Wednesday, June 28, 2017


HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Blues opened camp for 2017 on Wednesday and will run through Saturday featuring some of the top prospects in town trying to make an impression.

Among the participants include 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson; 2017 first-round picks Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin; hometown goalie and 2015 fifth-round pick Luke Opilka, who was born in Effingham, Ill. but raised in St. Louis; 2014 third-round pick Jake Walman; 2016 second-round pick Jordan Kyrou and others.

Each day, camp consists of off-ice workouts, on-ice skills sessions and scrimmages. Four-on-four and 3-on-3 scrimmages begin at 2:45 p.m. daily, while on-ice skills sessions begin at 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. In addition, goaltenders take the ice for individual skill work starting at 1 p.m. each day.

All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall.

* Internal competition -- Blues general manager Doug Armstrong helped fill one need with the acquisition of Brayden Schenn to the crop of centers on the Blues roster in a deal made with the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of No. 1 picks and Jori Lehtera, but what about replacing right wing David Perron?

The Blues lost Perron and his 18 goals and 46 regular-season points in the expansion draft and to the Vegas Golden Knights last week and now must search for a replacement for Perron's production and his minutes playing in a top-6 role.

With roughly $11.6 remaining in cap space for the season, the Blues will have to allocate those funds accordingly to their restricted free agents, namely defenseman Colton Parayko, and it will leave little money to play with.

So where will Armstrong turn to for a potential replacement?

"I would say right now it's more internally," Armstrong said. "We've got a defenseman we'd like to take care of financially and last time I talked to him, he wasn't ready to play for the love of the game anymore. We're going to make sure, try our hardest to take care of him. He's a big part of our future, too, and it's amazing how quickly the millions add up to a cap number. I would say that we were building to make sure that we had room for him and this year's cap is not fully spoken for, but there's a few million dollars to have laying around. I'm not sure it's going to get to the caliber player maybe some people think is available."

Some notable players that could draw interest for the right price include right wings Justin Williams of Washington and Radim Vrbata of Arizona, the ageless Jaromir Jagr of Florida, Thomas Vanek of Florida, Drew Stafford of Boston and Patrick Sharp of Dallas.

* Fabbri on track -- The rehabilitation on the knee of Robby Fabbri continues to stay on course, and the Blues' first-round pick of 2014 remains on course for the start of training camp.

Fabbri tore the ACL in his left knee Feb. 4 at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins and missed the rest of the season. He underwent successful surgery and has had no setbacks.

"I haven't talked to him in probably three or four weeks, but everything from the training staff, he got a clean bill of health from his doctor that did the surgery," Armstrong said of Fabbri. "He's on a little European vacation right now. I think he's over in Spain and then going to (Alexander) Steen's wedding and then getting back here. 

"I think the guys are really focused on getting back here in mid-July and cranking it up. Robby understands from last year how his season started to guarantee a stronger start, a different approach over the summer I think is going to be necessary and I have zero question that that's going to come. Robby's a pro now and he understands what's needed from him, and he also understands this organization is counting on him. It's one thing to come into training camp with no expectations and no one's counting on you. His teammates know that he has to be a good player for us to be a good team. They're going to hold him as responsible as anyone."

Coach Mike Yeo intends on experimenting Fabbri back at his natural position of center to give the team a multitude of options down the middle, and with Patrik Berglund (dislocated left shoulder) out until December, it might be worth a shot.

"My conversation with Robby was that I wanted to see how it went, but I don't want to ruin his season by taking too long in training camp where it doesn't work and all of the sudden he doesn't have time to feel good about his game going into the season," Yeo said. "Certainly in the early part of camp, that's what we'll be doing. We may bounce back and forth a little bit. It's obviously something that intrigues us. I love his speed. The possibility of having somebody through the middle of the ice that can generate off the rush because of their speed, because of their ability to break away from people and obviously that's very intriguing."

* Butler re-signs for two years -- The Blues signed veteran defenseman and St. Louis native Chris Butler to a two-year, two-way contract on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Butler appeared in 72 games for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League last season and registered 26 points (five goals, 21 assists); he played in one game (the regular-season finale against Colorado) for the Blues last season.

Butler, who attended Chaminade High School with Paul Stastny, has dressed in 388 career NHL regular-season games and has 84 points (13 goals, 71 assists).

Butler was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.

Blues lose Berglund with shoulder dislocation

Center injured training in Sweden, will be reevaluated 
in December; acquisition of Schenn even more important now

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues' acquisition for Brayden Schenn was supposed to fortify their center ice position moving into the 2017-18 season.

