5 Q's: St. Louis Blues

This 5 questions focuses on the St. Louis Blues. They had a strong season last year, and are similar to the Avs in that they have a good young up and coming team in the works. The good blogger over at the Checking Line took some time to answer my questions.

1) The Blue Notes seem to have only one really significant UFA going into July, Radek Dvorak. Do you want to resign him? or is he pretty expendable?

Dvorak is a player that you like having on your team because of his versatility, but it's not the end of the world when you lose him. I wouldn't say that his return is improbable, but he doesn't really fill a need right now for the Blues. They have plenty of depth forwards and not enough of the ones that can put pucks in the net.

2) The goaltending situation in St. Louis seems to be a problem. (Well I'm not convinced Legace is a bonafide #1), there doesn't seem to be any kind of quality UFA out there either. Are the Blues looking to trade for Bryzgolov? or do they have some young stud I don't know about?

Legace may not ever carry a team on his back to win a Stanley Cup, but he's plenty good enough to be the starting goaltender on a team whose goal is to make the playoffs. The plan is to enter the season with him as the starter while Jason Bacashihua and Juuso Riksman will compete for the back-up job in camp. There were some rumors that the Blues were interested in trading for Hannu Toivonen, but John Davidson said Monday that they were going to stick with what they have.

3) The Blues seem to have a really good farm system in place.. who do you expect to make the leap next year and contribute?

The biggest contributions from the farm system will come on the blue line. Erik Johnson will make the jump from the NCAA straight into the Blues lineup and Roman Polak, who had a cup of tea with the Blues last season, will battle for a spot in camp but chances are he'll be the victim of the Blues' depth on defense.

Offensively, I'm not sure we'll see any new faces from the farm system to start the season. It was a big disappointment when TJ Oshie, who had the best shot of making the Blues out of camp, decided to stay at North Dakota for another year. Look for someone like Charles Linglet or Michael Birner to possibly get called up from Peoria if injuries open up a spot during the season.

4) The Blues seem to have a good young team on the verge of making a playoff run. They need to resign Jackman (RFA), as well as resign Dvorak, but are the Blues going to make a play for a big name UFA. I never hear their name thrown around, but they seem to have the cap space and promising future UFA's are looking for.

The Blues do have a lot of cap space, but unfortunately that doesn't mean much to this team. Ownership has said that they're going to spend about $40M this season. They already have approximately $32M committed to the roster leaving them $8M for raises to Lee Stempniak (2006 Salary: $456K) and Barret Jackman (2006 Salary: $1.5M) and to sign two scoring line forwards. The two raises could easily take up half of their remaining payroll, but don't be surprised if they move a defenseman like Christian Backman (2007 Salary: $2.2M) to open up some payroll room. I expect the Blues to go after two mid-level forwards to fill their holes, but Davidson has said that ownership has given him the 'green light' to splurge if it's the right deal for the team. My guess is that means that if they can get a Scott Gomez for $6M it could happen, but they won't be spending $7 or $8M on anyone.

5) Avs fans desperately want someone to emerge to challenge the Red Wings. The Blackhawks aren't going to until Wirtz dies, It's going to take Columbus at least 2 years to get out of that mess, and Nashville is a sinking ship. Is St. Louis going to step to the plate this season, or do the Red Wings get to walk through a weak division?

I regret to inform you that the Wings should have no problem winning the Central Division in 2007-08. Unless they really screw up that team in the offseason, they just won't have any competition. If I had to place a bet right now I'd say the Blues will finish 2nd in the division but if the Predators make the right moves they could as well.

Analysis: The Blues aren't really going to have much of an effect on the Avs this offseason. I would like to see the Avs maybe go after a Dvorak , or as my most recent post states sign Dallas Drake, but those aren't a necessity, just a luxury. The Avs, in my opinion, need a depth forward or two and either of these guys could fill that role. During the season the Blues could really challenge the Avs. There's so many good teams out west, that if both these teams want to make the playoffs, they might be challenging each other. St. Louis has the immediate advantage based on their schedule.

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