Tag: Jeff Carter

New York Rangers v St. Louis Blues

Blues’ biggest question: Are they good enough down the middle?


Jonathan Toews. Anze Kopitar. Jeff Carter. Patrice Bergeron. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg.

Teams that win the Stanley Cup almost always have an elite center. As you can see, some of them even have two.

Do the St. Louis Blues?

The answer to that will depend on your definition of elite. If it’s a generous one, then maybe Paul Stastny gets the nod. Otherwise, it’s hard to answer yes.

Next season, the Blues’ top two lines could look something like this:

Alex Steen – Paul Stastny — David Backes
Jaden Schwartz — Jori Lehtera — Vladimir Tarasenko

If one of Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie or Robby Fabbri can step into a top-six role, coach Ken Hitchcock has said that Backes could be moved to the third line.

Regardless of how the lines shake out, it’s no surprise that the Blues were left wanting more from Stastny, their big free-agency signing from last summer.

“Paul Stastny needs to be a bigger part of our group,” GM Doug Armstrong said. “We need him to be a bigger and better part of our team.”

Stastny had 46 points in 74 games last season. He then managed just one goal, with no assists, in the Blues’ six-game playoff loss to the Wild.

Not enough from a player who was supposed to be a difference-maker in the tough Western Conference.

“I think in every sport if you’re strong up the middle you’re usually a strong team,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per Yahoo Sports. “The center icemen seem to be the catalyst, usually offensively. They’re the guys who have the puck the most and make maybe the most decisions on the ice based on the number of touches they have in a game.”

Which is why there’s so much excitement in Washington about young Evgeny Kuznetsov.

But we digress.

The Blues are obviously a strong team. Their regular-season record is proof of that. But they haven’t been able to win that elusive Cup, so it’s only natural to pore over their roster in search of why.

Their lack of a truly elite center — and this goes for good teams like the Wild, Predators, Canadiens, Rangers, and Jets — may be as good an answer as any.

Related: Doug Armstrong is under pressure

Poll: How long will the Kings remain Stanley Cup contenders?

Los Angeles Kings v Toronto Maple Leafs

All of a sudden the Los Angeles Kings’ roster doesn’t look so young anymore.

Jeff Carter is 30.

Ditto for Dustin Brown.

Jonathan Quick will be 30 in January.

Marian Gaborik is 33.

While pending unrestricted free agents Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic are still only 27, and Drew Doughty is even younger at 25, studies have shown that the typical NHL player peaks before the age of 30.

Combine the fact that so much of the Kings’ core is signed long term with a prospect group that doesn’t rank very highly and it’s more than fair to ask how long this group has as a Stanley Cup contender.

So, go vote:

Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal

Jakub Voracek

After two strong seasons, Jakub Voracek firmly established himself as a top-tier forward in 2014-15 and now he’s going to get paid like one.

The Philadelphia Flyers have inked Voracek to an eight-year, $66 million contract extension, per the Philadelphia Daily News’ Frank Seravalli. He still has a season left on his four-year, $17 million deal, so that means he’ll carry a $8.25 million annual cap hit starting in 2016-17 and through the 2023-24 campaign.

The 25-year-old forward (26 on Aug. 15), had 22 goals and a career-high 81 points in 82 games last season. That’s after he recorded 108 points in 130 contests over his previous two campaigns.

He was originally acquired in 2011 from the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade. Philadelphia also got the 2011 eighth overall selection in that deal, which the Flyers used on Sean Couturier. The two forwards now seem set to stick with each other for a long time as Couturier signed a six-year, $26 million deal just a few days ago.

In addition to those two, Philadelphia also has Claude Giroux inked through the 2021-22 campaign at roughly $8.3 million annually. It seems safe to say that the Flyers hope those three will serve as the team’s core for years to come.