL these days but the kid on top of being a punishing type of hitter can really throw em as well. I have seen some of his fights.

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06-01-2007, 12:58 AM
  #23
Brandur
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I have serious questions about Glumac. After getting his foot in the door the year before by responding to the instructions that he had to play physical and battle, if he wanted to play in the nhl - he shows up for camp last year and pretty much mailed it in. Hopefully, he will come to camp full of fire, and open some eyes, but until he shows otherwise - he looks like a guy that just doesn't want it bad enough.

There's a lot to like about Whitfield. Lots of energy, good penalty killer, and has a bit more ability to finish than Ryan Johnson. Considering his outburst last year at the Blues organization, you have to think that he received some sort of assurance that he will get a legitimate shot to get some playing time in the nhl this year. Otherwise, his signing again makes no sense.
Didn't everyone mail it in under Kitchen? I think Glumac would be a night and day different player under Murray, and I think just a temporary promotion would reinvigorate his game and force the Blues to make some tough decisions. Both Glumac and Whitfield have something to prove, and I hope they get the chance to do so.

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06-01-2007, 05:21 AM
  #24
Prussian_Blue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandur
I like Woywitka too, but I can't in good faith rank him above Polak--Woywitka just isn't as fundamentally sound, though I would have to agree that his offensive upside is undoubtedly greater. Even if one of Backman, Salvador or (God, I hope not) Jackman are moved in a package for a forward, and even if McKee isn't healthy enough to start the season, I don't see Woywitka having a top 6 spot on the Blues next year--which is tough for him. He's capable, but the Blues just have better options.
Like who?

If the Blues trade, let's say, Backman...

...and McKee isn't healthy enough to start the year...

...here's your St. Louis Blueline:

Jackman
Brewer
Salvador
Johnson
Pola'k
Woywitka
Walker

Or are you telling me that you'd rather play glacier-footed Matt Walker than Jeff Woywitka in a top six role under those circumstances?

I love Matt Walker to death, but he just can't skate well enough at this point to be effective as a top six NHL defenseman. As a seventh defenseman, playing the odd game or as an injury replacement, he's adequate, but not as a full-time guy.

P_B


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06-01-2007, 07:25 AM
  #25
barnburner
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Like who?

If the Blues trade, let's say, Backman...

...and McKee isn't healthy enough to start the year...

...here's your St. Louis Blueline:

Jackman
Brewer
Salvador
Johnson
Pola'k
Woywitka
Walker

Or are you telling me that you'd rather play glacier-footed Matt Walker than Jeff Woywitka in a top six role under those circumstances?

I love Matt Walker to death, but he just can't skate well enough at this point to be effective as a top six NHL defenseman. As a seventh defenseman, playing the odd game or as an injury replacement, he's adequate, but not as a full-time guy.

P_B

That's pretty much my scenerio also. Assuming Wyowitka doesn't go in a trade, and assuming McKee plays, then I would expect Wyowitka and Walker to split time as the fill-in, depending on whether the need is speed, or toughness, on the backline against that opponent.

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