Tag: Olli Jokinen

Vladimir Tarasenko

Blues won’t make significant addition until Tarasenko is signed


The St. Louis Blues have a healthy amount of cap space and some moderate, primarily depth-related needs, but they might be inactive in Day 1 of the free agent period. That’s because Blues GM Doug Armstrong plans to remain in a holding pattern until the team’s negotiations with restricted free agent Vladimir Tarasenko has come to a resolution.

“We’ll talk to our own restricted free agents, but we’re going to stay away from the unrestricteds until we find out what Vladi’s intentions are,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If we can find the depth player that we want, we’re going to fill out our roster. But as far as making a significant addition to our team, we’re not looking for a top-five defenseman or a top-10 forward until we get Vladi done.”

Part of the reason for that position is to guard against the threat of an offer sheet. Armstrong doesn’t think Tarasenko will end up signing one, but as long as the Blues don’t indulge in the UFA or trade markets, they’re in a position to match any contract another team puts in front of the 23-year-old star forward.

While offer sheets are rare, the threat of one seems to have guided the trade market recently. In the last week we’ve seen Boston ship Dougie Hamilton to Calgary and Chicago trade Brandon Saad to Columbus.

Meanwhile, forwards Olli Jokinen and Marcel Goc as well as defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Barret Jackman are among the players that St. Louis is letting test the unrestricted free agent waters.

Related: Armstrong doesn’t see the Blues, Tarasenko being ‘very far apart in dollars’

UFA of the Day: Cody Franson


Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Cody Franson

He set new career-highs in 2014-15 with seven goals and 36 points in 78 contests, which is in a way remarkable given how rough his reunion with Nashville went. The 27-year-old defenseman already had 32 points in 55 games with Toronto before he was sent to the Predators on Feb. 15 along with Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and what turned out to be the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Philadelphia and used to draft Travis Konecny).

At the time, Nashville was leading the Presidents’ Trophy race and setting the stage for what it hoped would be a lengthy playoff run. Nashville struggled following the trade though and Franson was limited to just 15:25 minutes per contest after averaging 21:23 minutes in Toronto.

In retrospect, Predators GM David Poile felt Franson wasn’t a good fit and he consequently won’t be back for the 2015-16 campaign.

That shouldn’t sour other clubs towards him though as an offensive defenseman with a right-handed shot tends to draw attention. The British Columbia-native has shown an interest in Vancouver and also is hoping that Toronto wants him back.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks might be in the mix as well.

Armstrong doesn’t see the Blues, Tarasenko being ‘very far apart in dollars’

Calgary Flames v St. Louis Blues

Following the Blues first round exit to the Minnesota Wild, GM Doug Armstrong said his top priority was to sign pending restricted free agent Vladimir Tarasenko to a new deal.

“If it means allowing players to go to free agency, if it means making players sweat it out on what their deal’s going to be, he’s the priority for us,” Armstrong said in May.

It appears Armstrong is sticking to his word.

Last week the Blues informed Barret Jackman that he won’t be re-signed.

Pending unrestricted free agents Zbynek Michalek, Marcel Goc and Olli Jokinen all appear headed for the open market on July 1.

Additionally, there are no extensions planned for Chris Butler or Chris Porter prior to July 1.

“What we told all those players, all of our unrestricted players, is that they’ll enter free agency,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Dispatch. “That’s the plan. Now anything can change going up to it, but we understand where the cap is.”

Tarasenko’s three-year, $5.25 million entry-level contract expires next month.

The 23-year-old led the Blues in goals (37) and points (73) during the 2014-15 season.

Nearly two months removed from the club’s final game, there’s nothing to report in terms of a new deal.

“We’d like to get it done as soon as both sides are comfortable,” said Armstrong.“(Tarasenko) knows he’s going to be here, we know he’s going to be here,” Armstrong said. “When it happens, it happens.”

According to Jeremy Rutherford, the club has $57 million in contracts already on the books for the 2015-16 season. With the cap expected to be around $71.5 million, and 16 players under contract for next season, the club has roughly $14 million to play with.

