Friday, June 23, 2017

Blues acquire Schenn from Flyers, trade Reaves to Penguins

St. Louis deals Lehtera, 27th pick in this draft, conditional pick in 2018, 
get 31st pick along with Sundqvist, send 2017 second-rounder to Pittsburgh 

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues didn't want to be left in the dust with the rash of high-impact trades that took place Friday morning at the NHL Draft, so they made a big splash themselves on Friday night.

The Blues acquired 25-year-old center Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the 27th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft (obtained from the Washington Capitals in the trade for Kevin Shattenkirk), a conditional 2018 pick, and center Jori Lehtera.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that the condition on the 2018 pick is as follows: it's top 10-protected and the Blues have the option to push it to 2019. If they do so, Philadelphia also gets a third in 2020.
(Philadelphia Flyers photo)
The Blues acquired Brayden Schenn (pictured) from the Flyers on Friday
for Jori Lehtera and two No. 1 picks.

Schenn, who was the Los Angeles Kings' No. 1 pick (fifth overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft, is a player the Blues have coveted for quite some time and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Flyers GM Ron Hextall were finally able to consummate a deal.

"Like most trades, they take mostly months," Armstrong said. "Brayden's a player that we've looked at to our core group quite honestly for a number of years. He's a player that I've talked to 'Hexy' about and it was more just a 'If you're considering moving him, keep me in mind.' Over time, he understood my interest and when he called recently and said that they might make that move, he asked if our interest was still there and I said yes and then we just started to go to work on what all that he felt was a return that can make him pull the trigger and we got to that tonight."

In a separate move shortly after making their first round pick at No. 20, the Blues traded fourth-line right wing Ryan Reaves and the 51st pick in this year's draft (second-round pick) to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Oskar Sundqvist and the Penguins' first-round pick, No. 31.

The Blues were looking to shed the contract of Lehtera, which has two years remaining with a $4.7 million cap hit after a disappointing season in which Lehtera had seven goals and 15 assists in 64 regular-season games.

"I still do believe in Jori and I told that to Ron that he's a really proud player that didn't have the year that he wanted to have," Armstrong said. "I think he's going to bounce back and be a real good player and I hope he is a real good player for Philadelphia, but you have to give and obviously the draft picks were really important to Philadelphia in this transaction and almost in a cap era world, you have to make the dollars work."

Schenn still has three years remaining of a four-year contract worth $20.5 million with a $5.125 million average annual value remaining; he had 25 goals and 30 assists in 79 games for the Flyers last season; he has 109 goals and 139 assists in 433 NHL games, but 114 of his 248 points in the NHL have come the past two seasons.

Schenn will slot into the Blues' top six and be one of their top two centers along with Paul Stastny. 

"He can play at both wings and center ice. He's a player that can certainly produce on the power play, he fits into that age group with (Vladimir) Tarasenko, (Jaden) Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, (Alex) Pietrangelo, (Colton) Parayko. He's a player that fits into what we started last year at this time to try and incorporate younger people into the organization in key roles. I think he'll have a key role for us. The people that work with him rave about his character. I've had an opportunity to talk to people about him both internationally and in the NHL and it's a consistent theme that comes back. It's a theme where the trades blend in because of what we were giving up in Ryan Reaves, we wanted to have that type of character coming back.

"... We think that these forwards hit their prime at 25, 26. He'll play in his prime now for the next four or five years. We think we're getting him at a good time obviously. He's a highly touted junior player, an accomplished international player at the junior level and accomplished coming into the league. He was part of a huge trade that brought a Stanley Cup to Los Angeles and that was a key piece for them winning the Cup with him going to Philadelphia. Maturity comes with age and experience and we think we're getting him at just a really good time to benefit from that."

In dealing Reaves, the Blues were able to draft Russian left wing/center Klim Kostin, who was rated the No. 1 European skater who dealt with injury last season but according to reports, could be a steal at that pick for the Blues, and had it not been for a shoulder injury, Kostin could conceivably been a top 5-10 pick.

At 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, Kostin had six goals and 10 points for five teams in all competitions, including last playing for Dynamo Moscow. Here is his bio: http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftprospectdetail.htm?cat=2&dpid=107331&sort=finalRank&year=2017.

"It reminded me of my first draft as the manager with the Blues when we really liked Tarasenko," Armstrong said, "but there was uncertainty with the KHL and different things and we took the more secure player in Jaden Schwartz and went to work about sort of swinging for the fences and it really was like ... I don't want to put pressure on either player to be Schwartz or Tarasenko, but there's a lot of similarities in the sense that we took a player we felt is a high character player that's going to go anything he can to play in the NHL in Thomas and we really took a swing there at 31."

Sundqvist is 6-3, 209 pounds and has 28 games of NHL experience with the Penguins, including 10 last season; he has one goal and three assists, all in the 2015-16 season in 18 games after being a third-round pick in 2012. 

Sundqvist is a player the Blues feel will be NHL-ready immediately.

"We see him as NHL-ready now. He's coming out of his entry-level contract. He signed a three-year deal," Armstrong said. "The first year, he went back to play in Sweden and the last two years he's been in the NHL. Getting NHL games both years, he's a big, strong centerman, 6-3, somewhere around 215-220, a very detail-oriented game. When you usually get a Swedish or a Finnish player, they come with great detail and this player has great detail in his game, a player that we really liked in his draft year. I know Ray Shero was running the team then and we were going to select him, I think we picked a few picks after that and we thought he might slide to us because he was a late bloomer, but Ray's group grabbed him, so we've had our eye on him for a while."

Losing Reaves will be tough, as he is one of the -- if not THE -- toughest players in the league. Reaves played his entire seven-year career with the Blues and has 27 goals and 24 assists in 419 regular-season games.

Armstrong said the Penguins came calling about Reaves, and if he hadn't had the time to reflect on it and if the Penguins would have called Friday night, this might not have happened.

