BREAKING NEWS: Blues Acquire Yakupov


By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues Writer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

The St. Louis Blues have come out of nowhere and dealt again with Edmonton Oilers. This time, former first overall draft choice Nail Yakupov. And what for? AHL player Zach Pochiro and a conditional 2017 3rd round draft pick. The condition being if Nail scores just 15 goals this season, the 3rd round draft choice becomes a 2018 2nd round pick. 15 goals might not seem that much, but Nail has only reached over 15 once in his career which came in his rookie season from 2012-13.

Yakupov will join a cast of young Blues stars as they transition from David Backes and Troy Brouwer to the likes of Robby Fabbri, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. St. Louis should hope for plenty of talent and structure to help bring the best in this low risk, high reward trade.
Yakupov has played 252 NHL career games where he has posted 50 goals and 111 total points.
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Will Rieder be Traded?


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes winger Tobias Rieder has made quite the name for himself in Arizona. Since being traded from Edmonton in 2013 for Kale Kessy, Rieder has notched 58 points over 154 games in both of his NHL seasons, for the Coyotes. At just the beginning of his career, Rieder is off to a great start garnering attention from around the league with his speed, skill and defensive play, along with his most recent appearance with the underdog finalists Team Europe in the resurrected World Cup of Hockey. More recently, however, the press has been surrounding the current contract talks between his camp and the Arizona Coyotes.

 

Rieder remains an RFA after his most recent three-year, $925k deal expired last season. His play as of last year demands a pay raise, there is no doubt, and both sides prepared for negotiations heading into the off-season. But that’s exactly where things hit a standstill, negotiations. Reports indicate the most recent attempt at a deal met with Chayka and the Coyotes offering $2.2 million per year while Rieder’s camp requested closer to $2.5-$2.7 million per year. The pay isn’t far off, but the term in mind for both sides is whats vastly different. While GM Chayka suggested a lower-price qualifying offer as well to compliment his longer term one, presumably to get Rieder back at the negotiating table for one year and to see if his play keeps improving, Rieder and his agent Darren Ferris are not impressed. “It would be best for both parties if they just traded him.” stated Ferris in an email to Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com.

 

What is causing a rift here, is term. Arizona wants to ultimately lock Tobi in long-term at a team-friendly price, and Rieder wants the ability to earn his raise sooner than later. Such is the plight of an RFA who’s potential is unforeseen by many. Shooting up from the same round (4th) of the same draft (2011) as the player traded for him, Rieder has risen from AHL probable to NHL regular. He has certainly made a case for himself with his 16-point increase to last season from the one prior, but with the way negotiations are looking, it might be too little too late to wet the lips of the Coyotes. With cheap, highly touted prospects on entry-level contracts itching to break onto the NHL roster, Rieder has less leverage than he would have two or three years ago.

 

Trade rumours have started to swirl, speculations have begun, names and propositions are being posted, tweeted and blogged. None of this means Rieder and the Coyotes being a doomed relationship is for certain, but with KHL deals offered to him, trades possibly being drafted up by other teams, and time till the season’s start wearing thin, Tobias Rieder has a lot of decisions to make and not a lot of time to make them.

Trouba Requests Trade From Jets


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By Sie Nicole

Staff Writer

 

Jacob Trouba has requested a trade from the Winnipeg Jets and will not be attending their training camp this week. Trouba is currently a restricted free agent. The 22 year old former first round pick has been in negotiations since May to depart from the Jets, as revealed in a statement from his agent.

 

The statement also states that Trouba isn’t seeking a larger paycheck, but rather, a larger on-ice role.

 

There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

 

To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

 

Trouba is coming off a rough year with the Jets. Being partnered with Mark Stuart found him as a bottom D-pair and his play suffered. Trouba consistently performed better with any other pairing, notably performing well with Dustin Byfuglien, but still found himself partnered with the aging Stuart. He also spent this month as the seventh defenseman for the World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America, playing two games after Aaron Ekblad was injured.

 

As a young right handed defenseman, he’s a hot commodity and should have no problem finding ample opportunity for a larger role elsewhere. As such, the price for Trouba will be hefty. The Jets are likely going to being looking for a left side defenseman in exchange, and that’s just the starting price.

