The St. Louis Blues, like every other team in the NHL, are looking at their salary cap and personnel with expiring contracts and trying to make the best decision for their franchise moving forward.
There are a few players on the Blues roster from the 2015-16 season that have collectively had a large impact on the team. Some of them might be playing for the Note come October, but the rest will inevitably be departing the Gateway City.
Troy Brouwer was acquired just under a year ago, via trade with the Washington Capitals, for TJ Oshie and he has yet to come to terms with a new deal in St. Louis. No. 36 had 32 points (18G, 21A) in 82 regular season games for the Blues last season, and another 13 points (8G, 5A) in their 20 postseason games.
Brouwer has been a versatile player for the team and has proven himself capable of playing in a variety of situations. He’s responsible in all three zones and he has the grit and physicality the Blues thrive on.
Compared to other free agents the Blues are deciding between, he makes the most sense with a reasonable $3.67 million salary average over the last three years considering his contributions to the team.
He’s 30 years old and still has good skating ability, and the fact that they traded away a good player in Oshie to acquire him makes Brouwer a good bet for the Blues to re-sign.
Arguably the biggest free agent in St. Louis is the captain, David Backes. He’s played the entirety of his ten-year NHL career with the Blues, and has been wearing the “C” since 2011.
Backes has scored 460 points (206G, 254A) in 727 appearances for St. Louis, but his time in blue may be coming to an end.
There has been very limited conversation in the media about Backes and the Blues working on a contract and with free agency period right around the corner, they’re running out of time.
The reason St. Louis might have not been able to get a trade done before the trade deadline last spring may very well be attributed to his full no-trade clause that has been in effect since the 2013-14 campaign.
Backes is 32 years old and his most effective NHL season was back in 2010-11 when he scored 62 points. While his best offensive days may very well be behind him, he provides grit that the Blues’ system depends on to be productive.
With that said, he isn’t the only one who can be physical, and with his most recent contract costing the Blues an average of $4.5 million annually, he may no longer make financial sense with the team.
As one of the last remaining true agitators in the game, Steve Ott has been an effective player for St. Louis in his two years with the organization. However, injuries have plagued his last few seasons and limited him to just 21 games during the 2015-16 regular season and nine postseason appearances.
Combined he scored a mere three points in the regular season and the playoffs for the Blues, further establishing his reputation as an enforcer as opposed to an offensive threat.
While Steve Ott is a physical player with an edge to his game that is rivaled by few in the league, he and his expiring contract, with a cap hit of $2.6 million, no longer makes sense for the team. It is no longer acceptable to be a one-dimensional player in the NHL, and as great as Ott can be, he is no longer the offensive player he was in his prime.
Despite his dedication to the game and ability to aggravate his opposition, Ott’s offensive production has been on a steady decline since he joined the Blues and his fate with the team is anything but official.
The Blues are a team that is on the rise and is hoping to clinch a Stanley Cup in the next few years. For that to be possible, though, they must have the best players on their roster.
While the contributions of every Blues player is appreciated, the offseason is the time to make tough decisions that will inevitably change the make-up of the team.
If St. Louis can manage to acquire a draft pick for negotiating rights to some of the players they have no intention of re-signing, that would be an incredible feat. If not, they can part ways knowing they did what was best for the team in its entirety.
Who do you think the Blues will keep around? Leave your thoughts in the comments.