Monday, January 30, 2006

 

St. Louis Blues: Get them at clearance prices!

When I wrote the St. Louis Blues January team report for FantasyHockey.com over the weekend, one of the main themes was that Mike Sillinger and Doug Weight were kickin some serious booty, and that the vultures (other GMs) were circling to snap them up.

I expected GM Larry Pleau to make some deals after the Olympics, but today we suddenly get two quick deals as the Blues move forward and begin their salary dumps.

I am glad Pleau got this done earlier in respect to not paying salary to players that can't help the Blues get to 29th place. As good as Weight and Sillinger are, the Blues still suck with them in the lineup. Why weight to dump Weight?

1. Mike Sillinger is dealt to the Nashville Predators for prospect Timothy Shish-kabob (Timofei Shishkanov, in Russian).

Enter the NHL.com news bit with the understatement of the year:

"The deal could be a sign that the Blues are giving up on this season. St. Louis has reached the playoffs every season since 1980 but the Blues have an NHL-worst 30 points more than halfway through the season."

Sillinger had 41 points in 48 games and was leading the Blues in goals. Sillinger has generally been a decently productive guy on weak teams (Anaheim, Florida, Tampa Bay, St. Louis), is very good on faceoffs. The problem I have with Sillinger is that his defence is a lot weaker than the MSM would have you believe. As an offensive-minded forward (when weaker teams have him play this role), he's often more of a liability than a benefit as he doesn't score enough to offset his weaknesses. As a member of a stronger team, he'll be slotted into a 3rd line role, but he's not likely to be as great defensively as Nashville fans would hope.

This is purely a subjective view, but I've seen Sillinger as a Canuck and watched him flounder in his few playoff opportunities (just 33 games and 13 points), mainly because he's not good enough defensively to be a real benefit and he's not good enough offensively to play on the first two lines of a really good team. He's a true NHL 'tweener', which is probably a good reason why he's been around to 11 different NHL teams and will probably be in the league for a good while longer.

That said, he's versatile and came at a very cheap price for Nashville. Shish-kabob is a 2nd round pick of Nashville's from 2001, and he's not particularly good. He's got just 29 points in 46 AHL games this season and doesn't project to be any better than a fringey 2nd line player at best. The Blues already have enough marginal prospects as it is, so why didn't Pleau get someone more useful?

2. Doug Weight. The Carolina Hurricanes are serious about contending, and this is obviously a great move for them, albeit expensive. The Hurricanes have a legitimate shot to come out of the East, so I can see why they would pull out the stops. You don't often get these type of opportunities, especially given Carolina's history. I'm sure the Acid Queen is dancing to Moskau right about now.


The Carolina Hurricanes have acquired Doug Weight and 27-year-old Finnish forward Erkki Rajamaki from the St. Louis Blues.

In exchange, Carolina gave to the Blues three draft picks and three players. The package includes:

- Carolina's first-round pick in 2006.
- Toronto's fourth-round pick in 2006, previously acquired by the Hurricanes.
- Chicago's fourth-round pick in 2007, previously acquired by the Hurricanes.
- Tough guy forward Jesse Boulerice, a 27-year-old eighth-year pro
- Forward Mike Zigomanis, a 25-year-old fifth-year pro
- Magnus Kahnberg, 25, an unsigned Carolina draftee from Sweden who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1
The picks are the thing, bubba. Boulerice and Zigomanis are basically the same useless flotsam that takes up 1/2 of the Blues roster already.

Anyway, here is the Blues Team Report for January, before the two deals were made. From a fantasy standpoint, you are in big trouble if you have any Blues players on your team from this point forward.

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As another month of losses came to an end for the St. Louis Blues, the vultures have started to circle as opposing GM's look to pick the rare bits of meat off of the St. Louis Blues roster in order to boost their own fortunes.

If only the St. Louis Blues could play the Vancouver Canucks every night, they might make the playoffs. The Blues went 2-8-3 thus far in January, with both wins coming over the Vancouver Canucks. This record included a 9 game winless streak (0-7-2) and the Blues were outscored 31-46 through the month.

While the Blues maintain their last-place position in the NHL, they have managed to stay in the news for various reasons.

On December 30th, the Blues ended 2005 by picking up Vladimir Orszagh on re-entry waivers. Orszagh had been playing with Lulea in the Swedish Elite League as he recovered from a serious knee injury sustained last season. The Phoenix Coyotes had come to a contract agreement with Orszagh, but the Blues prevented that move and picked up Orszagh to add to their own roster. The move came with some controversy, as the IIHF contested that the move was illegal due to the newly signed agreement with the NHL. Lulea and Orszagh contested that they had their own agreement which allowed Orszagh to return to the NHL at any time. In the end, Orszagh won his end of the argument and he ended up back in the NHL.