 

No stranger to trade rumors, Trouba was reportedly being shopped at the trade deadline, with teams including Detroit and Boston expressing interest. Being a former Wolverine and Rochester native makes him very appealing to Detroit, a team with five Michiganders currently on their roster and issues with their blueline. The Bruins are fairly desperate for elite defenseman and that puts all of the leverage in Winnipeg’s hand. A too-high asking price may have prevented a move between the two last season.

 

Other teams in the mix could be Edmonton, whose defense is notably weak, resulting in the trade that moved winger Taylor Hall to New Jersey in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. Anaheim could also see some cap relief in trading for Trouba, moving a veteran contract in the process.
Trouba tallied 23 goals and 49 assists in 211 games with Winnipeg.

Who will the Blues Lose in the Expansion Draft?


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By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues Writer

Dallas Stars Writer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

 

Over sixteen years have passed since the last time the NHL grew in its numbers. Sixteen years ago brought on the birth of the forest green, Minnesota Wild, and cannon-booming, Columbus Blue Jackets, to the NHL. The 2016-17 NHL season will be the last season played under that 30 team format and will lay the groundwork for the 31st team in Las Vegas. With this, an NHL Expansion Draft. Which oddly enough now feels like a version of The Hunger Games, NHL style. You’re welcome for that bit of marketing help, Bettman. Each team will have one player leave their roster in order to help stock up the new Las Vegas team, and will have the maximum of up to 11 players they can protect. The protection list that I have gone through was made with the scenario that management must choose their protected players as of today and the Las Vegas team would be set to start this upcoming season. Keep in mind that with the contracts expiring from Alex Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk in the upcoming offseason, it is likely that the two players can be adjusted on this list accordingly throughout the season. Should anything happen (or not) two others such as Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin can gain security. General Manager, Doug Armstrong has a nice situation with the fact that not one single player on his roster must be protected via a no-movement clause. Every single one of his choices will be just that, his choice. With that in mind, here are the choices, again as of today, that I would protect.

 

· Notable exempt:
o Jordan Schmaltz
o Robby Fabbri
o Colton Parayko
o Ville Husso
o Jordan Kyrou
o Ivan Barbashev
o Vince Dunn

 

7 Forwards – 3 Defense – 1 Goalie Option
· Tarasenko
· Stastny
· Steen
· Schwartz
· Lehtera
· Perron
· Berglund
· Pietrangelo
· Shattenkirk
· Edmundson
· Allen

 

The protection of the core forwards is a must. With Fabbri already being protected up front, and Parayko with the defensive group, options have opened up to protect players such as Edmundson, Lehtera, and Berglund. The likes of Tarasenko, Stastny, and Schwartz from this list will be together for at least the next few seasons, pending a surprising trade. With Backes gone, the ice-time will likely open up for Stastny to prove he can (and will need to) be an NHL number 1 Center again. Patrick Berglund has been rumored to be on the trade block for the last few seasons and after Lehtera’s regression last season, he will need to be at his best, should he not want to have his name on the trading block as well. With opting for the 8-3-1, Armstrong can ensure that his valuable players are not  lost for nothing.

 

8 Skaters – 1 Goalie Option
· Tarasenko
· Stastny
· Steen
· Schwartz
· Perron
· Berglund
· Pietrangelo
· Shattenkirk
· Allen

 

If Blues management would go this route, this would only put them to 9/11 possible protected. Doug Armstrong has options to go with and right now, but going with the 8 Skaters and 1 Goalie option (as of today) would be foolish to not protect some of his younger / depth assets.

 

Why not Bouw?

 

The Blues have been handcuffed due to Jay Bouwmeester’s contract and could use a relief. The 32 year old is currently owed $5.6 million in the 2016-17 season, and $5.4 million throughout the remaining 2 years of his contract. Bouwmeester has certainly seen his production fall of as he has only managed 27 points over the last 144 games he has played in St. Louis. Jay’s production has seen a slow decline over the last few years, until his first season in St. Louis where he saw a spike from 22 points that were split between the Blues and Calgary Flames, to 37. This could be a win-win scenario for the Blues to gain the cap space, and Las Vegas to gain a reliable, veteran defenseman that will also help them get to the salary cap floor. Though, Armstrong may not want to lose Jay for nothing, if there were a buyer at a fair price for the veteran defenseman, the trade would likely have been made already. If the Blues manage to rid of Bouwmeester, the options and cap space to keep Shattenkirk get a lot more interesting.