"It was very difficult. Not surprisingly, Pittsburgh called and made an extremely enticing offer and probably if they would have just called today, I don't think I could have been in the mental position to do it," Armstrong said. "Then the Philaedelphia trade and getting a high character player like Schenn back, I don't want to say it made it palatable, but ... it's not a comfortable feeling because I've had an opportunity to watch Ryan grow on and off the ice, get married, bring a young child into the world. As good as he is a competitor on the ice, he's a better person off the ice. Those are the things I think that inside the organization, you get a chance to see something when you see someone every day. I'm going to miss his personality, I'm going to miss his demeanor, his professionalism and his desire to try and get better and better. ... He did a phenomenal job of preparing for the new NHL and not surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Penguins saw that also."

Armstrong has said on more than one occasion the Blues will stay the course and build the team up with draft picks after trading the 27th away to the Flyers, he got one back and made two in the first round all along, including center Robert Thomas with the 20th pick.

But in getting Thomas at No. 20, the Blues were prepared to lose multiple picks to get Schenn.

"We obviously were prepared to give up the picks that we did, but these deals were made with the understanding that one was going to happen the other one was going to happen," Armstrong said. "We had to wait. Obviously we talked to the teams. I don't think anyone was aware nor should they be about what we're thinking with other teams. But when we got past pick 20, we were in a spot where we were very comfortable with the pick we took at 20 and excited to see if we could walk away with this draft with two first round picks, plus two NHL-ready players. We were able to do that. We were always ready to give up pick 51 to acquire the two players that we wanted in this draft. We were very fortunate and sometimes the draft goes like that. There was a player that we took at 31, got on the wrong side of the mountain and we were so excited that he was there at 31."

Thomas, listed at 6-foot-0 and 193 pounds, comes from the London Knights of the Ontatio Hockey League where he had 16 goals and 50 assists in 66 games during the regular season and seven goals and five assists in 14 playoff games.

Thomas was ranked 22nd at the final ranking among North American skaters, up from his midterm ranking of 28th.

His 66 points were third among players on the Knights' team, which included a best five-point game against Flint on Dec. 4, 2016.

Thomas' first season with the Knights was in 2015-16, when London won the Memorial Cup; he compares his style of play with that of Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar and Nashville center Mike Fisher.

More on Thomas here: http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftprospectdetail.htm?cat=1&dpid=107449&sort=finalRank&year=2017.

And with getting Thomas at No. 20, the Blues were content even though they were interested in moving up for a player Armstrong chose not to name. That player wound up going in the top 10, and the price would have likely cost the Blues both No. 20 and No. 27 at the very least.

"There was one player that we would have moved up to," Armstrong said. "He went obviously went before double digits and once that happened, we weren't going to use both picks. We were prepared to move 20 and 27 and sometimes trade works in your way and we weren't able to do that and then everything else sort of fell into place."

Armstrong didn't necessarily indicate the Blues were going to be able to replace what Reaves brought to them because it's hard to replicate.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan Reaves (pictured) was traded to the two-time Cup champ
Pittsburgh Penguins after spending seven years in St. Louis.

"I don't think we have a Ryan Reaves replacement internally and I'm not sure there's a Ryan Reaves replacement externally," Armstrong said. "That's why he was so valuable. We've been fortunate enough now to have Ryan for a number of years. I understand his value. Every team has a player of his capabilities and his skill set and now we're one that doesn't. I don't think it's as easy to go out and getting one. I put a lot of value in what Ryan does in many different fashions and facets than what maybe other people do. If there was an easy replacement for Ryan Reaves, on July 1st, (Penguins GM) Jim Rutherford would have just waited and done that."

As for Saturday, the Blues have a fourth-round pick (113), a fifth-round pick (130) from a trade with Buffalo for goalie Anders Nilsson, a sixth-round pick (175) and a seventh-round pick (206), and Armstrong doesn't see the Blues involved in any activity.

"You're always listening, but I have nothing that would make me think that quite honestly, not just tomorrow, for the next little while, our focus now changes to signing some of our restricted free agents," Armstrong said. "That could change with one phone call but I don't envision that."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blues unveil 2017-18 regular-season schedule

Highlights include first matchups against expansion Vegas, home and 
home sets with Winnipeg, Chicago, home opener against Ken Hitchcock

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The NHL unveiled its 2017-18 regular-season schedule on Thursday afternoon, and it was already known that the Blues would open the season on Oct. 4 at Pittsburgh and open at home Oct. 7 against Ken Hitchcock and the Dallas Stars.

But the remainder of the Blues schedule was set, including 16 sets of back-to-back games, a season-long five-game homestand on Nov. 21-Dec. 1 and a road trip that doesn't exceed four games at any point.

The Blues will open with seven of their first nine games on the road, play the Winnipeg Jets in a true home-and-home set Dec. 16-17 and against the Chicago Blackhawks April 4 and 6.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins visit Scottrade Center for a matinee affair at 2 p.m. on Feb. 11 and the Blues' first matchup with the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators, who eliminated St. Louis in six games in the second round, come to St. Louis on Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving.

The Blues' first game against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights takes place in Las Vegas on Oct. 21, one of two visits for the Blues to the new NHL city. Vegas makes its only visit to St. Louis on January 4.

The Blues will finish against the Colorado Avalanche for the second straight season, this time in Denver on April 7.

Here is the Blues' full schedule, preseason and regular season: 

2017-18 ST. LOUIS BLUES SCHEDULE
PRESEASON
SEPTEMBER
19 -- at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
20 -- COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
22 -- at Washington, 6 p.m.
23 -- DALLAS, 7 p.m.
24 -- vs. Pittsburgh at Belle Vernon, Pa., TBA
26 -- at Columbus, 6 p.m.
28 -- vs. Minnesota at Kansas City, 7 p.m.
OCTOBER
1 -- WASHINGTON, 2 p.m.