On January 15th, defenseman Eric Brewer was placed on the Injured Reserve, targetted to have season-ending surgery to his separated shoulder.

January 27th, forward Jeff Hoggan was sidelined 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone.

January 28th, forward Simon Gamache, who was claimed from the Nashville Predators, was re-claimed by those same Predators after the Blues had waived him.

In addition, there have been many trade rumours circling the team as we head towards the trading deadline. The Philadelphia Flyers are the highest-profile team linked to center Doug Weight, who has had most of his lofty contract already paid for this season. Other useful players, such as Mike Sillinger and Vladimir Orszagh, are also of interest to playoff-bound clubs. With little to fight for other than last place, the Blues would love to trim some salary and continue to stockpile assets for the future.

During January, the Blues slipped from 25th to 28th in goals for with 2.57 goals per game while they rose from 30th and dead last to 28th with 3.74 goals against per game.

LIGHTIN’ THE LAMP
Doug Weight continued to impress with his offensive leadership, even in the absence of Keith Tkachuk. After 16 points in 14 games during December, Weight talled 4 goals and 9 assists in 13 games during January.

Mike Sillinger, playing mainly as a right winger for the Blues, also matched Weight with a second straight hot month. Sillinger had 11 points in 13 December games, and then improved with 10 goals and 6 assists in 13 games during January. Sillinger had a 7-game goal scoring streak, the longest of his career. Sillinger has sacrificed defense (-17) for his offensive boost as the Blues had few other options on the second line.

On defence, rookie Dennis Wideman continues to be productive offensively, adding 7 points in 13 games (6 on the PP) in January after 8 points in 14 games in December. His -9 during January, however, would offset his great fantasy hockey gains somewhat. As Wideman has been given more defensive responsbility, he has struggled more and more with increased ice time against better opposing players.

Also on the back-end, rookie Kevin Dallman has been a nice addition to the Blues after a rather moribund performance (1 points in 21 games) for the Boston Bruins. With increased Power Play time, Dallman has 6 points in his last 10 games with the Blues and has formed an effective 1-2 punch with Wideman.

FROZEN PUCKS
Scott Young did not benefit from the fine play of Doug Weight, struggling with only 6 points in 13 games. Usually a Power Play gunner, his position was taken over by the hot Mike Sillinger. Young had only 3 PPP in January, after 9 in December.

Defenseman Bryce Salvador actually managed to improve defensively and was only -4 in 10 January games. Offensively, he continued to be a non-factor with just 1 lone assist during the month and only 4 shots on goal. Bryce also had only 2 PIM, which helped his defensive acumen, but gives him absolutely no fantasy value whatsoever.

Eric Weinrich, the rock on the blue line for most of the season, found his Power Play time taken away from him (for good reason), and he didn't manage a single point in 12 games this month. Eric had only 7 shots on goal for the month, but did impress with just a -1 rating and rock-solid defense. There have been rumours that playoff-bound clubs may try and pilfer him away.

Many fans have called for Barret Jackman to get an increased share of Power Play ice time, but 2 points in 13 games won't cut it. Jackman is now the best Blues defensive defenseman, but he has little offensive value and has not managed to generate much with his passing or shooting.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

The comedy of errors between the pipes this season seemed to get a little less humourous in January as Curtis Sanford managed to take the #1 job and do a pretty good job with it.
After a rather hot December (1.84 GAA and 91.9SV% in 4 games), Sanford had the bulk of the workload in January and finished with a 2-6-3 record, a 2.90GAA and 90.70%. Given the amount of chances Sanford faces on a nightly basis, and the goaltender statistics around the league, Sanford has actually given the Blues great goaltending since he was given Patrick Lalime's #1 job. Unfortunately, Sanford just can't get any wins behind this club, thus hindering his fantasy value.

Backup Jason Bacashihua was put on the Injured Reserve on January 22nd due to a faulty left shoulder. His January was not one to remember with a 0-2-0 4.04GAA 86.3SV% performance. Jason continues to show his great athleticism, but also his lack of fundamentals.
Chris Beckford-Tseu, the Blues ECHL starting goalie, was called up again in January as "Cash" went on the IR. Chris has yet to see a single minute of NHL game action, however. With a 4.76GAA in the AHL, it's kind of obvious why the Blues don't want to put him in the nets unless forced to at gunpoint

As for Patrick Lalime, he has settled down after a rocky start to his AHL demotion. He has a 6-6-1 record with a 2.86GAA and 90.3SV% in 14 games for the Peoria Rivermen. With the great play of Curtis Sanford, don't expect the Blues to try and recall Lalime any day soon.

