Qualifying offers were extedned Monday to three of the St. Louis Blues’ potential restricted free agents: TJ Oshie, Ben Bishop and Ryan Reaves.
The most noticible name missing from the short list is Matt D’Agostini.
Reaction came predictable and quick as the news spread. In a season filled with career best totals for the Habs castoff, “Dags” quickly became a fan favorite. A ray of sunlight through overcast sky of injuries and ownership drama.
Why allow him to walkaway for nothing? It makes no sense!
A valid point. Comparitvely cheap and productive depth is something all 30 NHL clubs can’t afford to lose. Let alone the Blues who are always desperate to maximize return on investment with so little wiggle room in the checkbook.
A stronger sense of desperation also applies to the need to play more than 82 games. Failing to make the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons will not entice buyers to seal the deal and free Dave Checketts from his NHL burden to have his fun in the NBA. Like any good salesmen, he knows sweetining the pot is sometimes needed.
Suppose Doug Armstrong has been given a green light to add more than a Splenda packet in the mix. Think more like a 1lb bag if pure cane sugar.
With every contract to date this off season he’s been able to min/max. Make a minimum investment to maximize return for role filled. Effectively squeezing out every ounce of available funds for the right deal for the right impact player with the right contract comes along.
Increasing payroll above the historical norm is a calculated risk that now appears to be the right time to take. Consensus puts the figure right at the $48.3 million cap floor. The budget is generally expected to top out at $49 million with the flexibility to jump $3 to $4 million above for the “that player”.
To some the proposition of such a scenario is outlandish. Traditionally, the Blues have not invested so much in payroll. With ownership in limbo, why add more debt? The greater the debt to absorb, the fewer who have the capability to take it. Limitations are not advanageous in this case.
While true, professional sports franchises are not cash cows and any perspective owner knows this. Breaking even is the best case scenario for many. No team will do so, at least consistently, without winning. Right now, the Blues aren’t winning. Not even in the Charlie Sheen sense.
Winning trumps investment. Long term growth options are a benefit, not a detraction.
Keep in mind that the year is 2011. Not 2006. Bill Laurie era thinking does not apply. There will be no great sell off of key assets to drive down value. No blue light special deal to buy the Blues. Checketts doesn’t believe that will bring in quality offers and he is right. Instead assets will be added to bring the product available for sale up to a value equal the asking price.
Whether that comes in the form of a franchise player or added quality depth to bolster chances at a playoff berth remains to be seen.
There is a forest through the trees. A method to the madness. A little patience goes a long way because answers are coming soon.
According to a tweet from Andy Strickland the Blues and Oshie have agreed to a one-year deal. An announcement is expected later this morning.
St. Louis Post Dispatch beat writer Jeremy Rutherford says the two sides are close.
The financials will determine if there is room to bring back D’Agostini or if the Blues will pursue someone like Anthony Stewart.
(Edit: The Blues have confirmed a one year deal with Oshie. One year at $2.35 million.)
About the Author: Bleeding Blue from the IL side of the Mississippi, I've been a Blues fan since I can remember seeing the Blues take on the Oilers at the Arena when I was about 5. All I remember is that Brett Hull scored and I was hooked. Now I cheer on the likes of David Backes and TJ Oshie. It's a great time to be a Blues fan as this team rebuilds itself.