Five more years of helmet farts!
I've taken an unfortunate break from Blues blogging, what with all of the madness that are Thrashers relocation rumors. Common sense has gone out the window surrounding the Thrashers/Winnipeg Whatevers - not that the franchise ever had any to begin with. People telling Thrashers fans to "get over it" less than a week after they lost their team, name calling on message boards and blogs because you disagree with a point of view... being 12 years old and never seeing a Jets game in your life but still feeling the need to laugh at Atlanta fans and play economic professor (high demand = high price until you realize that the product is average to inferior, then demand decreases and prices and attendance drop - trust me, we in Atlanta know EXACTLY how that works). Yeah, when you have people crowing on message boards that they're paying $6,000 for six games to go see the Atlanta Thrashers, who are automatically more awesome now that they're in CANADA!, you know that common sense is out the window.
This is why it's so pleasant to shift my attention back to St. Louis. Sure, the Blues might be looking for some owners, but they're not going anywhere - selling out 40 of 41 games last season helps with that. They know the assets that they have and are willing to lock them up because they believe in their team and their team philosophy. Hell, they have a team philosophy. I love the Thrashers, but other than "try not to lose as many games this year, ok?" did the organization even ponder the idea of a philosophy? A motto? Anything? Poor ownership and an easily confused front office'll do that.
The Blues' front office, though, is locked in. John Davidson re-signed a contract extension as team president, and General Manager Doug Armstrong is proactive at locking up RFAs before July 1st. What a list of RFAs the Blues have, too. Before this week's locking up of key pieces, these were the guys who were RFAs: Patrik Berglund, TJ Oshie, BJ Crombeen, Vladimir Sobotka, Matt D'Agostini, Ryan Reaves, Roman Polak, and Nikita Nikitin. Quite a core little group of guys, no?
Luckily, the Blues felt the need to secure some of their places on the team. The first was Patrik Berglund. After a dominating performance in which he scored 8 goals and two assists to finish with a +7 rating (and finished second in scoring), as well as a much improved season last year that saw career highs in goals (22) and assists (30), the Blues could not let a chance to get him re-upped pass. They re-signed him for two more seasons at a cap hit of $2,250,000 a year. Upon expiration of his current contract, he's still an RFA, which means he can re-sign for an extended period of time and push back when he tests the UFA waters.
The next guys to be locked in were Roman Polak and Vladimir Sobotka. Polak got a hefty contract extension of five years at $2,750,000 a season. He's a great shut down, stay at home defenseman who has been more than reliable for the Blues. Also, he hasn't been injury prone except when Sidney Crosby tries to give him a hand-ectomy, so that's a plus as well. The Blues' penalty kill, who went from 1st in the league in 2009-2010 to 21st last season thanks to the loss of Mike Weaver, needs more shut down guys like Polak if they want to rebound and be successful.
Vladimir Sobotka was acquired from the Boston Bruins for the rights to defenseman David Warsofsky last off-season, and what a one-way lopsided deal that was. Sobe, playing mostly 3rd and 4th line minutes, scored 7 goals and 22 assists and was a key source of energy for the Blues while Oshie was out with a broken ankle. The Blues haven't yet locked up Sobotka, but are believed to be working on a three year contract extension.
So, after Vodka, who do the Blues get re-signed. Common sense says "Oshie!" because he's a fan favorite, the team's energy core, and he has so much potential. He also showed himself to be a bit of an immature flake last season, but hopefully that will fix itself with age. Matt D'Agostini, though, would be my bet for the next to get re-signed. The negotiations probably won't be as complicated as Oshie's and with 21 goals (25 assists) the former Hab has finally become what people expected him to be. Probably more so. He finished third on the team in goals behind David Backes and Berglund, and finished with a +8. Add in the fact that he's generally a healthy guy - he played all 82 games last season - and he's yet another core piece of the team that the Blues swiped from Montreal.