ATTACKING THE ZONE – FORWARDS
GM Larry Pleau lucked out when AHL phenom Simon Gamache was waived by the Nashville Predators. Pleau grabbed Gamache late in November and allowed Pleau to trade Eric Boguniecki for some defensive help. Gamache saw some time on the RW with center Doug Weight and didn’t look out of place with 6 points in 11 games. Unfortunately, Gamache soon got shut out in the cold by coach Mike Kitchen for some unknown reason, and he only played 4 more games for the Blues before being reclaimed by the Predators. With the Blues struggling to score goals, it was obvious to no one as to why Kitchen scratched Gamache from the lineup night after night.

The end of 2005 saw Larry Pleau find another waiver wire gem in Vladimir Orszagh, but Vlado has not given the Blues an offensive boost of any sort. While Vladimir works hard, battles in the corners, and plays well defensively, he has only 1 point in 7 for the Blues and is more suited for a 3rd line role.

The story continues to play the great play of Mike Sillinger, who has played some center as of late between Scott Young and Dallas Drake. Sillinger seems to be at his best on the right side with center Petr Cajanek.

As for Petr Cajanek, after an ice-cold December (2 points in 8 games), Cajanek had 7 points during January. Cajanek also managed to break a 2-month long goal scoring drought as he piled up 3 goals. Cajanek has been slotted often with Vladimir Orszagh on either the 3rd line or 2nd line, depdending on the mood of Mike Kitchen.

The top line continues to see Doug Weight with Scott Young and whichever random winger Mike Kitchen picked out of a hat (usually Dean McAmmond), while the 3rd and 4th lines are a mis-mash of flotsam such as Ryan Johnson, Jamal Mayers, Jeff Hoggan (now on the IR), and Jay McClement (now re-demoted)

PRESSURING THE PUCK – DEFENSEMEN

The re-injury of Eric Brewer put a rather large hole in the Blues defense, but the group came together and actually improved somewhat during the month.

The pairing of rock Barret Jackman and the offensive rookie Dennis Wideman continued to be an effective combination

The second pairing sees the steady Eric Weinrich paired with the offensive-minded rookie Kevin Dallman. Weinrich has been very effective this season and his offensive sacrifice (0 points in 12 games) was offset by his continued solid defensive play. Dallman, another one of these older rookies, has played with good spirit since the Blues have given him plenty of ice time to work with.

The third pairing sees the oft-maligned and struggling Bryce Salvador playing with either Christian Backman (in and out of the lineup with various ailments), and the ineffective Steve Poapst.

To be fair to Bryce and Steve, they played much better in January. Salvador "improved" to -4 during January and Steve followed suit just -1 in 7 games.

Matt Walker, the team’s 7th defenseman, was placed on Injured Reserve on January 5th with a strained knee.

THE BLUE LINE – SPECIAL TEAMS
The Blues Power Play improved drastically during January, rising from 26th to 21st with a 16.0% success rate. The play of defensemen Dennis Wideman (6 PPP) and Kevin Dallman (4 PPP) on the points was a big boost to the fortunes of the Blues PP unit. With Dallman now a useful option, Scott Young and Doug Weight don't have to play on the point nearly as much as they used to.

Up front, Mike Sillinger, surprisingly, shares the lead on the Blues with 24 PPP, tied with the usual suspect, Doug Weight. Both players had good months with the man-advantage, scoring 10 and 7 PPP respecitvely.

The Penalty Killing unit stayed the course for the third straight month and remains in 22nd spot overall with a success rate of 80.5%. Up front, Ryan Johnson, Jamal Mayers, Mike Sillinger, and Petr Cajanek generally take the bulk of the PK duties.

On the back end, Bryce Salvador continues to lead the Blues on PK ice time despite his struggles. With 5:14 in PK ATOI, the coaching staff still seems to count on his crease-clearing ability due to his strength. His partner in crimes against defence, Steve Poapst, has rung up 3:54 of PK ATOI and has done a rather poor job of it. Thankfully, he's been given less and less ice time as the Blues coaching staff realizes that he's not very good.

Barret Jackman (3:37) and Eric Weinrich (3:39) comprise the 2nd PK defence unit.

