How much is Troy Brouwer‘s magical postseason run worth to the St. Louis Blues or some other team in free agency? How important is comfort and familiarity to Troy Brouwer?
Those seem to be the most important bigger-picture questions, although from the sound of Brouwer’s comments, nuts-and-bolts issues may decide his future in or outside of St. Louis.
Brouwer raved about his time with the Blues as the team spoke with the media to close out the 2015-16 season. The power forward seemed very happy about his living conditions and the way his style fits with this blue collar team.
Even so, Brouwer also admits that “it’s a business.”
That’s typical talk, yet it was more interesting when he went a little deeper, acknowledging that he understands that GM Doug Armstrong must ask questions about more than just the 2016-17 season.
His playoff production was fantastic, but a smart GM will realize that it probably wasn’t sustainable. Case in point, facts like these:
Even so, Brouwer brings considerable value if you keep expectations in check.
While he fell a little bit short this season with 18, he generally falls in the 20-goal range each year. He’s one of those players who can bring some grit to the table without totally taking away from your team in other ways.
Brouwer was one of the Blues’ top penalty-killing forwards to boot.
It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for Brouwer to enjoy a healthy raise from his expired $3.67 million cap hit, yet you must wonder how much. Maybe most importantly, what kind of term is he looking for?
That last question might just be pivotal regarding a possible return to the Blues. Would he sacrifice some stability to try to make another run with St. Louis?
Even if he isn’t that old at 30, his rugged style might mean that this is one of his last opportunities for a big payday.
Both sides face a tough call, yet it sounds like a reunion is at least plausible.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.
The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.
We don’t always get what we want…but we try.
In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.
Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.
The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.
Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.
If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).
It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.
The 2015-16 season won’t go down as the best year of Pekka Rinne‘s career. Rinne started the season off for the Nashville Predators relatively well, as he had a 10-2-3 record from the start of the year through Nov. 17. He had given up two goals or less in 10 of those 15 decisions and it looked like he would have another fantastic year.
That’s when things fell apart in a hurry.Rinne went on to lose seven of his next eight games. His once promising season was fading.
The 33-year-old’s season wasn’t all bad. He finished with a 34-21-10 record, but he had a mediocre 2.48 goals-against-average and .908 save percentage. His goals-against-average ranked 19th among goalies who played 40 games or more and his save percentage ranked 26th.
It’s safe to say the consistency was lacking.
In the end, his stick paid the price (top).
“It was a lot of ups and downs,” said Rinne, per the Tennessean. “Personally, I wanted to be better during the regular season. I always have high expectations for myself. I thought that it was hard to get consistency going on throughout the season. I feel like I had a lot of good games, but then (an average game would follow) or something like that.
“It was frustrating at times. Hopefully, my goal is to raise my level of game to where I need it to be and where I want it to be.”
Rinne’s numbers didn’t improve in the playoffs (7-7, 2.63, .906), but he did feel more comfortable about his game overall.
“I’m personally happy with how the season ended for me,” Rinne said. “I thought that I played my best hockey in (the) playoffs. I was able to raise my level of game and the way I played.”
Is Rinne on the decline or was this just a blip on the radar? We’ll find out, but don’t expect a change of scenery coming for the veteran. He probably won’t be leaving Nashville anytime soon. He has three years remaining on his contract at $7 million per year and the Predators don’t exactly have someone ready to take over.