Meet the New Blues

The St. Louis Blues were strapped financially this offseason due to the flat cap that was imposed by the league in 2020. Faced with many tough decisions, general manager Doug Armstrong had to part ways with fan favorites in David Perron, Ville Husso, and Charlie Lindgren alongside notable depth pieces Tyler Bozak, Dakota Joshua, and Mackenzie MacEachern. On the positive, he re-signed Robert Thomas to a franchise record-setting extension, brought back midseason addition Nick Leddy, as well as depth forward Nathan Walker. Alongside this list of familiar names, the Blues were able to bring in a few new names to help fill out the depth of the 2022-23 roster.

Noel Acciari

At one-year, $1.25 million, forward Noel Acciari was arguably the Blues’ most significant free-agent addition this offseason. Many Blues fans were already familiar with Acciari due to his time with the Boston Bruins and the infamous “trip” in Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final that was never called. Since that time, he has spent the last three seasons with the Florida Panthers. During his time with Florida, he put up a 20-goal season (2019-20), a career high. Following his first season in South Beach, he spent the next two seasons as more of a role-playing depth forward. His biggest claim to fame from his time there may be his earning of the nickname “Cookie.”

For the Blues, it seems likely that Acciari will slot into the lineup as the fourth-line center. At 5-foot-10 and 209 pounds, he’s rarely ever going to be the biggest guy on the ice. However, he plays with a tenacity that the Blues have been lacking in their bottom six with a willingness to get physical when needed. He will be centering the fourth line on most nights, which is why he is, at this point, the Blues’ most significant free-agent signing from this summer.

Thomas Greiss

Unfortunately for the Blues, they were not going to be in a position to re-sign restricted free agent (RFA) goaltender Ville Husso. Due to his breakout season significantly raising his price tag, the Blues dealt him to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for draft capital. With Jordan Binnington still in the fold as the undisputed starter, the Blues were in need of a backup in net. Insert Thomas Greiss.

Related: 4 Blues Who WIll Be Under the Microscope for the 2022-23 Season

The signing of Greiss to a one-year, $1.25 million contract wasn’t one of the more highly rated moves made this offseason. His numbers last season were subpar — 31 games, .891 save percentage (SV%), 3.66 goals-against average (GAA). He largely was not depended on last season in Detroit, serving as the primary backup to Alex Nedeljkovic. At 36 years old, Greiss’ one-year deal is likely going to be typical for him going forward as he is in the twilight of his career. His best days are surely behind him. The hope for the Blues is that Binnington will regain his previous form and Greiss will not be relied upon for more than 20-30 games.

Josh Leivo

At 29 years old, Josh Leivo has bounced around the league for a while without staking a real claim with one team. But don’t let that take away from what he accomplished this past season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Chicago Wolves (Carolina Hurricanes affiliate). In 54 regular season games, he put up a solid 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists). In the Calder Cup Playoffs, against the Blues’ own AHL affiliate the Springfield Thunderbirds, he posted a league-leading 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 18 games, leading the Wolves to a Calder Cup while earning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.

Josh Leivo Carolina Hurricanes
Josh Leivo with the Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

On the back of that performance, the Blues brought him in on a one-year, one-way contract at the league minimum of $750,000. The hope is that he can help fill out the depth of the bottom-six forwards. At this stage in his career, Leivo is a relatively known commodity. He’s played in 214 total regular-season games over nine seasons between four teams — Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Carolina Hurricanes. In that time, he’s scored 77 total points (38 goals, 39 assists). His best season came in 2018-19 where he posted 14 goals and 10 assists in 76 games between Toronto and Vancouver. He’s going to get a chance to fill in the fourth line for the Blues in 2022-23.

Martin Frk

Martin Frk is the only player featured on this list to have signed a two-way contract (one-year). In the same vein as Leivo, Frk is a veteran AHL player with some NHL time under his belt that was brought in to ensure depth along the bottom six. A former second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2012, he’s seen action in 124 regular-season games in parts of six seasons with the Hurricanes, Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings. He has registered 20 goals and 21 assists during his time in the NHL, but his AHL stats have been much more impressive. Last season with the Ontario Reign (Kings’ AHL affiliate), Frk led the team in goals (40) and was second both in assists (33) and points (73). He also put up five points (two goals, three assists) in their five playoff games.

Frk is perhaps most famous for recording the hardest shot in AHL history. At the 2020 AHL All-Star Skills Competition, he took part in the Hardest Shot event. In this event, he broke Zdeno Chara’s legendary record from 2012 of 108.8 miles-per-hour with a slap-shot that came in at 109.2 miles-per-hour. With a shot like that, he’s got a chance to stick around in St. Louis as either a fourth liner or stashed as a healthy scratch. If the team feels like he needs to play every night, then he’ll likely start the season with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Related: Blues Season Preview

The Blues brought in a handful of other players on two-way contracts to help fill out their roster in Springfield that have a chance at playing in St. Louis at some point in the season. With their limited cap resources, the team was forced to focus on strengthening their overall depth more so than reeling in a big name (although they tried to obtain Matthew Tkachuk). At this point in the offseason, barring an unexpected trade, the Blues’ roster appears set with these four players having the greatest chances of being their highest impact acquisitions.