Rutherford believes the Blues and Tarasenko’s agent have spoken this month, but Armstrong wasn’t interested in getting into the details.

“I don’t think it’s beneficial for Vladi or for us to talk about what’s going on behind the scenes,” said Armstrong. “Our team, when you look at the salary cap and you look at our structure, I would imagine that we’re not going to be very far apart in dollars. So, I have a really good feeling of what it’s going to take and I think he does, too.”

Franson on free agency: ‘I’m hopeful that Toronto’s in the mix’

cody franson

During his season-ending media availability Nashville Predators GM David Poile told reporters that his acquisition of defenseman Cody Franson from the Toronto Maple Leafs “wasn’t a perfect fit”.

Franson along with Mike Santorelli were dealt from the Leafs to the Predators on Feb. 15 in exchange for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic and Nashville’s 2015 first-round draft pick.

“The fact that Franson was a right-handed shot…wasn’t the perfect situation for Franson or for us,” said Poile said last month.

The blue liner had a goal and four points in 23 games with the Preds following the trade and added two assists in five games of Nashville’s first round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Barring a trade before July, Franson is likely headed for unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career and is hoping his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, comes calling.

“I enjoyed playing in that city and definitely I’m hopeful that Toronto’s in the mix come July 1,” Franson told TSN Radio 1050 on Saturday. “My phone will definitely be on and hoping that they’re one of the teams that calls.”

The 27-year-old spent parts of four seasons in Toronto registering 115 points in 236 games while averaging just under 20 minutes a night in ice time.

Having appeared in 400 career games over eight seasons split between Nashville and Toronto, Franson could have the opportunity to chose where he plays for the first time in his career. However, it’s not something he’s necessarily looking forward to.

“This is new territory for me,” he said. “I’m excited to kind of really just get it over with and find out where I’m going and start gearing towards the next season. I’ve been off for a few weeks now, taken my time off and getting back in the gym here.

“When you start getting back in the gym, it’s that time to start looking forward to the next season. With being in free agency, you don’t know where that’s going to be. July 1 can’t come quick in enough.”

Franson made $3.3 million this season on a one-year deal.

Armstrong: All Blues signings on hold ’til Tarasenko ‘taken care of’


These are uncertain times in St. Louis.

With the future of head coach Ken Hitchcock up in the air, the club will now put all restricted and unrestricted free agents on the backburner in order to deal with this summer’s No. 1 priority — re-signing Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

“We are not going to be active in signing other players until we get him taken care of,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said, per the Post-Dispatch. “If it means allowing players to go to free agency, if it means making players sweat it out on what their deal’s going to be, he’s the priority for us.

“I’d like to partner with him, I’d like to partner with Mike [Liut, Tarasenko’s agent]. If it happens in May, great. If it happens in June, great. If it happens in August, great. He’s the primary guy.”

To be fair, the Blues don’t have a ton of other decisions to make this summer. RFA goalie Jake Allen is No. 2 on the priority chart after Tarasenko, and the club has suggested it’d like to try and get something done with RFA d-man Roberto Bortuzzo.

As for UFAs, longtime Blue Barret Jackman’s future is in doubt. Armstrong said last week the club has “no answer” at the moment to questions about re-signing Jackman, which is obviously tied to Tarasenko. Trade deadline pickups Olli Jokinen, Marcel Goc and Zbynek Michalek would appear to be lower on the aforementioned priority chart.

Armstrong isn’t divulging much about the status of negotiations with Liut, but did reveal a few nuggets. One, there is zero chance No. 91 leaves via an offer sheet, with Armstrong saying it’ll be “easy” for the club to match whatever’s put forth. Armstrong also said the deal will be contingent upon next year’s salary cap, and that — in keeping with the deal struck last summer for forward Jaden Schwartz — Tarasenko will be hamstrung a bit by his RFA status (lest we forget Tarasenko just wrapped his entry-level deal, which paid a base salary of $900,000.)

“He’s going to be very well compensated on a second contract,” Armstrong explained. “But you make more money when you have more rights. He doesn’t have unrestricted free agency rights and that’s just the nature of the beast.

“That’s the business. He gets it, Mike gets it, I get it.”