Take heart, Blues fans having a panic attack over whether or not the Blues' UFA/RFA dealings have been sufficient. The Central Division won't be the same next year... call it some fortuitous addition by subtraction for the Blues. Shea Weber signed a 14 year ginormous offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers last night, and if the Nashville Predators can't/won't match, then Weber's off to the Atlantic Division. This means quite a bit for the Central.
It means it's not the hardest division in the NHL anymore. Not just Weber's possible departure, but the whole damn summer. Here, witness:
- With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber no longer a part of the Nashville Predators, that might make it tougher for Rinne to constantly shut out the Blues 1-0 (note the word "might." I have full faith that Rinne can still do this). At the very least, it makes the Preds less of a threat to play against.
- The Blackhawks, while still a threat thanks to their firepower, have a goaltending tandem that's easily exploited.
- The Detroit Red Wings have lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart both (but hey, Kyle Quincey!) and they could also lose Tomas Holmstrom, who is a constant pain in St. Louis' ass. And oh, Jonas Gustavsson as backup. This has not been their best off-season in Hockey Town.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets will still be not very good, and might be not very good without Rick Nash.
So, there you go. Before anyone freaks out about how the Blues didn't throw insane amounts of cash at an UFA defenseman or how they lost out on Zach Parise (again, that wasn't going to happen anyway), here. Just look at the rest of the division. The Blues've basically maintained the status quo from a division winning team that finished third in the NHL. They'll probably continue the SQ by re-signing Carlo Colaiacovo, and Vladimir Tarasenko will be a blast to watch hopefully.
Calm down. The Blues might not've gotten better, but this isn't the Central of just a few seasons ago.
it's still too soon to predict the woes of the other teams though. Columbus is a huge question mark. Depending on what the Jackets get in return for him may kickstart the team upwards (remember the lowly Nordiques got a crazy good return for Lindros and those players won the cup 4 years later). Detroit is one of the places that Nash is willing to go, so they are a question mark too. I expect them to at least sign another defenseman before camp. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Gustavsson steals Howard's starting job somewhere not so far down the line. Chicago could end up getting Luongo or Bernier via trade (both want to relocate), so they are a question mark as well. unless they fix that huge hole Suter (and potentially Weber) left, Nashville definitely won't be first or second next season, but where exactly depends on what the other teams do in the next two months. like I said, it's to early to speculate