REGULAR SEASON
4 -- at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
7 -- DALLAS, 7 p.m.
9 -- at NY Islanders, Noon
10 -- at NY Rangers, 6 p.m.
12 -- at Florida, 6:30 p.m.
14 -- at Tampa Bay, 6 p.m.
18 -- CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
19 -- at Colorado, 8 p.m.
21 -- at Vegas, 9:30 p.m.
25 -- CALGARY, 7 p.m.
27 -- at Carolina, 6:30 p.m.
28 -- COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
30 -- LOS ANGELES, 7 p.m.

NOVEMBER
2 -- PHILADELPHIA, 7 p.m.
4 -- TORONTO, 7 p.m.
7 -- at New Jersey, 6 p.m.
9 -- ARIZONA, 7 p.m.
11 -- N.Y. ISLANDERS, 7 p.m.
13 -- at Calgary, 8 p.m.
16 -- at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
18 -- at Vancouver, 9 p.m.
21 -- EDMONTON, 7 p.m.
24 -- NASHVILLE, 7 p.m.
25 -- MINNESOTA, 7 p.m.
29 -- ANAHEIM, 8 p.m.

DECEMBER
1 -- LOS ANGELES, 7 p.m.
2 -- at Minnesota, 5 p.m.
5 -- at Montreal, 6:30 p.m.
7 -- DALLAS, 7 p.m.
9 -- at Detroit,  - 6 p.m.
10 -- BUFFALO, 6 p.m.
12 -- TAMPA BAY, 7 p.m.
14 -- ANAHEIM, 7 p.m.
16 -- WINNIPEG, 6 p.m.
17 -- at Winnipeg, 5 p.m.
20 -- at Calgary, 8:30 p.m.
21 -- at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
23 -- at Vancouver, 9 p.m.
27 -- NASHVILLE, 7 p.m.
29 -- at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
30 -- CAROLINA, 7 p.m.

JANUARY
2 -- NEW JERSEY, 7 p.m.
4 -- VEGAS, 7 p.m.
6 -- at Philadelphia, Noon
7 -- at Washington - 2 p.m.
9 -- FLORIDA, 7 p.m.
16 -- at Toronto, 6 p.m.
18 -- at Ottawa, 6:30 p.m.
20 -- ARIZONA, 7 p.m.
23 -- OTTAWA, 7 p.m.
25 -- COLORADO, 7 p.m.
30 -- MONTREAL, 7 p.m.

FEBRUARY
1 -- at Boston, 6 p.m.
3 -- at Buffalo, 6 p.m.
6 -- MINNESOTA, 7 p.m.
8 -- COLORADO, 7 p.m.
9 -- at Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
11 -- PITTSBURGH, 2 p.m.
13 -- at Nashville, 7 p.m.
16 -- at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
20 -- SAN JOSE, 7 p.m.
23 -- WINNIPEG, 7 p.m.
25 -- at Nashville, 5 p.m.
27 -- at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
28 -- DETROIT, 7 p.m.

MARCH
3 -- at Dallas, 1 p.m.
8 -- at San Jose, 9:30 p.m.
10 -- at Los Angeles, 3 p.m.
12 -- at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
15 -- vs. COLORADO, 7 p.m.
17 -- vs. N.Y. RANGERS, 7 p.m.
18 -- at Chicago, 6:30 p.m.
21 -- BOSTON, 7 p.m.
23 -- VANCOUVER, 7 p.m.
24 -- at Columbus, 6 p.m.
27 -- SAN JOSE, 7 p.m.
30 -- at Vegas, 9:30 p.m.
31 -- at Arizona, 7 p.m.

APRIL
2 -- WASHINGTON, 7 p.m.
4 -- CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
6 -- at Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
7 -- at Colorado, 8 p.m.

Perron has mixed emotions about leaving St. Louis again

Forward selected by Vegas in expansion draft disappointed not 
to stay with Blues, excited about new challenge with Golden Knights

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- David Perron understands the business, but in the end, leaving St. Louis is a mixed bag of emotions after being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft on Wednesday.

There's disappointment for Perron leaving the place where his career began for the second time, but there's certainly excitement of joining a new franchise that on paper looks to be further along than when the NHL expanded last in 2000 with the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron's second stint with the Blues came to an end after the
forward was chosen by Vegas in the expansion draft Wednesday.

Perron, 29, was the player the Golden Knights targeted on the Blues' roster when general manager Doug Armstrong submitted the Blues' list of available players and those that were protected.

Essentially, it came down to Ryan Reaves or Perron that would get the protection rights. The Blues chose Reaves, exposed Perron and when Perron go that call from Armstrong earlier in the week, the inevitable set in.

"It's a business and that's the way it went," Perron said Thursday morning. "I'm still a little bit disappointed about the way everything happened, but I understand the situation. Yes, I was hoping to be (in St. Louis) for two (years) and hopefully more. The way it went last year, I was proud of the effort I was putting out there last night. That's how I feel about it. That's a big positive. If that's it for me in St. Louis, I'm a little more happy the way it went this time than maybe the last time I was there. It went well, too, the last time, but the feeling was a little bit different leaving and this time, it's just like in a way a tough bounce with the business. 

"I found out a couple nights ago. 'Army' called me. I was able to sleep on it and kind of feel the disappointment and then when I got up in the morning, I can already feel like I was turning the page. Looking at the city, the restaurants, I've been there a couple times, I'm starting to get excited about it so I'm glad I got to find out about it at least the day before."

Perron had 18 goals and 28 assists in the regular-season in 2016-17 after signing a two-year, $7.5 million free agent contract to return to the franchise that made him a first-round pick in 2007 (26th pick). He felt it was a good enough season to warrant being one of the protected players, but with Vladimir Sobotka returning and signing a three-year contract and Reaves' importance to the team, someone had to be left exposed.

"It was disappointing; I can't lie about that," Perron said. "I felt like I had a strong season, strong enough to be on the list. Things happen. 'Sobe' comes back to sign for a three-year deal. He's a very valuable player on the team and then obviously the energy 'Reavo' brings to the fourth line is necessary on every team. A lot of young guys coming up, too, and pushing. I'm proud of the way the Blues are built. I'm always going to be proud that I played in St. Louis but still it's disappointing. I felt like I could have been on there, but in the end, it's a business. I know that 'Army' didn't feel comfortable, just like the other GM's, to put the list out there. They still get attached to the players to an extent. They don't want to lose anybody. These guys work so hard to build a team. It takes a while to build a team the way you want it. With the expansion draft, things like this happen. It's tough for everybody."

