ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – We know the St. Louis Blues will lose one of it’s current players, when the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft takes place Wednesday night. We know which players have been protected and which are available to be poached.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong didn’t have much of a surprise when St. Louis’ protected players list came out.
Tonight’s Sports Open Line on KMOX from 6-9 p.m., hosted by Alex Ferrario will be heavily focused on the upcoming expansion draft. You’ll hear a mock draft of which player from every NHL team Vegas is most likely to select, and Ferrario will be joined by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Blues writer, Jeremy Rutherford.
So lets look at the 5 best decisions he made:
1.) Protecting Reaves
This seemed to be the move that all Blues fans were hoping for. But even before the picks were made, this was the smartest move Doug Armstrong and company could have made. Ryan is the best of his kind in the league. No, I’m not saying that because of his fighting skills or because he is a consistent fourth-line performer.
It’s all of those things.
He’s irreplaceable due to his intimidation factor and his skills offensively. Other teams can put together a solid 4th line but you won’t find another player like Reaves who can do it all. Fight, Score, Intimidate, play big minutes, and use his body as an offensive weapon. Not many like Reaves.
2.) Exposing Lehtera
This is a move that so many have their fingers crossed for Vegas to take him. Now there weren’t many other options due to his decreasing performance the last few years, and the fact that other offensive players had those spots filled. Having Lehtera exposed and the potential of Vegas taking him would help them tremendously. You release yourselves of the $4.7 million for the next two seasons and you free up a roster spot that a younger player could grab in training camp.
3.) Not Making a Trade with Vegas
Exposing Lehtera leads me to this decision by the Blues, at least as far as we know. The Blues hold two 1st round draft picks in this year’s upcoming draft. Something they haven’t had since 2010 when they selected Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Their picks this year won’t be as high but for a team that lacks real depth in the minors, why jeopardize that just so a team would take Lehtera. Even if this draft is as weak as some predict, you can use that pick in a trade to upgrade the center position rather than lose a player.
4.) Protecting Bouwmeester
Some may grind their teeth at this opinion but hear me out. If you look at this upcoming Free Agent class, there aren’t a lot of five-Star defenseman available to sign. If you lose Bouwmeester you would be losing a player who logs a TON of minutes for you in big situations.
He may not be the best offensive weapon you have, but there isn’t a large log jam in the minors of left-handed Defenseman that can take on those many minutes. If you lost Bouwmeester, the defense would be worse off.
5.) Exposing Perron
Usually I would say this is tough to expose Perron after putting up 48 points last season, but there weren’t enough spots to protect him. Perron would be a solid choice if Vegas decided to take him and the Blues would lose a feisty player on the wing who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line. But, he isn’t the only player that can offer something to the Blues in his role.
If you look internally, Magnus Paajarvi had a big second half last year and flourished under Mike Yeo. You have Vladimir Sobotka now who showed his skills in the short time last season. Also, if you wanted to dig into the free agent market there are a few names that intrigue me. Losing Perron would be tough, but if you want to upgrade the offense the Blues may have to look at the market.