The Blues season ended at 9:41 pm Central time on Friday, and their offseason got underway.
The Blues have five unrestricted free agents on their season-ending roster: Forwards David Perron and Tyler Bozak, defensemen Nick Leddy and Calle Rosen and goalie Ville Husso. Four other players who spent time in the NHL this season but are now in the AHL also are UFAs: Forwards Dakota Joshua, Mackenzie MacEachern and James Neal and goalie Charlie Lindgren. Two other players who spent the entire season in the AHL, forward Sam Anas and defenseman Tommy Cross, are UFAs. Joshua is what is known as a Group 6 free agent; he would have been a restricted free agent but did not reach the required number of games by age 25, so he becomes a UFA.
Only two players on the NHL rosters are restricted free agents, who the Blues would have the right to match any offer for if they extend qualifying offers to: defensemen Niko Mikkola and Scott Perunovich. Mikkola is arbitration eligible, Perunovich isn’t. There are five RFAs in Springfield: forwards Klim Kostin, Will Bitten, Tanner Kaspick, Hugh McGing and Nathan Todd. All except Kostin are arbitration eligible.
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No. 23 in draft
The Blues’ playoff exit means they will select 23rd in the NHL Draft, which will be held July 7-8 in Montreal. The Blues had the ninth-best record, which means they would have been 24th in line, but by advancing to the conference final Edmonton, who the Blues had a better record than, moved into one of the final spots in the first round, So the Blues moved up a spot.
It will be their second highest pick in the past five drafts, behind only last season, where they drafted No. 17. The Blues don’t have a pick in the second round (sent to the Rangers as part of the Pavel Buchnevich trade and now part of a conditional deal with Ottawa) or the seventh round (sent to Montreal as part of the Jake Allen trade).
Rosen going back
The Blues put Rosen on waivers on Saturday so they could send him back to Springfield for the AHL playoffs. Game 3 of the Atlantic Division finals was Saturday night. Lindgren, who didn’t have to go through waivers because he hadn’t been with the Blues long enough, was also sent back. The only other Blue eligible for the AHL playoffs is forward Nathan Walker, but he would also have to go through waivers and the Blues have apparently chosen not to risk that after his run in the playoffs.
Jake Neighbours, who started the season with the Blues before returning to his junior team, scored goals eight seconds apart on Friday as his Edmonton Oil Kings team won the Eastern Conference title and advanced to the Western Hockey League finals. Neighbors was one second off the WHL record for fastest two goals in the playoffs.
The Oil Kings will face either Kamloops or Seattle for the league title.
There is still a chance Neighbors and Zachary Bolduc, the Blues’ first pick in the 2021 draft, could meet in the Memorial Cup, the Canadian junior hockey championship. Bolduc’s team, Quebec Remparts, is in the QMJHL semifinals, where they trail Shawinigan 1-0 in the best-of-five series.
Next up for Avs: Edmonton
The Avalanche now move on to the Western Conference final with Edmonton, which starts on Tuesday in Denver. It’s a meeting of some of the best offensive players in the league in Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“A lot of challenges,” MacKinnon said Friday night. “Obviously they have two of the most dangerous players in the league right now. Maybe three with (Evander) Kane and a really deep team. Their structure, I think is underrated. Playing Edmonton all year, they have a really tight structure with (coach) Jay (Woodcroft) there. So, it’s a tough team to play against. They don’t give you much and they’re committed to both sides of the puck, despite the narrative around that team, obviously that’s probably changing now. But a really tough team to play against. It’s going to be a full-team effort to shut those guys down. Gotta stay out of the box as well, but we’re confident. We feel if we play our best, we can get it done against anybody. Obviously going to be a very tough series but we’re confident. Enjoy tonight, reset tomorrow and be ready.”
One member of Woodcroft’s coaching staff is Dave Manson, the father of Colorado defenseman Josh Manson. Josh said after the Game 6 win over the Blues that he heard from his father prior to the game.
“I reached out (Friday),” Josh said, “and he said, ‘Go win this game so I can come see my granddaughter.’ That’s No. 1 on his list of him. He wants to come to Colorado so he can see my daughter, his granddaughter. That was the important thing. So other than that, we haven’t really talked too much hockey. It’s just been family stuff as usual. It’s been that way my entire life growing up.”