 

The upcoming 2016-17 season is a bit more important with not only the battles for spots in the nightly lineup, but the Expansion Draft looming over as well. Players who hope to continue or even start their careers in St. Louis but have a bit more to prove. The likes of Jori Lehtera, Dmitrij Jaskin, Patrick Berglund, Ty Rattie, and even Connor Bleackley could all be subject to availability in the upcoming expansion draft and very well could be headed to Las Vegas.

Coyotes Acquire Lawson Crouse


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

Coyotes GM John Chayka was back at it again this morning, making Arizona hockey a year-round spectacle. The Arizona Coyotes have traded their 3rd round pick in 2017 and a conditional 2nd in 2018 for Panthers prospect Lawson Crouse and veteran Dave Bolland.

 

Arizona possesses their own and Detroit’s 3rd rounder, the higher of the two by season’s end will be the one sent to Florida. The 2nd round pick in the deal becomes a 3rd in 2018 if Crouse does not play 10 games for Arizona in the 2016-17 season.

Lawson Crouse was the 11th overall pick in 2015 for the Panthers. Hoping to join his former gold-medal winning World Junior Championship teammates Max Domi and Anthony Duclair in Arizona next season, Crouse logged 23 goals and 62 points in 49 games for the Kingston Frontiacs of the OHL last year. A big, strong left winger, Crouse is more known for his size and puck protection than offense, but no slouch at scoring points either.

30-year-old center Dave Bolland is a veteran center, playing for Chicago, Toronto, and Florida in his nine years in the NHL. With a $5.5 million contract he inked after winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks still valid for 3 more years, and nowhere near as productive as he once was, the addition of Bolland seemed to be more of a cap subtraction for Florida. Although not worth the price tag, Bolland can still be a serviceable depth centerman for the Coyotes, bringing some extra experience to a ever-growing youth movement in the locker room. Bolland scored 5 points in his 25 games in Florida, also playing 2 games for their AHL affiliate Portland.

Blues Offseason Recap


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By Mike Meyer

St. Louis Blues Writer

Dallas Stars Writer

Edmonton Oilers Writer

Off-season Recaps. For some fan bases, this involves a look back on what great moves were made at the trade deadline and during the off-season, and a chance to say, “we’re gonna repeat and win again!”. For others, a chance to fully realize a loss and just how close they had gotten and to come away with nothing. No shiny objects, no parade down Market, no Captain. A loss of players, fan favorites, personnel, and a time to hold on to what bit of hope they might have left. Hope that a step back will not have to be taken when you had finally come so close.

Subtractions: (Captain) David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Brian Elliott, (AHC) Brad Shaw, (AHC) Kirk Muller

Additions: David Perron, Carter Hutton, Vladimir Sobotka , Ville Husso, Jordan Kyrou, (AHC / HC) Mike Yeo
Resigns / Extensions: Jaden Schwartz, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Scottie Upshall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jake Allen, Pheonix Copley, Ty Rattie, Chris Butler, Luke Opilka, Brad Hunt, Jordan Binnington, Danny Kristo, Jordan Caron

Blues fans, this can certainly be a proving season. A “coming of age” tale for some, or a straw that broke the camel’s back that can ultimately cause the Blues to take misstep in their quest for the Cup. The losses of David Backes and Troy Brouwer could prove to be monumental down the stretch in the regular season and in the playoffs. Let’s face it, their tenacity and “grind it out” style of play is something that Blues fans have grown accustomed to watching over the last few years. But it’s also a style that some fan bases are craving for on a regular basis. Though the style of play is still loved and admired by many, Blues fans also had to endure the amount of penalty minutes and controversy that this particular style of play would inevitably cause. Combined this past season, the two big-bodied power forwards, Backes and Brouwer, managed to rack up 145 penalty minutes, which in turn, would rank them first and fourth on the team, respectively. 145 total minutes that the Captain of the Blues and newcomer Troy Brouwer would be unable to help kill off. 145 minutes of fans sitting on edge while a one goal deficit could have grown to two, a tie could have been broken, or a one goal lead could have been tied and forced Overtime. And this only due to two of St. Louis’ key players.

