Free Agency Surprise

The St. Louis Blues have been much more active in Free Agency than most expected.

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Defenseman Torey Krug is the headliner of the Blues’ acquisitions this fall.

It’s been a stunning weekend for the Blues and their fans. In the space of just over 48 hours, Alex Pietrangelo is presumably out the door for good, and two new players have signed – Torey Krug and Kyle Clifford.

I think most of us fans expected very little in the way of acquisitions this offseason. We assumed that Pietrangelo would be re-signed at great cost, and then maybe a name or two would be shipped out to make cap room for that contract. This expectation was reinforced by the Jake Allen trade last month.

The Blues didn’t need to make any big splashes, even if Pietrangelo left. The defense would still have Parayko, Dunn, Faulk, Scandella, Bortuzzo, Perunovich and others. Many assumed that if Petro were to move on, the Blues would use the cap savings to target a scoring forward.

Instead, Torey Krug and Kyle Clifford have joined the club, and a handful of players have been signed for AHL depth. Krug was the big surprise, of course, as the signing came late Friday evening. I had thought the Blues would wait to hear Pietrangelo’s decision. But no, Armstrong isn’t a late bird. He got a big worm in the form of Torey Krug, ferocious, effective defenseman that all Blues fans hated in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.

While Krug isn’t the steady, all-around top-pairing D-man that Pietrangelo is, he’s a very capable point producer who plays with an edge. His specialty is the power play, with which the Blues always seem to need help. Krug was the 2nd best defenseman available in this year’s free agent crop. The 3rd best, TJ Brodie, signed earlier Friday with the Maple Leafs (a move which likely precluded a Pietrangelo addition for them).

Kyle Clifford also signed with the team, a 2-year deal worth $2 million. Clifford is a bottom 6 winger, and a very, very tough player with Stanley Cup rings to his name. He will play on the 4th line and bring grit and stability.

Clifford’s addition means there will be more chances for Kyrou and Kostin to play up in the lineup. This is probably a make-or-break year for Kyrou. The Blues need him to step up and be a regular offensive contributor, especially since they won’t have Tarasenko for a chunk of games, most likely.

So now the Blues team is taking shape for the 2020-2021 season. Let’s look at some lines & pairings below.

LWCRW
SchwartzO’ReillyPerron
SchennThomasBlais
SanfordBozakKyrou
CliffordBarbashevSundqvist
LDRD
KrugParayko
DunnFaulk
ScandellaBortuzzo

I do wish there was a more established winger on the second line (Tyler Toffoli anyone?), but Blais and Sanford are coming along nicely as scorers, and the team hopes Thomas will start putting in more goals to go with all his assists.

This has been a fun free agency period.

Low Hanging Cap Room

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Ville Husso looks set to be the No 2 netminder next year.

By now you’ve heard that the Blues made some much-needed cap room by trading goalie Jake Allen to Les Habitants for a pair of draft picks in this year’s NHL draft.

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Your 2019-2020 Points Leaders

Officially, the NHL’s 2019-2020 season is 71 games. Nobody foresaw that it would be shortened due to a worldwide pandemic. But here we are: the playoffs will start soon, and we have the first shortened season since the lockout-shortened one of 2013.

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Zach Sanford provided surprising but welcome secondary scoring in the shortened 2019-2020 season.

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