How many years does it take to learn? How many bad signings with huge undeserved contracts need to be dealt before people realize that sometimes your team doesn’t need to sign every free agent they talk to?
It is very easy for us as fans to sit back and say “sign this guy” or “go after this one”, when in reality most fans are very misguided. Up until this year I was “that guy”. The guy who just stated the players he wanted as if everyone wasn’t saying the same thing. As a fan-base you want the best players. I mean who wouldn’t want a starting line of Steven Stamkos, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen? As fans, it’s easy to think up of these dream line ups.
Being that fans that we are however, it is also easy to get upset when your team doesn’t make a big sign. Or to be mad at a former player like when Albert Pujols left the Cardinals for the Angels. I used to be a fan like this. A fan who wanted my team to sign every good free agent while keeping their stars intact. But I have found that the biggest deals that happen in the offseason, tend to be the ones that teams don’t make.
This last weekend the St Louis Blues lost long time captain David Backes to the Boston Bruins in free agency. The Blues knew it was coming, the media knew it was coming, and the fans knew it was coming. It was a sad day here in St Louis. Our captain is gone.
As fans, we prepared ourselves for this outcome. I loved to seeing David Backes in St Louis. I also love the $30 million we saved by not signing the weathered 32-year-old with a hard playing style. Most fans were upset that David had to leave, but not angry.
It wasn’t until the Blues failed to sign Troy Brouwer, that the fans became truly angry. We lost our captain and the feeling was that if we lost Backes then we would keep Brouwer and vice versa. Now the Blues have lost two players with the grit that this team longs for. Now what?
The Blues’ front office responded by signing David Perron, the former Blue, to a two-year contract – a signing that has some mixed opinions. I personally don’t mind it. He is a veteran player who can put the puck in the net and adds depth.
The Blues, even with losing Backes and Brouwer, have their core. Build around Tarasenko is what seems to be the plan and its a plan that makes a lot of sense I might add.
The main focus for the Blues this offseason should be signing Jaden Schwartz to a long term deal. If a deal can be reached then the Blues have two forwards that even the fan-base knows we can rely on in Schwartz and Tarasenko.
Not signing Backes to a long deal worth a lot of money and not signing Brouwer to a longer deal, the Blues have saved some cap space to make a deal happen with Schwartz. I personally believe this deal will happen before both sides have to report to Toronto for arbitration following Schwartz’s issue for a hearing.
Once this deal is done I believe the focus should be turned to a different upcoming free agent. A player who has one year left on his deal and is one of the best two-way players in hockey – Alexander Steen.
With the surprisingly productive year of Robby Fabbri, the Blues would be wise to sign Steen to a longer deal. Fabbri has a two way playing style that mirrors Steen. The signing of Steen would be beneficial in the fact that he can put up some points and can be a mentor to Fabbri who could learn a lot from an already established player such as Steen.
The Blues are young and this last season enjoyed breakout seasons from young players such as Fabbri, Colton Parayko, and Joel Edmundson. These young players also have the benefit of gaining post season experience after a very impressive playoff push to the Western Conference Finals. The future is bright for this young team. A team that would be nice to keep together for a long while.
So before you become upset with the franchise for losing Backes and Brouwer just remember what the Blues have in young talent. The talent is there and now that the Blues haven’t blown all their salary on older, worn-out players, they have a chance to chase the cup for several years.