St. Louis had a lot to be proud of this year. They reached the Western Conference Championship for the first time in 15 years. Second Place in the Central Division and Western Conference, despite the injuries at times to key players such as Steen, Schwartz, Allen and Elliott. The club finally earned and announced that a Winter Classic will be held at Busch Stadium on New Year’s Day against the Chicago Blackhawks. They made NHL history as the 11th team to post a four game shutout streak and only the fourth to do so since 1967. The team’s defense shined on as it ranked 4th in the NHL with only 201 Goals Against this past season and the team ranked 15th overall with 224 Total Goals Scored. Special Teams were able to do their job and stayed above the NHL average. St. Louis scored 51 total Power Play goals out of a possible 237 opportunities. The NHL average was 48 PP Goals and 255 Opportunities. The Blues this past season allowed only 41 total Power Play Goals Against out of a possible 276 Opportunities Against, while the rest of the League averaged 48 PP Goals Allowed and 255 Opportunities Against. Doing the math, the Blues managed a 21.52% Power Play conversion rate beating out an 18.56% League Average and achieved an 85.14% Penalty Kill throughout the season, while the rest of the League looked on at an average of 81.34%. St. Louis, you have a lot to be proud of from this team. Though they did not manage that parade down Market, a lot was accomplished from this squad. Hold your heads high.

With already having gone into depth of what Jake Allen taking over as the full-time starting goaltender in a previous article, let’s look at what the loss of impact players such as Brouwer and Backes could mean for this Blues team going forward and what will need replaced.

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Troy Brouwer

This one was a little bit tougher for me to understand after seeing what he signed for in Calgary. Troy Brouwer will be joining Brian Elliott as two of the newest members of the Calgary Flames for the 2016-17 season, after signing a  four-year, $18 million contract. This breaks down to $4.5 million per season, and includes a full No Trade Clause for the first two seasons, and a Modified No Trade Clause for the final two seasons of his contract, of which he can choose up to 15 teams that he cannot be traded to.

Troy was hoped by many in St. Louis to be a threat to the opposition for at least the next several years to come after being traded from the Washington Capitals in a deal that sent T.J. Oshie the other way. After seeing his determination, frustration, and desire to have the puck in the back of the net throughout the playoffs, Brouwer was hoped by many to stay. This was something that fans in St. Louis were not used to seeing from Oshie, as he typically faded during the postseason. He helped inspire others on his team to keep the level of play up and to keep battling. A true playoff leader to this squad.

Throughout the regular season, Troy was not the most offensive of players in the lineup. He managed to register 39 points in 82 games played. Though he has never been the most offensively minded player, Brouwer came within one point of tying his highest single season points total from the 2009-10 season with the Chicago Blackhawks. It would not be until the playoffs that Brouwer really stole St. Louis’ heart where he put up 13 points in 20 games and showed the tenacity of a player who wanted to do whatever it took to win. Though this was all to St. Louis’ favor, the statistic that alarmed and cautioned me about Troy’s future with the Blues, was the fact that Brouwer has now only managed 32 points in 98 career playoff games with Chicago, Washington, and St. Louis combined. Players have certainly had a history of cashing in on their playoff performances in previous seasons to boost their contract values for sure, so how much is he worth at this point. The statistic shows that 40.6% of his playoff points have come from his single postseason as a St. Louis Blue. Again, all of this now was to St. Louis’ favor, but was this just an anomaly or could this be counted on again next season? Was he truly in a better situation in St. Louis to put up more points in the postseason, or was it just a lucky year? The Calgary Flames have to hope for their sake that the performances from the two former Blues can be repeated with their young squad and to help carry them deep in to the playoffs. Without Brouwer to help lead the team this upcoming season, the Blues have learned and experienced what it takes to reach the Conference Championship. Who will be the player to step in to that role that Brouwer paved and put the team on their shoulders when the call comes?

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David Backes
The Captain. Drafted by the St. Louis Blues 62nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Started his professional career with the Blues AHL affiliate club, the Peoria Rivermen in 2005. He played his first game NHL game on December 19th, 2006 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Scored his first NHL goal against the LA Kings two days later. Backes has been given the opportunity to lead the Blues as Captain since September 2011, represent the Blues in the NHL All-Star Game in 2011, represent the United States on three separate occasions in the World Championships and on two occasions in the Olympics. The 32-year-old has gone on to play 727 NHL career games for the St. Louis Blues, while racking up 969 total penalty minutes. Ten seasons with the Blues, five as their Captain, Backes it all. As his career goes on now in Boston, you can only add more to the legend that is: David Backes.

