The St. Louis Blues were quite active at the Entry Draft and on July 1st, adding several new faces to their lineup up front while subtracting a couple notable faces.
St. Louis Blues Focus On Forward Depth In Off-Season
General Manager Doug Armstrong started at the NHL Draft in late June. They acquired Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers dumping Jori Lehtera‘s $4.7 million cap hit in the process. It costed them a first round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional first rounder in next year’s. Despite this, they were still able to land a skilled winger in the first round of the draft after trading Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their first round pick (31st overall) that netted them Klim Kostin, who signed his entry-level contract on July 5th.
When July 1st rolled around, the team signed Beau Bennett, the 25-year-old and former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was inked on a one year deal worth $650,000. Bennett is set to add some forward depth and is coming off his best season points-wise with the New Jersey Devils where he scored 8 goals and 19 points in a season where the oft-injured forward suited up for 65 contests, the most in a single season for him in his career thus far. St. Louis added grit as they felt they couldn’t lose the edge that Reaves brought, signing 34-year old Chris Thorburn on a two-year deal worth $900,000.
St. Louis also signed restricted free agent Oskar Sundqvist to a one-year deal worth $650,000. Sundqvist was picked up from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the trade for Reaves. Sundqvist appeared in 10 games this past season for the Penguins and is expected to be a contributor this season. After a shoulder injury to center Patrik Berglund that will keep him out until December, it appears the Blues will give the 23-year old Swede every opportunity to take a spot at center in the bottom six.
Keeping Financial Space
The Blues were rumored to be talking to a number of other free agents, notably Joe Thornton, rumored to be making his way to the Gateway City. However the Blues decided to add depth to other positions up front and leave around $8 million in cap space to lock up a premier young blue liner in Colton Parayko.
Parayko has been a strong contributor for the Blues the last two seasons, averaging a 52.8% Corsi-for percentage to go along with two 30-plus point campaigns. At only 24 years old he has plenty of room to grow as a player and this bodes well if St. Louis can re-sign him long-term. Parayko has filed for arbitration giving the two sides a longer period of time to make a deal.
It seems as though after trading for Schenn and adding these other pieces up front that head coach Mike Yeo’s group appears to be set for training camp in the fall in the efforts to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.