At this point in the Blues’ off-season, everyone has an idea of what the roster might look like in 2022-23. Know the situation of the salary cap of the team and who needs to be signed again. You probably have thoughts on what might or might not happen, which you can share in our annual fan survey.
What do I think will happen? Who stays and who goes during the low season?
This year, I took the Blues 23-man roster and divided it into eight categories that I think best describe the state of the players. You may disagree with all of them – that’s what the comments section is for – but this is how I view their situation as we speak:
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong would trade Buchnevich with the New York Rangers 10 times out of 10. Buchnevich has scored 30 goals and 76 points at a bargain price of $ 5.8 million and there are still three years left to deal .
The captain is the heart and soul of the roster. The question is not whether it will be around in 2022-23; it’s when he starts talking about extending his contract with the 32-year-old that he could play the rest of his career in St. Louis.
He is a leader and the best defender of the Blues. It’s hard to believe there was a time when his seven year old, $ 45.5 million ($ 6.5 million annual average value) looked like an albatross because it now looks like a steal with five years remaining.
If the 22-year-old had underperformed or suffered a few more injuries last season, the Blues might have been a little worried about his future. But after scoring 20 goals and 57 assists, his future is brighter than ever.
It may not be untouchable, per se, but would I trade it? No. He is 24 and has scored 110 points in 129 games in the last two seasons. Yes, he has holes in his game, but with a talent like his, you have to let him grow.
The almost untouchable
His playoff performance restored the Blues’ confidence in their # 1 goalkeeper. 1? Maybe, but even if the club aren’t entirely comfortable with him returning to his old form, it’s arguably his best option for the 2022-23 season.
There are fans who would treat him, but I don’t think the team has any desire to do so, and it would actually be tough. You would need a No. 1 defender in exchange and keep in mind that it would cost you a lot more than his $ 6.5 million AAV.
He is in the perfect phase of his career in regards to the position of the Blues in their league window. There may come a day when prospective client Scott Perunovich proves he can take control of this place, but it’s not now.
He’s the prototype of Armstrong’s player – responsible, skilled and tough – which is why the GM signed him for an eight-year extension. He brings an element that the Blues don’t have and I don’t see the club parting with him anytime soon.
He’s 22, has a ton of potential, and makes $ 750,000, so it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. If there’s a big trade on the table and the other team insists on including it, you might want to think about it. But that would be really difficult.
Standing still … almost certainly
That’s exactly what the Blues thought about joining free agency last year, and they were fine by giving it a $ 22.5 million five-year deal. At 29, there may not be many buyers with four years left on the deal, but they’re not looking to move it anyway.
The Blues have shed his name in commercial talks in recent years, but nothing has materialized. In February, it signed a two-year extension of $ 1.9 million, which helps them keep one of their inspiring leaders longer at a favorable cost.
It will be interesting to see what kind of opportunities he will have with the Blues after being acquired by Ottawa last year and playing 39 games for his hometown team. He has a one-way contract worth $ 750,000 in 2022-23, so he should be in the mix.
After spending four seasons bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL, he played 30 career games with the Blues in 2021-22. He can still spend time in minors, but has proven reliable when needed.
Standing still … I think
Less than a month before free will, he still doesn’t have a deal, which is a little troubling. But the Blues budget is tight, so the club has to find the right price with the fan favorite. I believe that when two parties want something to happen, it will happen.
He scored 26 goals and 60 points in 2021-22 and has a cap of $ 2.25 million in 2022-23, so you keep that, right? You would think, but how about selling high before it is owed a hike after the 2022-23 season? It could be a trading chip if the club makes a big move.
Limited, so it is likely to remain stationary
He needs a new contract and has arbitration rights, so he’ll get a modest raise this summer. The 26-year-old has played a total of 84 games in the past two seasons and the Blues love what they see. It is safe to assume that he will be in the top seven in defense.
While he looked good in the playoffs, particularly taking stock of power play, it doesn’t look like the Blues can get the most value for him in a trade due to his injury history. The RFA has to come back and prove that he can stay healthy.
Listening to offers
This is a complicated situation, but the bottom line is that you have to listen if the phone rings. This doesn’t mean you have to trade it, but you have to listen. His 34-goal, 82-point season was supposed to entice someone, and since he hasn’t signed beyond next summer and has requested a swap in the past, it must be a consideration.
This doesn’t mean the Blues are getting offers. I put him in this category because if the team is talking about trading, he is a player you could try to include in the deal. He has a two-year contract left, and moving his $ 3,275 AAV would free up valuable limit room.
It could be moving
It will be a UFA in July if not re-signed by the Blues. It might help the blue line, but it might be too expensive. If the 31-year veteran goes to the market, he could get a four or five-year contract with a $ 5 million AAV, and that’s probably more than the Blues can afford.
Likewise, it will be a UFA if not signed again and going to market seems like a strong possibility. Husso is looking for a great payday in free agency, and considering the disappointing list of goalkeepers available this summer, he will likely get it. So, barring unforeseen circumstances, he will leave.
Never say never, especially with Armstrong’s affinity for respected veterans, but it seems to be the end of the road to Bozak in St. Louis. If so, it was four fantastic seasons that included 220 regular season games, 50 playoff games and, of course, a Stanley Cup.
(Top photo: Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today)