Boston, however, must be cautious when deploying Mr. Backes. David played a majority of his ice time this season between the second and third lines for the Blues, and registered his lowest shooting percentage (12.5%) in the last three seasons. The contract that the Bruins have for David going forward is front loaded and can in turn be able to help them out, if in the event that they would need to trade him. With the final two-year of his contract only showing a price tag of $4 million, a player like David Backes could be worth the price should they decide to ship him out of Boston. Playing on a hypothetical line that has been drawn up with the likes of Bergeron and Marchand could very well help Backes to reach over 50 points again this upcoming season, and very well challenge him for 60. Falling even down to a 2nd line role with Spooner and Krejci, Backes could very well make fans excited in Bean Town as Backes could very well be the new Lucic.

It’s time to look forward to the future St. Louis. Time to see what the new leaders of St. Louis can bring to this team, and who potentially is running out of room and time to make an impact. There are several players this upcoming season that will have a lot determined from their play. Let’s dive in and take a look at a few notable players that will be watched closely in the 2016-17 season in St. Louis.

Jori Lehtera

The Finnish, 6’2” Center was drafted in 2008 by the Blues, 65th overall. After being drafted, he played only 7 games for the Peoria Rivermen, recorded one assist before he decided to return to the SM-Liiga (Finnish Elite League) playing for Tappara. From the 2008-2009 to the end of the following season, Lehtera would play 115 games for Tappara registering 28 goals and 88 assists. The 69 points in 57 games during the 2009-10 season would ultimately net him the title of MVP. After playing from 2010-2014 in the KHL, Lehtera signed a two year contract with St. Louis and decided to come Stateside. After his first season with the Blues posting 44 points in 75 games, he experienced a regression during his second season, posting only 34 points in 79 games. While chemistry with Tarasenko is essential and certainly helps his case, his ice time will perhaps be limited based off his production alone this upcoming season. Look for Hitchcock and new Head Coach In Waiting, Mike Yeo to try out combinations for that first line to play with Tarasenko and either Steen or Jaden Schwartz. If Lehtera can prove himself to be deserving of the minutes, a few more highlight real passes from Lehtera to Tarasenko just might be in store.

Inline image 4

David Perron

The former Blue, Oiler, Penguin, Duck, and Blue once more, has officially returned. Drafted in 2007 by the St. Louis Blues, the 28 year old Perron hopes to take what he has learned from his experiences with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Getzlaf and help out his former club once more. The 26th overall draft pick, Perron, has found patches of greatness in the last several years. Before his injury on, , David managed 42 points in 57 games. He was well on pace to top his career best 50 points in 81 games that came from his second season with the Blues. He would not return until , when he would play 48 games to finish out the season, managing only 25 points. Looking timid, and a somewhat ghost of his old self, Perron was traded to the Edmonton Oilers. Perron spent two seasons with the Oilers. His first season, flashing again signs of what made him a first round draft pick by recording 57 points in 78 games, but recording an uncharacteristic 90 penalty minutes. Before this season, Perron’s highest penalty minute in a single season was marked at 60. He was caught too often taking bad penalty’s in the offensive zone and not playing defense when his team needed him. With a few changes in the offseason, and a mental plan to change and develop his game, David could keep projecting in Edmonton and help the Oilers turn their team around. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Registering only 19 points in 38 games, Perron would be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He would only suit up for 86 games over the course of the 2014-15 to 2015-16 season, while scoring only 16 goals and 38 points. He was traded once more, to the Anaheim Ducks. It was here in Anaheim that David was given every chance to succeed; and he did.  David Perron went on to score 8 goals and 12 assists throughout his 28 games with the Ducks. He was a player to be reckoned with once more. Now, he has a chance to bring what he has learned from the best around the NHL, back to St. Louis. He has a second chance with the Blues organization to prove he is deserving of the opportunity. A chance to play now with a slew of players from veteran and former teammate, Alexander Steen, to up and coming star Robby Fabbri. Perron has a capability to be a 50+ point player this upcoming season. His fate with the Blues, however, that is up to him.

