It goes without saying that this is going to be an interesting off-season for St. Louis.
Let’s start off here by saying that no one knows what the free agent market will look like a week from now. Fans have a lot to wade through before the deadline if they want to make reasonable guesses about their team’s intent. The general managers, obviously, have to wait until after the expansion draft before getting a clearer idea of what their cap situation looks like so they can make trades at the NHL draft on the 23rd and 24th. It won’t be until shortly before the deadline on the 28th that teams will have a better idea of what they can afford and what trade assets are available to move. They’ll have to wait until the 28th to fully get an idea of who is available to sign.
Basically, everything’s speculation right now. We’re just having fun! Unless you’re a Colorado Avalanche fan, that is.
Blues fans know how unpleasant it is to lose a captain to unrestricted free agency. Regardless of if you think Armstrong low-balled Alex Pietrangelo or if you think Petro left for other reasons, it still was clearly less than ideal to see him on the blueline in Vegas. It’s not hard to empathize with the anxiety that Avalanche fans feel about Gabriel Landeskog testing the waters. Quotes like this one from an interview with Peter Baugh of The Athletic (subscription required) don’t help the fans’ trepidation:
“The uncertainty is something I’ve never dealt with,” Landeskog says. “I’ve always known that come September, October, I’m going to pull on that Avs jersey.”
It gets better (or worse, depending on if you’re an Avalanche fan or not):
“I can’t help but be honest with you that I’m a little bit disappointed that it’s gotten this far and it’s had to come to this point,” Landeskog says.
There’s still time for the Avalanche to figure stuff out, but to say that Landeskog is currently the most watched pending UFA is an understatement. A little over a week ago, I wrote a UFA profile on Landeskog as a “hey, wouldn’t it be fun if it got this far” bit of speculation. It turns out that the Blues think that it would be fun if it got that far too.
Free agency is 2+ weeks away and one of the coveted players will be Gabriel Landeskog. I’m told #stlblues will apply “a full pitch effort” for #avs captain if he hits the open market. The feeling is he’d be a great fit as LW linemate with pal Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron.
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) July 12, 2021
Being able to put Landeskog on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron is more than an exciting thought. If Perron can maintain a high level of production, that could very well be one of the top lines in the Western Conference.
To be fully honest, the Avalanche losing Landeskog to any team is a net positive, as it breaks up the very productive (especially against the Blues) partnership of Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. If that’s going to get broken up, why not just add some gravy in the form of constructing a top line like Landeskog-O’Reilly-Perron?
Many chips will have to fall just so to make this even a remote possibility for the Blues. They’ll have to deal Vladimir Tarasenko, who will probably garner the Blues a roster player. That, of course, means that Tarasenko’s full cap hit won’t be available for Landeskog. Doug Armstrong will also need to keep his fingers crossed that the Kraken select a player with a bit of a cap hit for some relief. There’s also the problem of getting Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman back – or finding some solid replacements if there’s cap space to do it. There’s no point in signing Landeskog if you’re going to have a question mark on left wing on the second or third lines.
The Blues have an opportunity to snag the best UFA forward on the market. Opportunity doesn’t mean success, and things can change in a second heading up to free agency. This situation may be one that Blues fans want to keep an eye on until the ink is dry on Landeskog’s new deal, wherever that may be.