Editor’s note: Today’s focus is on the St. Louis Blues. This was written by a very talented up and coming writer named Andrew Allsman. He currently attends university at Southern Illinois University. Make sure to check out more of his work here: http://www.kmov.com/sports/hockey
Last year, Blues fans watched in frustration as their team was linked to some of the top free agent centers on the market, yet failed in their pursuit of ‘the big names’. This year, on what was one of the more active openings to free agency, the Blues made perhaps the biggest splash.
St. Louis, a team that has been looking to add a top center for some time now, opened free agency announcing that they had signed unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny to a four-year, $28 million deal.
The St. Louis native has been impressive throughout his NHL career, putting together four 60-plus point seasons in eight years with Colorado. During his time with the Avalanche, Stastny participated in the playoffs at the end of just three seasons, one of which was the most recent. The 28-year old center was one of Colorado’s better players in their seven-game series with Minnesota in last year’s postseason, posting five goals, ten assists.
However, Stastny wasn’t the only big addition for the Blues this offseason.
The club also reached a deal with Finnish center Jori Lehtera, who has spent the last four seasons in the KHL. Lehtera, 26, decided during the Olympic break that he wanted to join the Blues, and he made that known to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. Lehtera was able to get out of the KHL contract he signed last season with Sibir and reached an agreement with the NHL club that drafted him six years ago.
Lehtera has tallied 118 points since 2011, making him one of the KHL’s top producers the past few seasons. His quick hands and excellent vision have led to 79 assists in the past three seasons. His addition is one the Blues banked on last season, but after another first-round exit, they’ll gladly welcome him into their lineup.
The Blues’ two additions at center give the Blues and head coach Ken Hitchcock a multitude of lineup options on any given night, which includes moving some of the team’s current centers, such as David Backes to the wing to add size to the sides if necessary. The Blues also believe that their additions down the middle will lead to a better scoring touch throughout their top lines.
If there’s one thing the Blues have been missing over the past few seasons, it is a top center. The club believes what they have done to address that issue this offseason will lead to a better chance at success throughout the regular season and into the postseason.