The Blues are 8th best at drawing Power Plays, with 325 of them overall this season. With an improving Power Play performance in January, the Blues used this to their advantage..As for the lack of discipline, the Blues have regressed slightly as they dropped from 7th to 10th overall in Power Plays against.

The one area that the Blues did really poorly in was even-strength play. The Blues fell from 29th to 30th as they dropped from a collective -38 to a collective -51, 8 worse than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

OUTLOOK

The schedule will see the Blues finish January with a derby against the Calgary Flames on the 30th, before a rather quiet pre-Olympic stretch of 6 games in February. Apart from a game against Chicago on Feb 2, and perhaps another victory against the Canucks on the 8th, the Blues play a bevy of challenging teams (Detroit, Dallas, Calgary, Edmonton) before they can rest during the Olympics.
As you would expect, the Blues have very few Olympians going to Turin. Only Doug Weight (Team USA) and Petr Cajanek (Czech Republic) will represent the Blues in this prestigious tournament.

Once the tournament is over, the pilfering of the Blues can begin as the trade deadline comes and goes.

Comments:
fantasywize wideman is solid option. i've said since the first game i saw him "this boy can shoot", the blues are now FORCING him to shoot, mostly on the powerplay, and he is pointing, his biggest draw back is he is mike sillinger :0). you take away promised power play slot and tons o ice time, and his defense warrents him a 7th (maybe 6th) slot where he gets no points:0)

sanford is playing average nhl goal. not much to recommend him since he is on a below average team, and will never be leader of a cup contending team, but still....average. losing anges too much....

oh and the doug weight deal, i've seen this thing cried about for years. pleau got ripped off. sob sob sob. i've never believed it, but let me say the blues got dougie in his prime, and now that he is past it a bit (although the changes in the game may allow him to compensate for that) larry got exactly what he gave for the guy.

oh and dougie loves us, so maybe he even suits up again for us next season! woot!!!

HERE IS THE HURRICANES CURSE!!!

they overpaid. VASTLY overpaid on a player rental. they pretty much HAVE to sign dougie to make the deal make sense. (exactly where the blues where to give a first round player and a second round player) and if they sign him above free market price (or even AT market price) for 5 years or so, how many people going to cry in whatever weak beer they brew in the carolinas?!? (it is someting pointe, or pointe something if i remember from my visit to beautiful downtown warrenton which is basically 70 minutes away from everywhere except charlotte where is is 190 minutes away)
 
I think "Anonymous" is attempting to insult people from the Carolinas, but he did a better job of insulting himself with his horrible writing. None of that even makes sense.

We know full well that Dougie is going to be a rental, and we're okay with that. We gave up an unsigned player and two depth players for a point-a-night guy with lots of playoff experience. The two fourth round picks are of no consequence. The first round pick is the big thing, and I don't think it's that big of a deal. The Carolina pick will probably be between 26 and 30, and this will be a particularly shallow draft.

I love this trade, even if we don't get to sign Doug Weight next season. It may well bring us the Cup.
 
insult? not really. well your beer. hey, i visited a tiny towninnorth nc onpurpose lol.and yea the first round pick is overpaying. and the heart of the deal.

for more evidence, i'll point out, the blues gave the almost the same thing and "overpaid a rental"

i.e. blues gave a crappy first round late pick (well a player not the actual pick) who still has bust written all over him, and a solid second rounder VERY slow to develop. to me that certainly equals a first, two 4ths, some trash and maybe one 4th line keeper.

so, as i said, i've seen this all play out before, and the blues got a better doug weight and during a more volital market thanthecanes got. if the blues overpaid, the canes did lol

and yea if you win the cup nothing you did matters, but really, we took a presidents cup team, and added doug weight :) didnt help.

so when you loose and doug leaves your really not going to be missing anything?
 
CT, you think you could post in a language more closely resembling English? Seriously bra, not even I can parse what the hell you're saying.

I take this trade for what it's worth--the addition of NHL-caliber depth, adding a valuable veteran playmaker that's worked extensively with our coach and a couple of current Hurricanes, and the relieving of pressure on Rod Brind'amour (who is leading the league in ice time).

Is he Brind'amour insurance? Not really. But he's a good playmaking centerman who has been putting out good numbers on a woefully abysmal Blues team and a guy that can only help the Hurricanes.
 
this was some pretty interesting reading.... the 'canes have erkki! no! (sorry, i met him and he's wicked cool) and wideman better keep up his good work, otherwise i might have to say some not-so-nice words. and as he's my favorite player, that would not be something i really want to do. i hate the deals!!!!! *storms off and starts grumbling about it all over again*
 
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