The summer of being aggressive in the free agent market landed another player in St. Louis on Tuesday.
The Blues have been on a tear this summer, already having bolstered their front 12 with the acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly through trade, and the additions of Tyler Bozak and David Perron and backup goalie Chad Johnson — all of which were signed since the free agency period opened on July 1 — as they try to rekindle their perennial playoff status.
The departure of Paul Stastny is looking less and less like a loss these days as Armstrong has been able to bolster his lineup and then some thus far.
Maroon, a St. Louis native, adds the physical chops needed in a tough Central Division. And he can score with the right linemates.
He is a year removed from putting up 27 goals with the Edmonton Oilers, albeit with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Last season wasn’t what 2016-17 was and was ultimately traded to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline.
Still, the potential is there with the right playmaker, and while he’s not going to have McJesus feeding him, he could provide the secondary scoring the Blues need after having shored up their top-six this summer.
“This is a one-year opportunity for him to come back, hopefully play with some really good centermen and get back to that 27-goal performance he had in Edmonton, or close to it,” Armstrong told the team’s website. “We think he can help our team. I talked to some of our players about him, competing against him, and they spoke very highly about how hard he was to play against, how difficult he was to move in those high traffic areas. It’s just another player we add to our group that makes us a little better than we were yesterday.”
St. Louis is now pretty tight up against the $79.5 million salary cap for this coming season, counting Just over $76 million against it.
They also have a pending arbitration case with Joel Edmundson set for July 25 (he made just over $1 million last year and is due a raise after posting career highs in goals, points and ice time last season.) and Jordan Schmaltz still needs a new deal as well. Both are restricted free agents.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Blues fan that isn’t happy with the way Armstrong has strong-armed the free agent market.
The Blues were certainly disappointing last year, but they were a team hampered by injuries for large chunks of the season and couldn’t muster enough down the stretch to squeak into the playoffs.
Armstrong angered some when appeared to give up on the Blues after trading Stastny away. But he’s certainly shown his commitment to getting the Blues back to the playoffs this summer.