A source close to the situation said that Armstrong and Vegas GM George McPhee had dialogue about perhaps making a trade to keep Perron off Vegas' wish list and steered in the direction of someone else, perhaps Jori Lehtera, but the price was too high for Armstrong's liking and thus, Perron was left in the vulnerable spot of being taken.

"We knew we were going to lose a player that we didn't want to lose," Armstrong said on the team website. "That's the nature of the expansion draft and the price for having an additional team in the NHL. We'd like to thank David for his time with the Blues and wish him the best of luck with the Golden Knights."

And this Armstrong had to make the call to inform Perron he would be a player exposed.

"I got the call midweek (last week) that I wasn't going to get protected," Perron said. "He had a good feeling that I wasn't going to be selected or that they were going to do something if that was the case. It didn't work out and I know he tried. I have so much respect for 'Army.' There's no hard feelings. I understand the business. ... St. Louis is always going to be my favorite place to play in the league because I started there. I played there seven years out of 10 so far. Everyone in St. Louis are great people. I had so much fun playing at Scottrade Center and I always will."

While Perron had a solid regular-season, his playoff performance -- at least on paper -- was not what he wanted nor what the organization expected. Perron had one assist in 11 Stanley Cup playoff games and it was more evident in the second round when the Blues were searching for offense in a six-game series loss to the Nashville Predators.

"I talked with both 'Yeozy' (Mike Yeo) and 'Army,'" Perron said. "The fact that 'Sobe' came back, it was a little bit tougher mentally on me. I wanted to win more than anything, but I was going home every night and some nights, I wasn't satisfied with my play. Some nights we were winning and I could move on a little bit easier from that first round. Still in the end, you go from kind of everything I was doing in the regular season, PK and all that stuff and then 'Sobe' comes back, it changes a lot. I don't play PK anymore, I go from 17, 18 minutes to 13-14 and on top of that, I feel like my game slipped a little bit. I really appreciate that 'Yeozy' kept giving me a chance to go out and try and make a difference. I still feel that if we kept playing, I would have found a way eventually. I really felt the trust in Yeozy for that too because we had a lot of players that wanted to play, that could play. The way it was going, I wasn't satisfied with myself. I know that they wanted more from me, too. That's just the way it is, but mentally, it was a tough one that way."

Perron, who recently became a father for the second time, now moves to a franchise that added some notable players, including James Neal of the Predators, Marc-Andre Fleury of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Cody Eakin of the Dallas Stars, Erik Haula of the Minnesota Wild, among others.

"It's a great feeling," Perron said. "I was talking with Marc-Andre Fleury. We're good buddies, we played together. I had some guys call me on teams I played with before and they said, 'You're going to play with this guy, he's a great guy. You're going to love him,' things like that. I really do feel like we have a strong chance to be competitive to make the playoffs next year. That's all you want really. The pressure won't be there for us to make playoffs in a way just because it's the nature of that, but I know that in the room, there's never one team that goes into the season not wanting to make the playoffs. You see what Nashville did this year. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron had 18 goals and 28 assists for the Blues last season after
returning to sign a two-year, $7.5 million free agent contract in 2016.

"Playoffs are so tight, you never know. It'll be crucial early on to try and build chemistry and some kind of identity throughout the year that the coaching staff will obviously try their best to do that. I think we're going to have one of the better coaches in Gerard Gallant. I've only heard great things about him and that's one of the things the next morning when I got up, I remember it was him that coaches the team and it really made me more excited because of everything I've heard about him. I'm also going to play with six or seven other French-Canadian players. That's another cool thing that I didn't really experience in my whole career."

Perron, who has 159 goals and 219 assists in 10 seasons, won't close the door on a possible return to St. Louis one day, whether it be as a player or in another capacity.

"I'm always open to St. Louis," he said. "I know the team is also. I'm very open to anything really. Quite frankly, everyone knows how much I love the game; I want to stay involved even when I'm done. Maybe it will be when I'm playing, maybe it will be when I'm done in 10 years, I'm not sure; I don't know anything. It's not something I've talked with anybody or after, but St. Louis is close to my heart as far as the hockey team and other things. I'll always be connected somehow with them."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blues open in Pittsburgh, host Dallas in home opener

Season begins Oct. 4 against defending champs, 
welcome Ken Hitchcock for first game at Scottrade Center

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues will open the 2017-18 season on the road against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions then open the home schedule against an old friend.

The Blues will begin the season Oct. 4 for the raising of the Stanley Cup banner against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena

The Blues will begin their home schedule on Oct. 7 at Scottrade Center against none other than Ken Hitchcock and the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m.

Hitchcock, who will begin his second stint as Stars coach after taking over for Lindy Ruff over the summer, coached the Blues for parts of six seasons spanning from 2011-2017 before being fired on Jan. 31.

The complete 2017-18 regular-season schedule will be unveiled on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Blues announce prospect camp

Team draft picks, invitees will hit ice June 28-July 1

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues announced Monday their plans for the 2017 Prospect Camp.

Camp will take place at the Ice Zone practice facility at St. Louis Outlet Mall beginning Wed., June 28 through Sat., July 1.

All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public and camp times will get underway at 1 p.m. for goalies individual skill work, skater sessions at 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. There will be 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 scrimmage sessions beginning at 2:45 p.m. daily.

