Vladimir Tarasenko is expected to be an important part of St. Louis' future and he received that message before leaving the team after their playoff elimination.
"I was very impressed with his season," GM Doug Armstrong said. "Now he has to go home and he has to come back in and be a player that we can count on. He left with a mandate that, 'Your name is on the board in an important spot now.'" Tarasenko played in just one playoff game in the Blues' first-round exit against Los Angeles after producing eight goals and 19 points in 38 games during his rookie season.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong called his team's goaltending situation "cloudy."
Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak are both candidates for the number one role and signed through next season, but they'll also have to compete with 22-year-old Jake Allen. "I think anything could happen," Armstrong said. "It was a difficult year for both Elliott and Jaro, and I think Jake took great advantage of it. He's proven to us now that he has to go in the equation. Brian got off to a poor start, resurrected himself, had a great finish. Jaro, unfortunately, had injuries. We were giving him the ball and then ... he got injured again, and the season progressed and he didn't get back in the net. So it's a cloudy issue right now to be honest with you, our goaltending situation, because of how the season has progressed. It's a positive cloud in one sense, in that Jake has given us things we have to look at." It's possible that the Blues will trade Halak or Elliott to clear the logjam.
Ty Rattie earned the MVP Award in the WHL playoffs.
"It's a great feeling to know that all your hard work, all of your team's hard work, finally paid off," Rattie said. "To lift that trophy was a surreal feeling." He had 20 goals and 36 points in 21 postseason contests after recording 48 goals and 110 points in 62 regular season games. He'll be worth keeping an eye on during the Blues' training camp.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and GM Doug Armstrong both mentioned the need for the team's "homegrown" players to take a big step next season.
There's been a lot of talk about the Blues not possessing an elite finisher, but St. Louis also has multiple former first-round picks on the roster. Players like T.J. Oshie, Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund need to develop into more consistent offensive players in the postseason while youngsters Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko get more experience under their belts.
It doesn't sound like the St. Louis Blues are going to make sweeping changes following their first-round exit.
"My belief in playoff success is you knock on the door, you get to the door enough times and sooner or later you get through," Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. "Where we're at now is we're at the door consistently for two years, we're going to get back there. If we put ourselves in this position year-in and year-out, at some point we'll get through." He added that he feels the team is moving in the right direction.
St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong essentially said that it's up to Jori Lehtera if he wants to join up with the team next season.
The 25-year-old Finnish center was the 65th pick of the 2008 NHL Draft. He's been close to a point-per-game player in the KHL the past two seasons, so it's possible that he can fit in well with a team that could use more offense.
NHL.com's Lou Korac reports that St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn't exactly give his teams unrestricted free agents glowing reviews.
Among the most interesting names on that list: Andy McDonald, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jordan Leopold and Scott Nichol. With a cloudy goaltending situation also in mind, this could be an interesting offseason.