Robby Fabbri

20 years old, 5’10” and 180lbs. Certainly doesn’t seem like that impressive of a stature for a hockey player. Tell that to Robby Fabbri though. Drafted 21st overall in 2014, Fabbri got his first crack at the NHL this season. Averaginng 13:19 Time On Ice per game, posting 18 goals and 37 points, Fabbri certainly flashed signs of brilliance that has Blues fans giddy. It wasn’t until the post season that Fabbri would really take off. Fabbri was given more trust in the playoffs while he was able to prove through his performance. Averaging 14:22 through 20 games, Fabbri was able to take off 15 points in 20 games. This upcomming season will certainly have a lot more focus on Fabbri from the opposition. Certainly with the subtraction of Backes and the addition of Perron, it will certainly be interesting on how Hitchcock and Yeo deploy Fabbri. As the playoffs reflected the increase of his point production, Fabbri will certainly have a lot of supporters and be a cornerstone to build off of for the Blues to come for some time.

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Colton Paryako

Another impressive rookie campaign from a Blues player. The towering 6’6″ Parayko, tied for 10th overall on the team with 33 points and lead the team with an impressive +28 overall rating. As his career continues to flourish, his shot will look to continue to develop. A shot that has many comparing him to Shea Weber and even Fulton Reed (Mighty Ducks reference there for you) is a shot that many in St. Louis are excited to have on their side. In the playoffs, Parayko was a player that would be counted on as the one of the defensemen to help lead the Blues through the postseason and at times partnered up with Alex Pietrangelo. A second year NHL player, Colton Parayko is the player that could push General Manager, Doug Armstrong, to trade away Kevin Shattenkirk as Parayko can emerge in to a Top 4 role for the Blues.

Ty Rattie

Looked at to challenge for a spot on the NHL roster this upcoming season, Rattie was signed to a 1 year contract in a way that speaks as a “show me what’cha got” season ahead. Rattie spent a majority of his time this past season at the AHL level playing with the Chicago Wolves. In 62 games, Rattie managed 17 goals and 46 points. During his time with the Blues, Rattie was able to more than double his NHL points total. In the two prior season, Rattie played 13 games and totalled 2 assists. In the 13 games that Rattie played this season, averaging only 9:17 TOI, he managed 16 shots, 4 goals and 2 assists. He will certainly have his work cut out for him as he will likley battle a mixture of Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin for playing time.

Dmitrij Jaskin

Drafted 41st overall in 2011, Jaskin was hoped to take a higher role last year and push for a higher role on the Blues. He unfortunately saw a 5 point reduction while playing 11 more games. Playing in 65 games for the Blues and averaging 11:52 TOI, Jaskin was not able to match his 108 shots total from his 2014-15, coming in at 92. For the 2016-17 season, Jaskin will also look to improve on his 4.3% shooting percentage next season. As much as this upcoming season is his to prove what he can really do, Rattie will likely push for playing time. Jaskin once scored 99 points in 51 games during the  2012-13 season in the QMJHL. The Blues will hope that Jaskin is able to find his scoring touch at the NHL level. He too could be another player with a short leash and potentially on thin ice this season.

The St. Louis Blues have a lot to be excited for this upcoming season. The new contract for Jaden Schwartz helps solidify their faith in his role with the team and his leadership. Jake Allen taking over as the starting goaltender can help push him mentally as he trains this offseason knowing he is the guy. The likes of sophomores Robby Fabbri and Colton Parayko will likely push for more and more ice time as the season goes on and their careers flourish. The battle that will happen all season long potentially between Magnus Paajarvi, Ty Rattie, and Dmitrij Jaskin. Jori Lehtera and Paul Stastny battling for the 1C spot to center the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen and/or Jaden Schwartz. The return of Vladimir Sobotka from the KHL to prove that he is more than just a 4C and can push for potentially even a spot as high as the second line. A lot of questions and combinations can and will come from this forward group of Blues. The question becomes, will the new “Young Guns” be able to produce and take that next step to lead their Blues to victory.

Kyle Turris on the Coyotes – What Could’ve Been


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By Tim Waugh

Arizona Coyotes Writer

 

December 17th 2011 is a date most Coyotes fans would rather forget. In the midst of budget issues, relocation rumours, and a season which produced what was the most electrifying playoff run in Coyotes franchise history, a trade was made. The effects of which would not be felt for long after, as at the time we thought we were trading damaged goods for damaged goods. Two prospects who had yet to find their way but had amazing potential, along with a draft pick going to the desert.

 

I am of course talking about the Kyle Turris trade.

 

* shudders *

 

Turris was exactly what we needed: a dynamic scoring centerman with star potential, and that’s precisely why we took him 3rd overall in 2007. “Gretzky Era” hockey in the desert is rarely associated with good ideas, but Turris was poised to be our 1C for years to come. So if you’re reading all of this without any previous knowledge to the trade you’re probably wondering… what happened?

