Armstrong talks Blues’ free-agency plans


Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said today (audio) that he doesn’t expect to have contracts in place for defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and wingers Chris Stewart before free agency opens on Friday.

Both players are restricted free agents.

So…what’s the plan?

According to True Hockey’s Andy Strickland, it’s “sounding more and more like” the Blues will take Stewart, 25, to arbitration.

Pietrangelo, 23, doesn’t have arbitration rights, but Armstrong didn’t sound worried about getting a deal done eventually. (Armstrong has already indicated he’d match any offer sheets for his key RFAs.)

In the meantime, Armstrong has been talking to some free-agent centers to see if there’s a fit. He also expects all three goalies — Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen — will be at camp.

In terms of attracting free agents, Armstrong believes the Blues have become a more appealing option for free agents that, in addition to money, want a chance to win, play with good players and live in a nice place.

Related: Blues re-sign Leopold: two years, $4.5 million

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.