Shortly after locking in Jay Bouwmeester, Blues GM Doug Armstrong talked up his hockey club.
“We’re entering a new phase in our organization with this current group,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now we’re a place where good players want to be.”
It’s hard to argue against him.
Over the course of the summer, St. Louis retained all of its key free agents — Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Jordan Leopold, Jake Allen — while adding depth at forward in the form of Derek Roy, Maxim Lapierre and Keith Aucoin.
Armstrong also got proactive by inking Bouwmeester to a five-year, $27 million extension, even though the defenseman had a year remaining on his deal.
The only thing left now is to re-up with key RFA defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. According to Armstrong, the club will do “what is necessary” to get it done.
Overall it’s a pretty bold statement out of St. Louis, a team that’s always been spend-conscious.
Last year, the club operated roughly $18 million under the salary cap ceiling; in 2011-12, they were around $9 million shy; in 2010-11 they were nearly $15 million under.
At the time of writing, the Blues were just $8 million under the cap with Pietrangelo still left to sign.
That, plus the team’s young core and a stable of talented draftees still on entry-level deals — Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin — makes it no surprise that players are excited about St. Louis.
“It was exciting when I talked to Jay and his representation,” Armstrong said. “They felt this was a team that was on the rise and a team that he wanted to be part of.”