The Blues acquired the 25-year-old from the Philadelphia Flyers in a draft-day trade last Friday for a package that included fellow center Jori Lehtera and two first-round picks.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Patrik Berglund (21) will be sidelined until December after dislocating
his left shoulder recently training in Sweden.

But now with the news that the Blues will be without Patrik Berglund until December after it was discovered that the center dislocated his left shoulder while training in Sweden, Schenn's acquisition adds even more meaning to a team in need of another body down the middle of the ice, especially one that provides scoring punch.

The Blues announced on Wednesday that Berglund had successful surgery but will be sidelined for five-plus months, at which time general manager Doug Armstrong said Berglund will be reevaluated.

"We flew him back here on Sunday night, he saw our doctors on Monday and the news was what we thought it might be, a shoulder injury, and a shoulder surgery on Tuesday morning," Armstrong said. "Everything went very well. The doctors and Patrik are happy with the result but with that result comes a timetable. We'll re-evaluate him in early December to see where he's at. We're hoping to get him back sometime in that time frame."

It's the opposite shoulder Berglund injured late in the 2013-14 season. But what it now does is add to the urgency of adding Schenn, who along with Paul Stastny should add a 1-2 punch as the top two centers on the team moving into the season. And it gives the Blues options as to who will round out the position and who will compete for them.

"We'll move someone into the middle now. You could go with Stastny, and then Schenn and then you have an option to put (Vladimir) Sobotka back in there, (Ivan) Barbashev's played in there, the young player we got from Pittsburgh (in the Ryan Reaves trade) is a centerman, (Oskar) Sundqvist, that's the role he can play. We have some internal options. We'll explore those. 

"The timing is never great to have an injury but getting him to do that rehab now for a couple months while we're not playing, getting into training camp and giving some of the younger guys a little bit of a look should clear up a little bit of where we're at starting the second half of the season. It doesn't really affect what we're doing free-agency wise because it's a cap system, Patrik counts against our cap on opening day and we expect him back in December, so if we went into (long-term injury) on that day, barring any other injuries, we'd have to shave off whatever amount we're over by December 1st, so we're always looking to see if we can get creative with different ways, but right now, we're talking to some potential free agents but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up that there will be a lot of changes in this roster."

Coach Mike Yeo will have even more options at his disposal and will utilize every available one given to him.

Even ... Robby Fabbri, who is on target to start training camp after tearing his left ACL last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We're going to try guys like (Zach) Sanford in the middle, we're going to try Robby in the middle for a little bit of training camp," Yeo said. "Alex Steener's been playing a little bit of center for us and he did a great job in the playoffs. We've got 'Sobe' ... he wasn't real comfortable in coming back as far as coming from the big ice surface getting used to the NHL game, he wasn't real comfortable, felt a little bit more comfortable coming in playing the wing. But coming in at the start of the season, I think he'll be comfortable in that position, too. We've got plenty of people that can fill in in that area and certainly don't feel that we're going to be weak. We've got 'Barby,' we've got 'Brodzy' (Kyle Brodziak) and obviously we've got 'Stas' there. We've got personnel and options."

Acquiring Schenn now was imperative for the Blues, who were looking for a 1-2 punch of offensive talent to complement what would have likely been a tandem of Berglund and Sobotka battling for third-line center minutes and Brodziak anchoring the fourth line.

"What I know is obviously as a player what he is. Coaching against him, seeing the competitor that he is, seeing the way that he scores goals, he contributes at really both ends of the ice," Yeo said of Schenn. "What you learn after you start doing some digging is what a character player and person he is and what a great teammate he's going to be for our group. It's a huge get for us."
(Philadelphia Flyers photo)
Acquiring Brayden Schenn (10) even larger for Blues now that Patrik
Berglund is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Schenn is entering the prime years of his career at 25 (turns 26 on August 22), and after scoring 25 goals last season and 26 in 2015-16 and adding 63 of his 139 career assists the past two seasons with the Flyers, the Blues believe they're getting a player who has the potential to be even better.

