Blues offseason recap

ST. LOUIS — The Blues won’t have a dramatically different look during the 2014-15 season after going 52-23-7 and racking up 111 points last season. But there were some notable changes this offseason.

With almost two months left before the start of the regular season, we’re taking a quick look at the moves St. Louis made this offseason and how those transactions figure to impact the Note.

KEY LOSSES

G Ryan Miller
C Derek Roy
F Brenden Morrow
D Carlo Colaiacovo
C Vladimir Sobotka

The biggest difference for the Blues this season will be in the net.

The Blues shipped Jaroslav Halak to Buffalo for Miller at the trade deadline, but the deal didn’t work out as Miller struggled down the stretch. He finished with a 10-8-1 mark in 19 regular season games with St. Louis, including a 2.47 goals-against average and .903 save percentage, and then allowed 2.70 GAA and had an .897 save percentage in the six playoff games against the Blackhawks.

General manager Doug Armstrong was content to let Miller leave via free agency and instead re-sign Brian Elliott and go with youngster Jake Allen as his goalie tandem. Elliott went 18-6-2 with a 1.96 GAA and .922 save percentage last season. Allen didn’t play in a game with the Blues in 2013-14 after showing well the previous season, but he had a strong campaign for the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago.

Roy accounted for 37 points (nine goals, 28 assists) in 75 games after signing a one-year deal as a free agent last summer. It was a move that just didn’t work out for St. Louis as the veteran never seemed to find his footing as the playmaking center the team was looking for. He only played in four of the team’s six playoff games.

Morrow, also signed to a one-year deal last offseason, provided veteran leadership but not a lot of offense. He had 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 71 games. A late season foot injury limited him to just two games during the first-round series against the Blackhawks. The winger signed this offseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Colaiacovo played in just 25 games after signing with the team in mid November but provided the team with some solid depth along the blue line.

The biggest loss this offseason was the puzzling departure of Sobotka, who signed a three-year deal with Avangard Omsk in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

The Blues had tried to sign the 27-year-old center, who was a restricted free agent, to a multiple-year deal but were unsuccessful. St. Louis will retain Sobotka’s rights for whenever he decides to return to the NHL.

KEY ADDITIONS

C Paul Stastny
C Jori Lehtera
F Joakim Lindstrom
F Steve Ott
D Chris Butler

The Blues hooked a big fish at the start of free agency with the signing of Stastny, a St. Louis native who was regarded as the top center available.

Stastny, 28, is coming off a season in which he scored 60 points (25 goals, 35 assists) for the Avalanche and he is averaging 0.85 points per game for his entire eighth-year NHL career.

The Blues gave Stastny a four-year deal worth $7 million annually, which makes him the team’s highest paid player in terms of average annual value. Now he will be expected to center St. Louis’ top line with Alexander Steen and David Backes likely on the wings with him.

The Blues are gambling a bit on the signings of Lehtera and Lindstrom, two players who spent last season playing overseas. Lindstrom has played in Sweden the last four years, while Lehtera, the team’s third-round pick in 2008, had spent the past four years in Russia’s KHL.

Lehtera, signed to a two-year deal, could make an impact as a second- or third-line center, though it’s difficult to say how quickly he’ll be able to adjust to the NHL game and playing with his new teammates. Lindstrom will likely have to compete with some of the Blues’ younger forwards for ice time and a clear role on the club.

The Blues announced the re-signing of Ott on the same day that it was reported that Sobotka had signed his deal with the KHL. Acquired along with Miller in the deadline deal with Buffalo, Ott didn’t have much success offensively with the Blues — he had three points and a plus-minus rating of minus-12 in 23 regular season games — but he brings some toughness and is a proven commodity on face-offs.

Butler, another St. Louis native, was signed for defensive depth but could work his way into the mix. He played in 82 games for the Calgary Flames last season, averaging 20:16 minutes of ice time per night, and accounted for 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and a minus-23 rating.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com

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