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The St. Louis Blues finished dead last in the NHL this season for the first time in their franchise history. It is also only the third time that they have failed to reach the playoffs in a given year. So what are they doing about it?
Well, for starters, the club has been sold. Dave Checketts, accompanied by another investor, has purchased the club and will begin operations in June. That means that Dave steps in right in time for the draft and free agency. In terms of the draft, the Blues have three of the first 31 picks this year. They would be: Round 1, pick 1; Round 1, pick TBD (wherever the Carolina Hurricanes finish in the playoffs); and Round 2, pick 1 (31st overall). Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blues head scout, has his work cut out for him, but there's enough talent available that the Blues should come away with three solid players.
As far as free agency goes, the Blues will have plenty of cap room available. As of right now, the Blues only have 7 players under NHL contracts next season including Keith Tkachuk, Mayers, Salvador, as well as newcomers David Backes and Magnus Kahnberg just to name a few. That pretty much means that the club gets to reshape itself in any way it so chooses, letting go the players who haven't quite cut it, while retaining those who have. Both Backes and Mike Glumac should see large roles as power forwards on the club next season, while a couple of the young talented skaters such as Lee Stempniak, Jay McClement, and Peter Sejna should also see their roles expand. Both of the Blues rookie netminders, Curtis Sanford and Jason Bacashihua, have shown excellent skills between the pipes and look to have very bright futures.
As far as who the Blues will be aiming for during the offseason goes, Doug Weight should be considered the cream of the crop. Doug announced after the trade that he would love to come back to St. Louis to finish off his career after receiving his shot at the cup with the Hurricanes. Well that run is almost over, which means, Doug may almost be a Blue again. The Blues are really looking for talent in all aspects of the game. They will most definitely try to sign at least one of the league's top goal scorers as they are in desperate need of a scoring threat, while at the same time they will try to shore up on the blueline, and between the pipes. Cujo's (Curtis Joseph) name has been mentioned already several times for a possible goaltender next season as well as Chris Osgood.
Other rumors around the league deal with Blues management. Talks of poor job security have been haunting the likes of President/CEO Mark Sauer, GM Larry Pleau, as well as Head Coach Mike Kitchen, but only time will tell what Checketts decides to do with the team's management.
As the offseason looms, many Blues fans find themselves sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the Blues to make a few key acquisitions and return to the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup in 2006-07.
Thu 05/04/06, 12:23 pm EST