The first wave of free agent frenzy has ended and the St. Louis Blues are a much different team than the one we saw in 2016-17.
David Perron is a Vegas Golden Knight. Jori Lehtera is a Philadelphia Flyer. Ryan Reaves is now a Pittsburgh Penguin. These things we knew heading into the start of free agency. But how did Blues general manager Doug Armstrong address the holes left by these departures?
As the free agent frenzy began Saturday, Armstrong wasted no time trying to fill the “enforcer” role of Ryan Reaves. Army inked longtime Winnipeg Jet tough guy Chris Thorburn to a 2 year deal with a $900,000 average annual value (AAV). The club has said the 34 year old right wing will not play every game like Reaves did, as he will be plugged into the lineup for specific matchups.
The Blues also agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent right wing Beau Bennett and restricted free agent forward Oskar Sundqvist to identical 1 year, $650,000 deals. The 23 year old Sundqvist was acquired in the Ryan Reaves deal from Pittsburgh, and the Swede figures to compete for a bottom six forward role, along with the 25 year old Bennett.
The 2017-18 training camp cannot come soon enough, as there looks to be more competition among the forward group than we have seen in recent years. The top six appears to be set, and barring any future moves should feature Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, Paul Stastny, Robby Fabbri, and Alexander Steen. The bottom six should be something to keep an eye on however, as Vladimir Sobotka, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Magnus Paajarvi, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, Thorburn, Sundqvist, and Bennett will all be competing for spots in the lineup. Also don’t sleep on prospects Tage Thompson and Klim Kostin, who both have outside shots at making the club out of training camp.
According to capfriendly.com, a trusted source for all things NHL contract related, the Blues currently have $8.5 million in cap space with restricted free agents Colton Parayko, and prospects Petteri Lindbohm and Jordan Binnington left to sign.