ST. LOUIS – A last-second stunner marked the end of the St. Louis Blues season Friday night. The Colorado Avalanche scored a game-winning goal with 5.6 seconds remaining in Game 6, eliminating the Blues from playoffs on Friday for a second straight season.
The Blues battled for their deepest playoff run since winning the 2019 Stanley Cup. The playoffs packed several memorable moments, including a come-from-behind series win over the Minnesota Wild in Round 1 and an overtime thriller Wednesday on the brink of elimination.
With the 2021-22 season coming ahead, the Blues will be tasked with some challenging roster decisions this offseason. Eight players are due for new contracts this offseason, including six unrestricted free agents. Another eight players only have one more season remaining on their current contracts.
For the upcoming offseason…
2022 Unrestricted free agents: David Perron, Tyler Bozak, Nick Leddy, Calle Rosen, Ville Husso, Charlie Lindgren
2022 Restricted free agents: Niko Mikkola, Scott Perunovich
One more year remaining on current deals…
2023 Unrestricted free agents: Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nathan Walker,
2023 Restricted free agents: Logan Brown, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Alexei Toropchenko
The offseason could lead to new deals for several veterans and young talents. Unrestricted free agents have the option of signing with any NHL team without the Blues receiving any compensation for their decision. Restricted free agents can also agree to a contract with a new team, but in such cases, the Blues have the rights to match or upgrade the terms of that contract within a designated time period.
The Blues could make it a high priority to re-sign longtime forward David Perron. Despite playing with four other teams, Perron has only signed deals as an unrestricted free agent with the Blues. His four-year, $16 million contract he signed in 2018 is set to expire. The 34-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals this past season and has produced at nearly a point-per-game clip over the last three seasons. Add in his pivotal role in the 2019 Stanley Cup championship, a major payday could be on the way.
Goaltending will be another area the Blues look to address. Jordan Binnington will be locked in for the next five seasons, but the backup situation remains unclear. Ville Husso and Charlie Lindgren, who accounted for 30 wins this past season, will both hit unrestricted free agency this summer. If neither of those two re-sign, the Blues might consider promoting prospect Joel Hofer to backup next season. Hofer is undefeated over three starts in the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs, and he pulled off a rare goalie goal just a few weeks ago.
Although the Blues may have more timely decisions to make with savvy veterans Tyler Bozak and Nick Leddy, the offseason might be a time to plan ahead beyond next season. Captain Ryan O’Reilly and star forward Vladimir Tarasenko each have one year remaining on their contracts. Tarasenko was the subject of trade rumors last year, but turned in one of his strongest seasons yet with 82 points in 75 games. O’Reilly, the Conn Smythe winner during the Blues’ 2019 title run, delivered steady defense and posted 12 points over 12 games in this year’s playoff campaign.
Big decisions await Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. The Blues enter the offseason with around $9.5 million in cap space available for the upcoming season. That money can be used on the team’s upcoming free agents, entry-level deals for prospects, or other skaters the Blues could choose to sign in NHL free agency this summer.