What can the Blues do?

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Defenseman Colton Parayko is an asset the Blues may consider trading in order to shake up the team.

So the Blues fired their coach, Mike Yeo. Assistant coach Craig   is now in charge. Time will tell if the change will bear positive results on the ice. It did when the Blues dismissed Ken Hitchcock and went to Mike Yeo (albeit early, as the plan was for Hitch to retire and Yeo to take over the following season). NHL teams usually see a burst when they make coaching changes.

But the early results are not that encouraging. The Blues have only played three games since the firing, but they are 1-2 in those games. Last night’s game was atrocious – an 8-4 spanking by the Jets. Now granted, the Jets are one of the best teams in the Western Conference, so winning that game was a tough ask (really though, winning ANY game is a tough ask for the Blues these days). Even so, the Blues can and should be better than that box score.

Let’s assume the worst case scenario: The Blues continue their basement-level record for the next couple of months. What can Doug Armstrong do to send an even bigger message than firing Mike Yeo?

The answer is making a trade. Or more than one.

In the past coupe of off-seasons, the Blues have shed Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny, and Jori Lehtera. Other names have departed also. So you would think with that much turnover, that the inconsistent play and at times atrocious breakdowns would have been weeded out. But that’s not the case. So we can question the names that are still here and presumably maintaining a culture that does not value effort, or discipline, or playing a full 60.

Maybe Doug Armstrong should trade one (or more) of those names.

Let’s get specific. The names I’m thinking of are:

Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester

Now I’m not suggesting that all of those players be traded, or even that they should be traded. Tarasenko is the face of the franchise, and he’s not been especially guilty of the aforementioned problems the Blues have. But this group is the core right now, and trading one or more of that group would send a strong message that no one is safe and this type of play is unacceptable.

Of course, whenever you want to trade someone, there must be a willing trading partner. Some of the contracts are simply not movable right now. But Doug Armstrong has shown he can be creative. While he may not be able to move a Bouwmeester, he might find a suitor for a Parayko or Steen, given the right deal parameters. Steen has 2 more years at $5.75 million per year. That is pricey given his production, so the Blues might have to offset that salary some way. Parayko has 3 more years at $5.5 million per.

I’m reminded of the surprise blockbuster trade the Blues with the Avalanche to acquire Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart. It cost them an at-the-time core player, Erik Johnson. I would love to see another deal like that.

This season is a culmination of a style of play that plagues the Blues for years now. It has to end. I and so many other fans just want to see the players held accountable, and trading them away is really the only way to do that. They need to understand that this is not acceptable. The fans deserve better. Our city deserves better.

 

 

 

Will Parayko Be Worth It?

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Last week, Colton Parayko signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract extension to remain with the St. Louis Blues. The signing meant he and the team avoided an arbitration hearing, and ensured he’d be a key part of the team’s blueline for years to come.

My tendency with any Blues contract signing has usually been a reaction like the following:

My expectations (and hopes) for each contract has been woefully under what they end up being. To  me, you should be able to get a 20-goal scorer for $3 mil/yr and a middle-pair defenseman for the same.

But earnings in the league continue to go up, as they always do, so in reality, Parayko’s contract may actually be a good value. I went back and looked at some of the most recent signings of defensemen.

Last summer, Seth Jones signed a 6-yr, $32.4 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jones scored 17 goals and 52 overall points in his first two seasons in the league. Like Parayko, he’s big at 6’4. He rewarded the Jackets with a career high in points (42) last season.

Torey Krug, a Boston Bruin, also signed a contract in the summer of ’16. His was 4 years with a total value of $21 million. He scored 44 points in the ’15-16 season, a career high, prior to signing the contract.

This summer, Dmitry Orlov signed a 6-yr deal worth over $30 million. He puts up good points, but he doesn’t have Parayko’s size.

Of the 3 I mentioned, Parayko is the biggest. His size adds to his worth, since it’s valued by clubs. And Parayko has shown smarts in using his size to full effect. He should score more goals as he continues to develop. Among Blues defensemen in the 2016-17 season, only Alex Pietrangelo put up more points (48), then Parayko (35).

As far as the AAV, $5.5 million seems like elite money. But the salary cap is now at $75 million, and $5.5 mil is far, far under the maximum salary a player can earn, which is $15 million. Mentally, I’m stuck in the time when Paul Kariya’s $7 million/yr was pretty close to the league maximum.

Also contributing to my preconceived notions is the Jay Bouwmeester contract, which at $5 million plus is a lot of dough for a guy who contributed only 15 points last season. In his prime, he regularly notched 40-plus.

So do I think Parayko will be worth it? Yes, I do. He and Pietrangelo will be a solid 1-2 for a long time, allowing the Blues to develop such youngsters as Jake Walman, Vince Dunn, and Jordan Schmaltz in the years to come.

Thanks for reading.