St. Louis Blues
45-28-9, 99 points, 3rd in the Central Division
Defeated Boston in the Stanley Cup Final
Additions: F Dakota Joshua (acquired from TOR), F Nick Lappin, F Evan Polei, F Michael Vecchione, F Nathan Walker, D Andreas Borgman (acquired from TOR), D Jake Dotchin, D Justin Faulk (acquired from CAR), D Derrick Pouliot
Subtractions: F Conner Bleackley (signed with Idaho, ECHL), F Dominik Bokk (traded to CAR), F Pat Maroon (signed with TBL), F Nikita Soshnikov (KHL), D Chris Butler (retired), D Michael Del Zotto (signed with ANA), D Joel Edmundson (re-signed, then traded to CAR), D Jani Hakanpaa (signed with ANA), D Jakub Jerabek (KHL), D Jordan Schmaltz (traded to TOR), D Tyler Wotherspoon (signed with PHI), G Jared Coreau (signed with NYI)
Still Unsigned: F Chris Thorburn
Re-signed: F Ivan Barbashev, F Sammy Blais, F Robby Fabbri, F Zach Sanford, F Oskar Sundqvist, D Carl Gunnarsson, G Jordan Binnington, G Ville Husso
Offseason Analysis: Winning the Stanley Cup cures everything. Nobody’s asking when and if the St. Louis Blues will ever a) make another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final or b) winning the Cup.
The Blues crossed off the top item from their bucket list and hoisted the Stanley Cup over their heads in Boston after winning Game 7 against the Bruins in June.
General Manager, Doug Armstrong, has been building and retooling the organization since assuming his current role in 2010. A finalist for the NHL General Manager of the Year Award last season, Armstrong landed a key piece of St. Louis’ Cup-winning roster (and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP) in Ryan O’Reilly last offseason in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
St. Louis won the Cup, so now Armstrong’s task of winning one is taken care of. He– along with the rest of the Blues– will have a bit of a grace period until fans are fed up again with whatever behooves them next.
Of course, the goal of winning the Cup for any GM ultimately isn’t to just win it once, but rather to win it as many times as possible in your career.
Armstrong took care of a delicate balance in re-signed a plethora of restricted free agent members of the Blues.
Rather than making Jordan Binnington the surefire franchise goaltender, Armstrong was able to negotiate a solid two-year bridge deal worth $4.400 million per season.
The 26-year-old goaltender took over St. Louis’ starting role at the dawn of the new year in January and– even though he set a National Hockey League rookie record for most wins in the postseason with 16– has yet to solidify his legitimacy as a starting goaltender in the NHL.
Binnington and 29-year-old, Jake Allen, each have two years on their respective contracts. This season, one will rise above the other as the starter (likely Binnington), but for the next couple of seasons each are competing for a long-term role with the organization.
Glue guys, Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais, Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Oskar Sundqvist and Carl Gunnarsson are all sticking around in St. Louis for the near future, with Sundqvist extended for the longest tenure on a new four-year deal worth $2.750 million per season.
The Blues can sit back for a season or two and see if Craig Berube and Co. can recreate the magic of their 52nd season in franchise history.
Whether or not this team has what it takes to formulate a dynasty remains to be seen, but Armstrong bolstered their chances after trading Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk and a 2021 7th round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for veteran defender, Justin Faulk, and a 2020 5th round pick on Sept. 24th.
Carolina retained 14% of Faulk’s salary ($676,667), which means he will carry a $4.157 million cap hit for the Blues this season.
Upon his acquisition, Armstrong locked up the defender to a seven-year extension with St. Louis worth $45.500 million ($6.500 million per season). Faulk’s extension goes into effect next season and carries a no-trade clause for the first five years, then a modified no-trade clause for the remainder.
A full no-trade clause was added by the Blues to the final year of his current deal.
If nothing else, this trade covers Armstrong’s back in case he is unable to sign Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo, to an extension.
The 29-year-old defender is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and likely to see a pay raise from his current $6.500 million cap hit (especially considering, 1) his role in St. Louis’ turnaround, 2) his Stanley Cup ring and 3) the fact that Faulk’s extension carries Pietrangelo’s current cap hit).
In short, Pietrangelo is better than Faulk and best while the two of them are on the same blue line.
Armstrong will also have to balance the books next season by deciding whether or not to re-sign Brayden Schenn, Fabbri, Blais, Dunn, Jay Bouwmeester and Mackenzie MacEachern.
For now, bars across St. Louis will keep playing “Gloria” even as the team on the ice must turn the page on last season and focus on what looms this season and beyond.
Offseason Grade: B-
Considering the number of RFAs Armstrong had to re-sign, the Blues GM managed to do a decent job tidying things up for the time being, but most of the extensions were short term, one or two year deals.
St. Louis has about $138,740 in cap space available, leaving them with little to no room for any major extensions for next season without having to unload some larger contracts from the books.
At the very least, the only major loss from last season’s Cup winning roster to this season was Pat Maroon, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning due to St. Louis’ cap constraints.