The Blues will announce more prospects to take part after this weekend's NHL Draft in Chicago but among those scheduled include teams split into two groups: 

Team Tkachuk members include:
G – Evan Fitzpatrick (2016 59th overall)
D – Niko Mikkola (2015 127th overall)
D – Grant Frederic (amateur invitee)
F – Adam Musil (2015 94th overall)
F – Filip Helt (2016 211th overall)
F – Dwyer Tschantz (2014 202nd overall)
F – Nolan Stevens (2016 125th overall)
F – Devin Brosseau (amateur invitee)

Team MacInnis members include:
G – Luke Opilka (2015 146th overall)
D – Jake Walman (2014 82nd overall)
F – Tage Thompson (2016 26th overall)
F – Jordan Kyrou (2016 35th overall)
F – Austin Poganski (2014 110th overall)
F – Tanner Kaspick (2016 119th overall)
F – Nikolaj Krag-Christensen (2016 209th overall)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blues protected/unprotected list made available

Among notables not protected include Perron, 
Brodziak, Lehtera, Bortuzzo, Gunnarsson, Hutton

BY LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The NHL made public Sunday morning the protected/unprotected list available for the Vegas Golden Knights, who will make their expansion draft selections known on Wednesday at the during the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

Among those protected by the Blues, who chose to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goal -- as Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated to the media during the Blues' exit meetings -- were forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund and Ryan Reaves, defensemen Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Joel Edmundson and goalie Jake Allen.

That means there will be some notable players the Blues -- and the other 29 NHL teams -- have made available for Vegas to select, barring any trades made between the Golden Knights and such teams.

Some notable names left exposed by the Blues include David Perron, Kyle Brodziak, Jori Lehtera, Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi, Scottie Upshall (UFA), Nail Yakupov, Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm and Carter Hutton.

Among those who were protection-exempt included Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Zach Sanford and Ivan Barbashev.

A complete list of protected/unprotected players can be found here: https://www.nhl.com/news/protected-list-for-vegas-golden-knights-nhl-expansion-draft/c-289972722?tid=289242400

Friday, June 16, 2017

Blues announce 2017-18 preseason schedule

Team will play eight games, including Kraft Hockeyville game against 
Cup champ Penguins, neutral site game in Kansas City against Wild

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues released their preseason schedule on Friday afternoon and will play eight games, including the Kraft Hockeyville game against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and a neutral site game once again in Kansas City.

The Blues open on Sept. 19 against Ken Hitchcock and the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. in Dallas. 

The Blues will play eight games, including to each against the Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.

The Blues' Kraft Hockeyville game against the Penguins will take place on Sept. 24 in Belle Vernon, Pa. at a time to be determined and their game against the Wild at Sprint Center will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28.

The Blues will have three home games at Scottrade Center, on Sept. 20 against the Blue Jackets, Sept. 23 against the Stars and Oct. 1, a 2 p.m. matinee against the Capitals.

The NHL is expected to announce home openers at 11 a.m. (CT) on June 21 and the full regular-season schedule at 2 p.m. (CT) on June 22.

BLUES PRESEASON SCHEDULE
SEPTEMBER
19 -- at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
20 -- COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
22 -- at Washington, 6 p.m.
23 -- DALLAS, 7 p.m.
24 -- vs. Pittsburgh at Belle Vernon, Pa., TBA
26 -- at Columbus, 6 p.m.
28 -- vs. Minnesota at Kansas City, 7 p.m.
OCTOBER
1 -- WASHINGTON, 2 p.m.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blues add Berube, Tkaczuk, Alexander to coaching staff

Trio joins Sydor, Ott as new coaches for upcoming season

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have completed their coaching staff with the additions of Craig Berube as associate coach, David Alexander as the new goalie coach and Daniel Tkaczuk as a skills/assistant coach on Thursday.

The trio of coaches join Darryl Sydor and Steve Ott, who were hired to be part of Mike Yeo's staff last month to go along with video coach Sean Ferrell.
(St. Louis Blues file photo)
Craig Berube, Daniel Tkaczuk and David Alexander have 
been added to coach Mike Yeo's staff for 2017-18.

The addition of Berube and Tkaczuk along with Sydor will reunite the staff of the Chicago Wolves from a season ago. 

Sydor, Ott, Berube, Tkaczuk and Alexander replace Rick Wilson, Ray Bennett and Steve Thomas. Martin Brodeur, who filled in as goalie coach after Jim Corsi was fired, returned to his full-time role as assistant general manager and spearheaded the hiring of a new goalie coach.

Former Blues defenseman Barret Jackman was also added as a developmental coach June 2.

With Yeo (43), Berube, (51), Sydor (45), Tkaczuk (38), Alexander (35) and Ott (34), it's a younger staff moving forward compared to what the Blues had with Ken Hitchcock (65), Wilson (66), Bennett (55) and Thomas (53) last season.

"It's a young staff," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said on the team's website. "... It's an interesting staff, it's a young staff and a staff I think can grow with our younger players. 

"I gave Mike the final say and he has to work with these guys every day, but what you try and do is look where Mike might need to fill in some vacancies in his resume. Having guys that have played the game for a number of years, a guy like Ott, a guy like Sydor, a guy like Berube is really good for Mike to have that.

"I think we all think we know what players are going through, but until you've walked in their shoes, you really don't know. ... Having those experiences, I think, are really good. Just the communication skills with today's players, I think it's very important. Maybe a decade ago, players (were just) 'tell me what to do and I'll do it.' Now they want to know why. It's the 'why' generation. You have to have great communication skills and I think this group has that."

The 51-year-old Berube, who was a candidate for the Buffalo Sabres coaching job that went to former Blue Phil Housley on Thursday, spent last season as the coach of the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves and led the Wolves to a record of 44-19-13 (101 pts), Chicago's best regular-season since 2009-10, and a first place finish in the Central Division. The Wolves reached the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

A coach for 14 seasons, Berube spent two seasons as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Flyers went 75-58-28 in the regular season (2013-2015). Berube also spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Flyers (2006-07, 2008-14) and for two seasons (2006-08) was the coach and three seasons as an assistant coach (2004-07) with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL.

As a player, Berube spent 17 seasons in Philadelphia, Toronto, Calgary, Washington, and the New York Islanders and had 61 goals and 98 assists in 1,054 regular season games and is one of three players in NHL history to have appeared in over 1,000 regular season games and serve over 3,000 penalty minutes.

