Tag: Zbynek Michalek

Steve Downie

Coyotes stay busy, ink Downie, Michalek and Lindback


Don Maloney is a busy man.

Having already inked former Canucks center Brad Richardson to a three-year deal, the Coyotes GM set about getting to the salary cap floor by adding a trio of veterans — forward Steve Downie (formerly of Pittsburgh), defenseman Zbynek Michalek (formerly of St. Louis) and goalie Anders Lindback (formerly of Buffalo).

The details:

The Michalek move — $6.4 million total, $3.2M average annual cap hit — is interesting, as the Coyotes dealt him to St. Louis at the deadline and promptly brought him back.

Lindback will presumably serve as Mike Smith’s backup next season and Downie… well, he’s now onto his fifth NHL team in eight years, having already spent time in Philly, Tampa Bay, Colorado and Pittsburgh.

Blues won’t make significant addition until Tarasenko is signed

Vladimir Tarasenko

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’

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.”

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.”

Hitch admits coaching the Blues was ‘a struggle’ earlier in the season

Ken Hitchcock

Good read here on Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Long story short, apparently Hitch wasn’t exactly loving his job earlier this season.

“There were times in November and December where I thought, ‘This is a struggle.'” he said. “That ended in January. It’s been off and running since. We had some trouble getting players to buy in and you start wondering if we could do it the way we did before. But when you see what this team can do, it’s invigorating.”

Granted, the Blues didn’t look too good in their last outing, a 4-1 loss to Vancouver on Monday that led d-man  Zbynek Michalek to conclude, “I don’t think there’s one good thing about our game right now.”

And to be sure, if St. Louis is once again eliminated early in the playoffs, there will be questions about Hitchcock’s job status.

But for what it’s worth, GM Doug Armstrong has said that Hitchcock will coach the Blues until Hitchcock no longer wants the job. And right now it sounds like he still wants the job.

St. Louis is back in action tomorrow versus the Flames.