Posted: 6/16/2012 7:10:30 PM
Nice writeups Skubi. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. However, I have to take exception with the Blues needs.
They need size and muscle on defense and the wings since the game has reverted back to a big mans game where space is at a premium. They have two defensemen in Petro and Shatty that can move the puck, but they lack size and strength on the back end save for Polak. They were absolutely steamrolled by LA's size and aggression. The Blues also forecheck more aggressively than most give them credit for. They don't sit back in the neutral zone before they attack. They lack a playmaking center and a true finisher.
Since it is unlikely they will land a true first line talent type forward (their biggest need), they need to get bigger on the wing. Their top 6 wingers are Oshie, McDonald, Steen, Perron, Stewart, and presumably Tarasenko. Stewart is the only one in that group that has good size, but he refuses to use it on a consistent basis. Oshie and Steen won't get pushed around, but neither have enough size and strength to overcome large d-men in the corners or in front of the cage. Oshie can knock anybody on their behind, but he isn't big enough to stand in front of the net and gobble up the scoring opportunities. McDonald and Perron aren't physical at all and are both one hit to the melon of being done for good.
Tarasenko isn't very tall, but is supposedly very stout, hence his nickname (The Tank). D'Agostini is another smallish winger that would take Tarasenko's spot in the top 9 if the young Russian lad isn't ready.
I understand that David Backes is one of the best two way centers in the game, but IMO he should be put back on the wing for good. He style of play is more suited along the wall (think Dustin Brown). The guy is very strong, but has horrible passing skills so he should be the teams 1st line RW instead of top centerman. Andy McDonald won a Cup as the Ducks #1A center, but he plays the wing here in STL??? Coupled with his concussion history, it makes no sense to play him along the wall. Mac and Perron are the Blues two best playmaking forwards.
Having said all that, I expect GM Doug Armstrong to move at least one of his younger forwards (Oshie, Perron, Berglund, or Stewart?) for defensive help since it unlikely the Blues will be in the Ryan Suter sweepstakes at the very end even though he and Petro paired together would be heavenly. Schwartz and The Tank have top 6 forward ability so something has to give. The NHL is no different than any other sport (copycat), so expect some bigger trades this summer like LA pulled off last year. The only two Eliot Ness players on STL are Pietrangelo and Backes.
GM Armstrong has made this unusual bold statement. "We're going to be active (in free agency) & we are going to see how we can improve our team. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Keep in mind the Blues have a new owner, but his pockets aren't very deep so my enthusiasm is tempered.
The Blues will be under a lot of pressure for a lot of different reasons in 12-13 and will probably be the favorites to win the Central even if Detroit lands Suter and another impact player. They have the assets to trade if they are willing to make the gamble on a culture change......
I don't have the time or energy to go thru your other opinions, but thanks again for sharing them.