Tkaczuk, 38, spent last season as an assistant on Berube’s coaching staff in Chicago and primarily worked with the Blues' young prospects.

Prior to his stint with the Wolves, Tkaczuk spent four seasons as a coach in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), including a season as the associate coach with Kitchener and three seasons as an assistant with Owen Sound.

Tkaczuk was a first-round pick of the Calgary Flames (No. 6 overall) in the 1997 NHL Draft and played 12 seasons of pro hockey but only 19 games with the Flames in 2000-01.

On June 23, 2001, the Blues acquired Tkaczuk and goalie Fred Brathwaite and forward Sergei Varlamov along with a 2001 ninth round pick for goalie Roman Turek and a 2001 fourth-round pick.

One player extremely excited to have Alexander on board is Blues goalie Jake Allen, who has worked with Alexander, the the director of goaltending development at Alexander Goaltending, since he was 13 years old. 

Alexander, 35, has worked with several NHL goaltenders during the offseason, including Allen and spent the past four seasons as goalie coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the Tampa Bay Lightning's AHL affiliate that just finished second to Grand Rapids in the Calder Cup Final.

Alexander spent five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Maine, where he coached St. Louis native Ben Bishop.

"Just the NHL in general is an opportunity to work with the best athletes in our respective sport on the planet," Alexander said. "For me, that's ultimately been my dream, alongside of winning a Stanley Cup. I think that's probably the biggest part of it for me is working at the highest level possible in hockey.

"The St. Louis Blues provided an opening there and I think the timing was right. I've been very grateful to be in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization for four seasons now, obviously in the American League. It's a world class organization. I've learned so much here over the years, but I think now's the time to take those learnings and apply it in an environment where new challenges will exist for me. I'm looking forward to that. I think that's what great coaches do, they look for new challenges, explore those and kind of go after it. That's what I'm excited about."

Both Allen (Fredericton) and Alexander (Moncton) are New Brunswick natives .

"He was actually going to university in my hometown and he was the goaltending coach of the midget AAA team at the time, so he would have been in his early-to-mid 20s," Allen said on Thursday. "I was in bantam going into midget and his father ran a goalie camp in Moncton, which was about an hour, 20 minutes away. I wanted to go down and make a good impression, so I went down to his camp that summer, worked with him, made the midget team, worked with him for two years as a midget AAA coach, then I went off to junior and I've worked with him every summer since then (2008). 

"He's climbed the ranks. He was midget AAA coach, then he was the goalie coach at U of Maine, junior A coach, Hockey Canada, sort of worked his way up in the minors and Tampa and now he's with us in St. Louis. It's a cool story on his part. He's worked his way up. We're really fortunate that we're able to reconnect in the NHL."

Allen and Carter Hutton sat down with Brodeur at the end of the season and talked about what kind of coach would work best with them. Allen said he didn't know of the hiring until Wednesday.

"He just wanted to hear what we had to say. Basically that was it. He's known about Dave, but I didn't really know much else until really yesterday when I got a message that said that it was going to be announced. At the end of the day, I was really happy when I got the message that they chose Dave and he was going to be the goalie coach next year. 

"I think he's just so adaptable. Every goalie's different; that's the biggest thing. You can teach certain techniques, etc. But evety goalie has a style of his own. One thing might not work for another. I think that's where he separates himself. I think he can grasp, 'What do I need to do for Carter? What do I need to do for Jake?' He can make it work. He's just such a progressive thinker. He's ahead of the game, ahead of his time. He's always on the ball. He's going to bring a lot to our organization. He's ready to work every day and he has a plan. Once we figure what that plan is come September and training camp, we'll stick to it. I'm sure we'll have great success. He's such a great mind for hockey. He didn't play in the NHL like Marty, but he's very understanding of the game and he's very good on the mental side of it. That's a big thing as well. He knows when to push, when we need to work but a lot of times as well, when we need to lay off and we need to just take a break and take a breather. He's been great at that. He has been in the summers for me."

Friday, June 2, 2017

Jackman added as developmental coach

Blues' first-round pick in 1999 joins Sydor, Ott as former players to coaching staff

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues continue to keep the pipeline open for former players returning to work for the organization after their playing careers ended.

After announcing last week that former defenseman Darryl Sydor and forward Steve Ott were added as assistant coaches to Mike Yeo's staff, the Blues announced on Friday they are bringing back former defenseman Barret Jackman as the team's developmental coach.
Barret Jackman

Jackman, who called it quits after a 14-year playing career (13 with the Blues and one with Nashville) last October, will move into a coaching role that will have him working with the organization's defensemen, primarily prospects and draft picks.

"I actually had conversations with (Blues general manager) Doug Armstrong a couple of years ago about life after hockey," Jackman said on the team website. "Those talks furthered after retirement and 'Army' gave me an opportunity in the last couple months of the season to do this job on an interim basis just to see if I liked it. I enjoyed hanging out with the guys, being around the locker room with the Chicago (Wolves) and working with the younger up-and-coming guys.

"It seemed like a great fit for me."

Armstrong said on the team's website: "We are excited to have Barret back with the Blues organization. Barret's leadership and understanding of the game will be a great benefit to our young players."

Jackman, who had 29 goals and 157 assists in 876 NHL regular-season games and was named rookie of the year in 2002, was the 17th pick in the 1999 NHL Draft and is second only to Bernie Federko (927) in games played in a Blues uniform with 803.

"I think the development thing is perfect for me," Jackman added. "I have an opportunity just to focus on a couple of guys instead of a whole team. I always felt as a player that I was pretty good in helping the younger guys, and this is an opportunity to continue to do that without having to get beat up on the ice every day."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ott retires, joins Blues as assistant coach

Forward played in NHL for 14 seasons, including 
three in St. Louis; he joins Sydor on Yeo's coaching staff

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- In a bit of a surprise move to those on the outside but not so much to him, Steve Ott called it quits on a 14-year NHL career on Thursday to join the Blues as an assistant coach to Mike Yeo's staff.

Ott, who played for the Blues from late in the 2013-14 season through the 2015-16 season, signed a three-year contract.

