Tyler Bozak is a key addition to the 2018/19 Blues roster.
Wow. I am stunned and amazed. Never in a million years did I expect to see the kind of offseason the Blues are having. It almost surpasses my wildest dreams. Not since I woke up on July 2nd, several years ago, to see that the Blues had signed Paul Kariya, have I been so excited about the Blues.
In the span of 2 weeks, the Blues have transformed their forward corps into one of the elite groups of the West. And it kind of came out of nowhere.
We all heard GM Doug Armstrong reiterate that changes were needed, after the season and leading up to the draft. We hoped that Armstrong would use the club’s first-round pick as leverage to swing a trade for an impact forward, just as he did for Brayden Schenn a year ago.
That didn’t happen on draft night, and we afterward heard that the team had been in discussions on several things, but nothing had come to fruition. I think I speak for many fans in saying that we assumed that nothing big was going to happen, even though free agency hadn’t yet begun. We’d seen this show before. The Blues go into an offseason vowing improvements, only to walk away empty-handed, or with one second or third-tier player in free agency.
The team seemed headed in that direction yet again, when early on July 1st, news broke that the Blues had signed (again) winger David Perron. It was 2016 all over again.
But the day seemed salvaged when news also broke that Tyler Bozak had signed a three-year deal.
I was content at that point. The Blues had added a center and a winger and a backup goalie, their three needs. Mission accomplished.
But the centerpiece of the makeover was yet to come. I had checked off of Twitter for the most part on the night of July 1st, when I happened to bring up the app and see the most wonderful news.
Armstrong had completed his masterstroke. Ryan O’Reilly was a St. Louis Blue.
I devoured tweets and articles that whole night. I couldn’t believe it. In a day, the Blues had brought in three top-nine forwards and cleaned out the logjam by sending underachieving Patrik Berglund and Vlad Sobotka back to Buffalo in the O’Reilly trade.
O’Reilly, Schenn and Bozak give the Blues the best group of centers in the Central Division.
Armstrong wasn’t quite done. Pat Maroon signed a cheap one-year deal just two days ago.
This is so much better than the years in which other teams signed big ticket free agents, and the Blues, for their part, signed some 4th-liner no-name. The NHL is buzzing about the Blues’ aggressiveness. The fans are energized. The Blues players themselves are pumped. I can’t wait to go to games in October.