The St. Louis Blues have notified veteran Barret Jackman that he will not be re-signed.
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) June 11, 2015
Jackman, winner of the Calder Trophy and formerly the longest tenured Blue, had spent his entire 13-year career with the Blues and will hit the open market for the first time on July 1. While the prospect of seeing Jackman in another jersey is a strange one I don’t think anyone will really know the impact of his departure until training camp opens in September.
In a post-playoffs interview, after another disappointing first round loss, Jackman told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he wasn’t ready to call it a career:
“I have lots left in me,” he said. “I don’t know, four or five years. I take care of myself away from the rink. The body’s the best it’s felt in years.”
He also expressed interest in finishing his career in St. Louis, but even if he’d been willing to take a pay-cut to stay, Doug Armstrong & Co. decided they’re going in another direction.
The base of the Blues defensive corps is definitively more designed around the hybrid style skaters of modern NHL defensemen. Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are defensemen who can, usually, play very solid defense and special teams, block shots and stymie the opposition around the net while also getting involved in the team’s offense. Jackman represented the rougher, more physical stay-at-home style of another era, but one in which St. Louis needs to be careful not to eliminate completely from their game.
Without Jackman, whether you appreciated his glove-in-the-face tendencies or not, the Blues are light on their skates behind the blue line. Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo rely more on speed and positioning than physicality but are still getting the job done. Unfortunately, their counterparts aren’t. Jay Bouwmeester looked a step behind for much of last season after returning from IR. Carl Gunnersson wouldn’t know how to hit a guy coming down the boards if his team’s life depended on it.
If Armstrong can find a way to bring back a physical defenseman like Robert Bortuzzo Jackman’s exit will be essentially forgotten once the new season begins. IF young, up-and-coming Finnish rookie Petteri Lindbohm performs in camp and makes the Blues roster the team will have the hard-hitting presence to compliment and allow those other guys to jump up into the scoring play as they can, and should. Many fans hoped Lindbohm would remain with the club once the playoffs started this season and believe he already has what it takes to play everyday in the NHL.
As for Jackman, his time in St. Louis will be remembered as one of loyal service. It’s disappointing he couldn’t win a Stanley Cup with the Blues, and I wish him all the luck in landing somewhere that gives him a chance to do so before he retires, but I’m not sorry to see him go. Lucky 13 was enough.