Ott, 34, signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1 last year after leaving the Blues as a free agent and had seven points (three goals, four assists) in 53 games with the Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens this season. He had no points in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. His final game was the Canadiens' 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round on April 22.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Steve Ott (9) and Alex Pietrangelo will join forces again after Ott retired
from the NHL Thursday and joined the Blues as an assistant coach.

Ott had 288 points (109 goals, 179 assists) and 1,555 penalty minutes in 848 NHL games in 14 seasons with the Canadiens, Red Wings, Blues, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. He was selected by the Stars in the first round (No. 25) of the 2000 NHL Draft.

"To be honest with you, it wasn't as tough as probably most (players)," Ott said. "I'm real proud of my career, and I know it's time. I feel like at this situation in my career I've kind of been prepping for for the last few years to say the least and kind of mentoring players. When you do so and you work so closely with some of the coaches I've had before, it was a role for me that's been building. Now it all kind of comes together, obviously it's going to feel a lot better on my body going forward, but mind and work ethic, I'm totally excited to put the work in with the staff we have."

Ott joins Darryl Sydor, who was hired on Wednesday, on a coaching staff that did not bring back Rick Wilson, Ray Bennett, Steve Thomas and goalie development coach Ty Conklin. Assistant general manager Martin Brodeur is leading the search for a goalie coach.

"Everything that I've heard about Steve through the course of the season, even after the season was what a great leader he was, what a great teammate he was, how he helped the rest of the group and hearing the same things about him and his time in Detroit and hearing the same things about him in his time in Montreal" Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "When you're trying to fill a coaching position, the No. 1 quality you're looking for is leadership and he fills that in a great way."

Ott began conversations with Blues general manager Doug Armstrong last week about the coaching position and it all came together quickly but the two have spoken a few times to gauge where Ott's playing days were.

"Me and 'Army' have talked a few times seeing where I'm at in my career and kind of going forward. We talked there last week and started to feel what's the next best situation. Quite frankly, I told him it was time. And talking with my family and other people that are influential in my career as ex-coaches, ex-teammates and players that have kind of done both sides of this. 

"With the knowing of St. Louis and what I feel about the organization, the opportunity to grow and learn under Mike Yeo I think is a big thing for me as well and my next step in my career."

Ott admits he doesn't know Yeo all that well, but the two got the chance to sit down recently in a get-to-know meeting.

"I don't know Mike that well. We've had some great chats, and I've respected his career and what he's done firsthand of winning a (Stanley) Cup to his playing days to assistant coach and earning to becoming a head coach," Ott said. "Being able to meet him lately and being able to talk to him face to face, the respect I have for him obviously is very high. He's a great man and when you have to work with a great man every single day and to have an opportunity to learn, you want a guy like that."


Yeo and Ott spoke on the phone initially, then got together and sat down for a conversation and hit it off immediately. 

"There's certain qualities that you need to be a good coach," Yeo said. "You don't want to just pick up and have a job. You have to be prepared for the commitment that's required and he is certainly very eager to take part in that. He really wants to start this next chapter in his life and I think he's got an awful lot of potential."

Ott didn't define what his specific role will be, and Yeo said if was too soon for that.

"I'm going to have a lot of duties in the sense of some of the things might be secondhand, some stuff might be hands-on," Ott said. "Being able to know all the guys in that dressing room and I've played with almost every single guy in that room and knowing them firsthand, I think the players are know the type of person I am and the mutual respect will be there from the get-go. It'll be a hands-on experience."

Yeo remembers coaching against Ott when the Blues and Minnesota Wild played in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2015 and offered what many feel about Ott:

"The thing you learn about coaching and playing and being a competitor is people you generally hate the most are the ones you end up having the most respect for," Yeo said. "If you're completely OK with somebody on the other side, then that's not a very good sign for them."

One thing is for sure: Ott will replace what the Blues were missing when Kirk Muller left to become associate coach in Montreal. Muller was a highly respected coach among all players, and Ott was a highly respected veteran presence as a player here within the locker room walls that should see no problem translating to the coaching ranks.

Ott was a teammate with 20 of the 23 players that finished on the roster this season.

"When you're a role player for most of your career, I think I rely on structure in my game, so it's been something for a lot of years that I've wanted to do," Ott said. "Since I got into the league, I thought, 'One day, I can't wait to become a coach and help my players and help my teammates.' As a player, I always took that same attitude to get the most out of players or help young guys out on the bench or different situations. I really loved being able to do that.

"My leadership obviously starts with work ethic and that's exactly what I'm going to bring to my coaching as well. I think the guys know what type of respect I have for them but also the mutual respect that comes back."

When Ott did leave St. Louis after helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final in 2016 for the first time in 15 years, he got the chance to return to the Red Wings and play close to home where he played for the Windsor Spitfires before getting traded to the Canadiens for a late playoff push.

But it was certainly time to hang the blades up.

"I think it's been building over time to say the least," Ott said of retirement. "As a hockey player, you think you can play for the rest of your life. That's what your heart tells you, but my mind and body and family know it's time. To have this opportunity back in St. Louis where we absolutely loved the organization, the people that are involved with the organization from the ownership down to Doug Armstrong. You know how special it was to me and my family firsthand. Now to be able to work back in the organization and hopefully add an element I think I can bring to the coaching staff ... we all want that same goal. We want a chance to win. I never got to do it as a player, but I'd be sure proud to do it as a coach with a group and team I know we have there as well.

"Those things are always really hard (leaving St. Louis). For three years, you have great friends and family from the ownership down to the players and you called it home for all those years. It's always tough to leave home, but when you have an opportunity to go back home, it's always fun and knowing the familiarity with the organization, that's a huge determining factor going forward and being able to grow and learn in a great atmosphere and a great situation."

The Blues still need one assistant coach slot to be filled, and Chicago Wolves coach Craig Berube's name continues to pop up as a potential landing spot here.

Armstrong said recently he'd like to have the coaching staff in place by the NHL Draft, which will commence June 23-24 in Chicago.