"Obviously he can score on the power play, he has a net-front presence, he can shoot from the slot," Armstrong said of Schenn, who has three years and a $5.125  average annual value remaining on his contract. "He's only 25 years old, turning 26 into training camp. His last two years I think have been his most productive. He looks like he's settling into that level of player, we're hoping maybe with the opportunity with a new group there might be another level to his game. But we're excited because he fits into that age bracket with a (Alex) Pietrangelo, with a (Vladimir) Tarasenko, with a (Jaden) Schwartz. We have some younger players, like a Robby Fabbri who's been here for a couple years, I don't put him in with that grouping, just because of his age, not because of what he's accomplished. He helps us, he helps our scoring in that area. I think we're going to score by committee; Tarasenko's obviously the lead horse in that area and the more guys who can help chip in, not only relieves the pressure, that adds more goals to him because they have to focus not on one player but on two or three."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Blues stay course, make four picks on final day of draft

Team takes three defensemen among picks; Armstrong said no 
progress yet on Parayko contract, has had discussions with player's agent

ST. LOUIS -- Doug Armstrong stuck to his word that the Blues would likely be status quo on Saturday in the second and final day of the 2017 NHL Draft.

The Blues had four selections, one each in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds after holding no picks in the second and third rounds.

The Blues made their noise on Friday when they acquired centers Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist in separate deals with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Alexey Toropchenko

The Blues acquired Schenn for center Jori Lehtera, a first-round pick (No. 27) on Friday and a conditional first-round pick in 2018, then flipped Reaves and a second-round pick (No. 51) in Saturday's second round for Sundqvist and the Penguins' first round pick (No. 31) on Friday night.

The Blues used their first first-round selection (20th) on center Robert Thomas, then grabbed Russian left wing/center Klim Kostin, who many believe could have been a top-five pick had he not sustained a shoulder injury last year.

The Blues took their turn in the fourth round with the 113th pick and selected another Russian, right wing Alexey Toropchenko, who had 19 goals and 12 assists in 49 games last season with MVD Balashikha 2 of the Russia Junior League. 

Toropchenko, whose father Leonid was drafted by the Penguins with the 260th pick in 1993, will turn 18 on Sunday and is listed as 6-foot-3, 187 pounds; his stock rose from a mid-term ranking of 63 to a final ranking of 21 according to Central Scouting.

The Blues took one of three defensemen to finish the draft by selecting David Noel in the fifth round (No. 130), a 6-1, 175-pound blue liner who split last season with Chicoutimi and Val-D'Or of the QMJHL; he had three goals and 11 assists in 36 games with Chicoutimi and eight goals and 10 assists in 29 games with Val-D'Or.

"I'm an offensive-defenseman with a great shot, great first pass," Noel said on the team's website. "I think I have to work a bit on my skating, mobility and defensive side.

"Too much emotion. You can't describe this moment."

The second of three defensemen went in the sixth round (No. 175) by grabbing 6-2, 200-pound Trenton Bourque, whose uncle Dan Maloney played in 737 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs where he had 192 goals and 259 assists.

Bourque, 19, skated the past two seasons for Owen Sound of the OHL and had 11 assists in 67 games last season.

And with their final pick, the Blues chose 6-3, 216-pound defenseman Anton Andersson of Sweden. 

Andersson, 18, split the 2016-17 season with Lulea Jr. of the Sweden Junior League and Lulea U18 of the Sweden Junior U18 League; he had two goals and one assist in 13 games for Lulea Jr. and nine goals and 12 assists in 19 games for Sweden-Jr. U-18.

* NOTES -- Armstrong said that the immediate focus for the Blues now is to get to work on signing their restricted free agents, including defenseman Colton Parayko.

The 24-year-old Parayko, the Blues' 2012 third-round draft pick, just finished up a two-year, $1.85 million contract and he is a restricted free agent.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Colton Parayko is a restricted free agent on July 1 and 
the Blues are making it a priority to get him signed. 

Armstrong said after the Blues' exit meetings that Parayko would be a primary focus heading into the offseason and he'd like to get him signed, most likely before Parayko becomes susceptible to offer sheets on July 1.

Parayko is coming off a season in which he had four goals and 31 assists in 81 regular-season games after nine goals and 24 assists his rookie year of 2015-16.

When asked if there was progress, Armstrong said, "No, and not a concern that there isn't. I talked to his representative (Gerry Johannson) and we wanted to wait to see what the salary cap was. It wasn't going to reflect our desire to sign him, but a flat cap might have been going on a bridge deal. Now there's maybe some more options to look at longer term because the cap did increase a little bit (to $75 million). 

"Colton's a priority and whether it's a one-year, two-year deal or long-term deal, the length of the contract has no reflection of the value that we have of him as a long-term player. It's just talking about a cap system and making sure that he feels comfortable and we can function."

The Blues are currently $10.9 million under the cap.

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 

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:

"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:

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

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: 

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.
1 -- WASHINGTON, 2 p.m.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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.

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.
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

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."