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St. Louis Blues Roster Changes Leave Room for Questions

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After bowing out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a second-round series that was essentially the Western Conference Final, the future looked optimistic for the St. Louis Blues. They were the second-best team in the Western Conference all season long and it appeared their Stanley Cup window was still open.

After the NHL Entry Draft and the free agent frenzy, the future is not quite as clear for St. Louis. On paper, the Blues roster appears to be worse off at forward and in net while remaining unchanged defensively. The team still projects to be playoff bound in 2022-23, but the future beyond next season does not look quite as clear as most Blues fans would like. There are several questions concerning the direction of the St. Louis Blues roster and it is unclear whether answers will come between now and the start of training camp in September.

Why didn’t they re-sign Perron?

At the end of the season, comments made by both David Perron and Blues management indicated that Perron’s pending unrestricted free agency was a non-story. It was assumed the two sides would be able to come together for a deal to seal the return of the fan-favorite winger, and that he would return to the Blues roster for another season. Of course, this ended up not being the case as Perron ended up signing a two-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. So what happened to cause this unlikely divorce?

The day after signing his deal with Detroit, Perron went on to 101 ESPN Radio in St. Louis where he revealed that a formal offer from the Blues was never given to him or his agent. It was obvious the player wanted to remain a Blue and potentially finish his career in the city where it all started. But after three stints with the club that included a Stanley Cup title, the Perron era in St. Louis officially ended, leaving many Blues fans wondering how an All-Star calibre player who wanted to play in St. Louis was ultimately shown the exit.

What will they do with Tarasenko?

In Perron’s case, we have a situation in which a player wanted to stay and was not given the option. In the case of Vladimir Tarasenko, we have a player who requested a trade last summer and was kept for one more season as his market value was at an all-time low. Tarasenko responded with a bounce-back season for the ages, setting career highs in both assists and points while regaining his scoring form. It has been reported that even after last season’s success, Tarasenko has not rescinded his trade request. With one more year on his contract before hitting unrestricted free agency, why hasn’t Tarasenko been moved?

As a perennial playoff contender, the Blues are up against the salary cap. Getting Tarasenko’s $7.5 million cap hit off the books would go a long way in improving the team for the future. After losing former captain Alex Pietrangelo via unrestricted free agency in 2020, St. Louis cannot afford to lose another star player without receiving anything in return. It’s time to either extend Tarasenko, which appears unlikely given that he has not rescinded his trade request, or they need to make a deal and get something for the star winger while getting him off the Blues roster while they still can.

Was trading for Tkachuk ever in the cards?

Speaking of superstar wingers who wanted out of their situations, Matthew Tkachuk has been the talk of the NHL for the past week, particularly in his hometown of St. Louis. The son of St. Louis Blues legend Keith Tkachuk, Matthew informed the Calgary Flames he was not going to re-sign with them long-term, and many in St. Louis acted like it was a foregone conclusion that he would end up wearing the blue note next season.

Of course, this didn’t materialize as Tkachuk was dealt to the Florida Panthers on Friday in a blockbuster deal that included 2021-22 Hart Trophy finalist Jonathan Huberdeau going to Calgary and Tkachuk signing a monster deal with the Panthers for eight years and a $9.5 million cap hit. The Blues simply could not compete with the trade package offered by Florida and it is unlikely they would be able to match the contract given out by the Panthers. So was a trade for Tkachuk ever a real possibility for the Blues? Or were fans and local media trying to speak it into existence?

These are only a few of the questions surrounding the St. Louis Blues roster and their offseason moves. While they should still qualify for the playoffs in 2022-23, they are undoubtedly worse off than they were a year ago which leads one to wonder whether their championship window has closed.

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