Hitchcock reunites defensive pair of Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester to carry workload.
Veteran who hasn't scored a goal in 28 games with the Blues is now playing on a line with Backes and Oshie.
#HockeyFightsCancer got underway Tuesday and will run through Nov. 17.
Fellow center Lehtera, recovering from flu, should be ready Thursday.
Rookie shared the lead in shots on goal Sunday with four.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free-agent Scott Nichol.
The deal is reportedly a one-way, one-year deal worth $600,000 with an additional $100,000 available in bonuses. Nichol was a member of the San Jose Sharks for the last two seasons.
The 36-year old center will step into the club as the oldest member on the roster. His veteran presence and leadership qualities were likely the main factors as to why the Blues felt he deserved a contract. He has played in nine NHL-seasons, contributing 52 goals, 66 assists and 118 points. Nichol has also been known to throw the body around as well, posting 808 penalty minutes in just 552 career NHL games.
Nichol will help solidify the center-position for the Blues, as they now have that all-important checking-line center. He will probably see a lot of ice-time with forwards B.J. Crombeen and youngster Philip McRae.
Not only can Nichol knock some heads around, but he is also well-known for being a face-off specialist. For players that took over 20 face-offs last season, Nichol ranked first on his team in face-off percentage (won 288 face-offs out of 485 total; 59.4%). The Blues were not impressive in the face-off circle by any means last season. They ranked 28th in the league with a dreadful 47.3% (the league-leader, Vancouver, finished with a 54.9%). It is very likely Nichol will be used in many situations to get that percentage up.
This weekend is all the proof I need to know that Blues GM Doug Armstrong checks LetsGoBlues.com on a daily basis.
On Wednesday, I wrote an article declaring what the Blues still had to do before July was over. Almost all of these have been met in just this past weekend. You can read the full article here.
This article had five requirements that the Blues had to meet in order to be successful in 2011-12. Let’s revisit these, shall we?
1. Qualified RFAs have to accept offers.
This requirement has not officially come to fruition… yet. A great step for this was when T.J. Oshie and Armstrong worked out a new deal that will keep Oshie in St. Louis for one more season. The one-year contract will pay Oshie $2.35 million next season, which is slightly higher than what Patrick Berglund ($2.25M) and David Perron ($2.15M) will make. Some feel that the Blues failed in getting Oshie locked up long-term; I do not agree. Oshie had troubles with reporting to practice last season which resulted in a two-game team-suspension. I expect Armstrong mentioned this during negotiations with Oshie and his agent, Matt Oates. This short deal will let the Blues assess Oshie’s worth for one more season and see if he can behave under the Blues’ policies. Signing players to long contracts while not officially having an owner is not a smart business move anyway.
The Blues still have Ben Bishop and Ryan Reaves sitting in the free-agent pool as restricted free-agents.
2. Fill the backup goaltender spot.
With Oshie signing an extension yesterday, all eyes were set on Matt D’Agostini.
The 24-year old was a huge part of the Blues’ offense last season, surprisingly contributing 21 goals, 25 assists and 46 points in 82 games last season, all being career-highs.
News broke Monday morning that the Blues did not qualify D’Agostini, meaning that he would become an unrestricted free-agent as of 11:00 CDT Friday morning, making him available to all other 29 NHL teams. Blues GM Doug Armstrong worked out a deal shortly after D'Agostini became a free-agent, voiding that possibility. Reportedly, the deal is a two-year contract that will keep him on the Blues’ roster until the end of the 2012-13 season. The deal will reportedly pay D'Agostini $1.5 million next season and $1.8 million the following season.
The hole that D’Agostini would have left in the lineup would have been tougher to fill than most would expect. D’Agostini is a depth-player who will likely see a lot of time on the Blues’ checking line. Having a 21 goal-scorer that low on your depth chart is never a bad thing.
T.J. Oshie signs a one-year, $2.35 million contract
Blues fans can rest easy tonight; the fan-favorite has officially agreed to terms with the Blues before July 1.
The Blues forward was qualified to an offer earlier in the week, meaning he would be able to accept offers from all other 29 teams starting tomorrow. The Blues would have the option to match the offer but with the ownership situation in question, the team may not have been able to match an offer they deemed to be too much money. Oshie signing a new contract today eliminates any chances of that happening.
The contract is just a one-year deal, but it does make sense. While Oshie is a young star that the Blues will want to lock up long-term in the future, this gives the Blues one more season to assess Oshie’s worth. After a season that saw an injury keep Oshie from the lineup for 33 games (ankle), Oshie will look to prove that he deserves a longer contract. The 24-year old center also received a suspension from the club for missing practice one day. If Oshie can stay healthy and avoid the need for disciplinary action from the team, he will get a hefty contract extension next summer.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong, as well as Oshie himself, seemed very happy with the deal.
It’s no secret that the St. Louis Blues cannot expect to head into 2011-12 with their current roster. Players have to be re-signed and other changes have to be made.
T.J. Oshie is still basically unsigned, while the backup goaltender role and many positions spots are currently vacant. Here are the top-5 things that need to take place in order for the Blues to be a competitive team in 2011-12:
1. Qualified RFAs have to accept offers.
It was announced on Monday that the Blues had sent qualifying offers to T.J. Oshie, Ryan Reaves and Ben Bishop. What does this mean? Oshie would make about $892,500 (a $42,500 raise), Reaves would make $588,500 next season (a $53,500 raise) and Bishop would earn around $892,500 (a $42,500 raise). While each player would receive more money if they accept these offers, it is doubtful that all three would commit to the Blues on such a miniscule raise. All three players are available to receive offer-sheets from other teams come July 1, meaning that the Blues could lose these three players if the player decides to accept the offer-sheet (if the Blues decide not to match the offer). Reaves would not be a major loss to this club, but Bishop is slated to be the next backup to Halak and Oshie is an important element to the offense. The Blues need to continue talks with these players and get a deal worked out soon.