Sydor named assistant under Yeo

Two worked together for five seasons in Minnesota, gets three-year contract

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues on Wednesday revealed one of the worst kept secrets regarding their assistant coaching vacancies.

Darryl Sydor
The team announced that former Blue and Chicago Wolves assistant coach Darryl Sydor will become an assistant in St. Louis after signing a three-year contract.

Sydor, who played for the Blues in 2009-10 as part of an 18-year career in the NHL, will likely take the spot vacated by Rick Wilson and work with the Blues' defenseman.

Sydor, 45, was a logical choice after working with Blues coach Mike Yeo when Yeo was coaching the Minnesota Wild from 2011-15.

"I am excited to have Darryl back on my staff," Yeo said in a statement. "He was an outstanding teacher during our time in Minnesota and will add a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team."

Sydor spent last season as an assistant with the American Hockey League's Wolves under Craig Berube, helping Chicago finish first in the Central Division in the regular season and reach the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

Sydor also served as an assistant on Yeo's coaching staff with the AHL's Houston Aeros in 2010-11.

Before beginning his coaching career, Sydor, the seventh overall draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings in 1990, played in 1,291 NHL regular season games in 18 seasons with Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh, before playing his final NHL seasons with the Blues.

Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, winning with Dallas and Ken Hitchcock in 1999 and Tampa Bay in 2004.

Berube and Wolves assistant Daniel Tkaczuk are expected to receive consideration for the remaining open spots on Yeo's staff after the Wolves moved on from the Blues and affiliated themselves with the expansion Vegas Golden Nights beginning next season with a five-year agreement.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo

By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo completed his first season as Blues captain, and the 22nd in franchise history.

There were trials and tribulations during the defenseman's first season wearing the 'C,' but one that proved to be vital in his continued growth as a leader moving forward.

Pietrangelo was once again the Blues' leader in ice time per game (25:16) and eighth in the NHL. He breaks down the season, what the first year as captain was like for him and moving the Blues into the future along with an addition to the family:
Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo

How do you reflect on season?
It still stings. I think a couple days of reflection, you've got to be proud of the point that we got to. I bet you halfway through the season not many people thought we'd be where we are, you know today, having this conversation. So, obviously still disappointing. The ultimate goal was obviously to win the Stanley Cup and to watch somebody else do it this year again is extremely frustrating. But again, we've got a young group here, we feel like we've built some things here, and I think we've really got an opportunity to take a really big step next year.

What your first year as captain what you expected?
I didn't expect to go through all the things that we went through. Obviously went through a coaching change, never an easy thing. But I've got a pretty good supporting cast in here and those guys are really helpful and alleviate a lot of that pressure off me, so a learning experience for me and I can get better in that aspect and that's what this reflection period is for.

What got your team back on the rails when it looked like things were looking bad there?
It came from within the group. We knew we had a better team than what we were showing. We had a few meetings and kind of turned things around. Obviously Mike (Yeo) came in and changed a few things and that really kind of kick-started that whole process, but it came from within this group. Even those injuries and what-not, the young guys came in and the veteran guys stepped up and it was a good combination we had going.

What do you have to do to get over the hump?
We've got to be obviously more consistent. You look at the way we lost, we played well for a lot of spurts throughout the series, but not the way we wanted to play every single game. Even last year, it's difficult to win. We played well ... this year, we got into a lot of good spots in games, we just weren't able to really close it out. Again, obviously we need to be better because we're not where we want to be, but a couple of those games were pretty close. You get a few bounces here or there and we're in a good situation.

How further are you ahead because Yeo came in this year?
It’s never easy to go through a coaching change in the middle of the season. But I think the advantage we did have is Mike was in here early and he understood us and he got to know us as players and people and that transition was easier than having someone come in from the outside. He's basically got a full year under his belt with this group as players, so he knows what to expect next year and he's a got a good opportunity in the offseason to do what he wants.

Do you expect anything to be any different next year?
I'm sure they're going to look over things and see what we need to do to get better, why we lost and all that stuff. As the season went on, Mike’s changes became second nature to us. We implemented them pretty early and 30 games in they end up becoming your habits. It’ll start from day one next year; Mike will really put his imprint on what he wants, but I think we know what to expect.

Do you have an identity?
Yeah we do. I think obviously 'Fabs' (Robby Fabbri) will be healthy next year, too, and it adds another element to our group that we didn't have. We've got a good combination right now of young guys with speed and tenacity up front and it's looking good.

Was it good to see Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson play so well and develop into a shutdown pairing?
Yeah, they were fantastic. Obviously watching them last year, you knew they were going to be real good this year coming in and just to see the way they played, especially in the playoffs, is pretty impressive. They're 24 now, turning 25 next year, they're at a point right now where you can really see that they're special players. We're lucky to be able to have those two guys together, two young guys together, playing at that level.

How do you feel physically?
I'm good. You know, wear and tear, maybe just need a tune-up, maybe an oil change. That's a lot of hockey obviously going back to the World Cup and when you think about preparing for the World Cup, starting to train earlier, everything was earlier this year. It's a lot of hockey, but again, I wish I was playing more hockey than I am right now.

Did Vladimir Sobotka provide more than Blues expected?
It didn’t surprise us. We knew he was having success over there. He played in the World Cup, we watched him in the World Cup. He’s still the same player as when he left. It’s an element that he brought that every team wants. He can play in all situations, so it was a great addition there, especially at that point in the season. He was great in the playoffs.

Does it seem like Sobotka is more offensive-minded now since returning from KHL?
Yeah, I think even a guy like 'Schwartzy,' (Jaden Schwartz) those guys who are tenacious on the puck, especially in the offensive zone, they’re going to create chances regardless of who they’re on the ice with or against. He can play in all situations, he played on the power play, he played offensive zone starts, he played shutdown, so he’s a guy that really contributes everywhere.

What does the summer entail for you? Are you going to get away?
Yeah, we'll get away from it a bit, take care of my wife, who's having a baby in December. We'll deal with that for now.