 

Here is a quick refresher on what happened 5 years ago:

  • Turris became a free agent July 1, 2011, failed to negotiate a new contract.
  • Speculations of him demanding a trade swirled after him remaining unsigned through training camp.
  • In October of 2011, Turris’ agent Kurt Overhardt confirmed his trade request, saying it was “never about the money”.
  • Turris wasn’t happy about not getting top-line minutes right away, didn’t see eye-to-eye with Coach Dave Tippett.
  • Turris signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract on November 22nd 2011.

 

Personal feelings aside on the demand for a trade * cough* (I hope you burn in hell with Blake Wheeler) *cough*, this article is a focus on something people often ask me as their resident Coyotes fan friend: “What woulda happened if you guys didn’t trade Kyle Turris?” So here it is.

 

Around 3 weeks after he signed the two-year deal, Kyle Turris is sent to Ottawa for underachieving defenseman David Rundblad and a 2nd round pick. At the time, I was elated with the trade. My love for Turris turned to disdain shortly after news of the trade request, and a fresh start with a budding D prospect had me in high spirits. Sadly it didn’t take long for me to see that Rundblad would never match the hype he received from fans and analysts alike. Remember when everyone (myself included) thought him and Brandon Gormley were going to be elite defensemen?

 

If then-General Manager Don Maloney promised him the spot in the line-up he so desperately wanted and convinced Turris to sign a long-term deal to remain on the team, fan-favourite veteran (and recent buyout victim) Antoine Vermette would probably never have worn the sedona red. The Coyotes sent the 2nd rounder from Ottawa to Columbus along with goalie Curtis McElhinney (who would have been pretty sweet if we kept him, I feel) and a conditional 3rd in 2013 (which eventually ended up in LA, used to draft Justin Auger) in a deal for Vermette. Nobody expected the 29-year-old French-Canadian to make the impact he did in the desert, playing 291 games and racking up 149 points over his five years in Arizona. Known for his bursts of speed, play-making prowess and league-leading face-off ability, Antoine was more than effective for a team struggling to attract more talented players. Having Vermette playing up and down the depth chart however may have also effected our drafting over the last half decade. If we had a solid future top center like Turris locked in long term, would we be picking players like power-forward center Henrik Samulesson at 27th overall a year later? Or would we have our hands on a winger like Tanner Pearson who was taken by the Kings three picks later? Or perhaps now Devils defenseman Damon Severson who went 60th?

 

Naturally, there would be some other teams effected by the reversal of this deal outside of the initial trade partners. That 2nd round pick included in the trade was passed around multiple times before it was used. Ottawa sent it to Phoenix, who then dealt it to Columbus, where then it found its final home in Philadelphia in a deal that sent now All-Star, IIHF gold medal, and Vezina winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to the Blue Jackets for a trio of picks, the 2nd round pick being the centrepiece. The Flyers selected a great goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz with that 45th overall pick, and with also swapping Michael Leighton for Steve Mason, the winner of this deal still remains debated by some fans. Makes you wonder though how deep the ripple-effect of reversing this trade actually went around the league… *stares out of window into space longingly*.

 

There is a very key part of our current rebuild we would be missing had we not dealt Turris, and this is the part that makes the deal so satisfying in the end. Highly touted as our second best center in the prospect pool, and one of the best prospects in the league right now, everyone is awaiting this kid’s arrival to the NHL. It’s crazy to think in retrospect, but this player’s first NHL games might have been in a Blackhawks jersey. The 2014 2nd round pick we swapped for Rundblad with Chicago turned out to be Frankfort, IL native Christian Dvorak. A Bronze medallist for team USA in the World Junior Championship this year and an OHL and CHL champion, he most recently posted 121 points and a +56 for the London Knights in the regular season and 35 points in the 18 playoff games leading to their Memorial Cup win. Possibly the next big piece in the Arizona rebuild, he has impressed and dominated on every level of competition. Besting or mirroring Turris in every department at their respective age levels, even accounting for the vastly different programs they played for, Dvorak is the silver lining we have been waiting five years for.

 

No matter how you look at it, the Arizona rebuild happening now is the most promising the team has ever looked in all my years as a fan. The organization lost a lot of big names along the way, but none that I could have seen winning us a cup. I would say all things considered, we are better off having Turris make his exodus from the desert.