Some good info in here on his expectations on the signings he made, the roster for the upcoming season, the Schwartz negotiations, etc...http://live.stltoday.com/Event/Blues_ch ... _47?Page=0
This is Doug Armstrong. We'll start in just a couple of minutes. Please start sending in your questions.
by Doug Armstrong 10:28 AM
Hi Doug! How is the process going with Jaden Schwartz?
by Devin 10:31 AM
We're in the initial process. I had a conversation with Jaden's agent yesterday and we're working towards getting him signed. This could take some time but we're comfortable that he will be at training camp.
by Doug Armstrong 10:32 AM
What does the sign of Chris Butler mean for Ian Cole. Is Cole still penciled in to be a fixture in the top 6?
by pw 10:32 AM
Yes. We believe that you need eight qualified defensemen before the season. Right now, we have seven established players and Chris' responsibility is to come in here and unseat one of the seven players ahead of him. But Ian is going to be given every opportunity to earn a regular spot in our group of six.
by Doug Armstrong 10:33 AM
Doug, thank you so much for joining this chat. In your estimation, are you able to put a timeline on some of the bigger name prospects, i.e. Fabbri, Barbashev, Rattie, Hakanpaa, Edmonson? Do you feel that you have a general idea of what kind of players these guys will be or can they surprise you? I think we as fans tend to put a little more hope on the potential of prospects that can often bite us later when they develop.
by Blues1212 10:33 AM
In general with an 18-year-old draft, you're looking at players playing in year 4-5, unless you're picking the top 4-5 in the draft. So with this year's picks, Fabbri and Barbashev, we look at them playing major junior at least one more season and in Fabrri's case, two more seasons. And Barbashev will turn pro after this year. Our general belief is to put players in a position to succeed, not fail, so we try not to rush the process. With that being said, Hakanpaa and Edmundson have been three-plus years since their draft and we expect them to be pushing for games this season. The same can be said for Ty Rattie.
by Doug Armstrong 10:35 AM
Doug, I'm an Ott fan, but where do you see him playing this year in our line up?
by matt 10:35 AM
We look at him as a solid utility forward. He can play center ice or left wing. We like the grit that he brings to our organization and his ability to affect the game in ways that aren't seen just on the scoresheet.
by Doug Armstrong 10:36 AM
Some of the moves made look like they are pushing Jaskin and Paajarvi out of the lineup. Where do you see these two coming into the season?
by Andrew 10:36 AM
Both will be given the opportunity to compete for the opening-night roster, but the addition of Lehtera, Stastny has made that competition stronger. A successful organization starts with internal competition and we have that.
by Doug Armstrong 10:37 AM
A lot of questions were raised when Hitch only signed a one-year extension. Does that mean it is a "get it done" year or else the franchise will look in another direction?
by Anthony 10:37 AM
Ken and I have open dialogue and his desire now is to coach a year at a time, evaluate his passion to continue and make sure he has the desire to do it. At some point, Ken will take a different role in our organization as a senior advisor and he and I will discuss that after next year. But Ken is a top coach in this game and we will not be rushing him out the door.
by Doug Armstrong 10:38 AM
A lot of people think the Polak move weakened the Blues too much in terms of physicality. Do you feel that's a glaring weakness?
by Anthony 10:38 AM
No. I believe the game played now with transition. We think that having a puck-moving defense will add to our offense and allow our skill players the opportunity to produce. Physical defense can be shown in many different ways. What we have are smart-defending players with positional and stick play and can hold their own physically. I think Polak's departure creates an outstanding opportunity for Ian Cole, who has the physical assets to do what Roman has done for us in the past. We understand what Roman brought to our team and thank him for his time, but you have to give up something of value to get something of value.
by Doug Armstrong 10:40 AM
What's been the toughest move to make since becoming GM of the Blues?
by brad.arl 10:40 AM
Doing these chats. Seriously, I think using core players to acquire new players is always difficult. Starting with Erik Johnson, somebody who I have the utmost respect for but was a duplicate player with Rundblad and Pietrangelo at that time. Moving any players you know personally is the most difficult part of the job.
by Doug Armstrong 10:41 AM
How do you see Patrik Berglund fitting into the lineup this year? What role will he have?
by Zack 10:41 AM
Patrik is in our group of nine and provides Ken some flexibility by using him at either left wing or center. I think the strength of our team three or four years ago with Berglund, Arnott and Backes showed how difficult it is to defend three large centers and Ken now has the option with Backes, Lehtera, Berglund and Stastny to use three of those four players at that position.
by Doug Armstrong 10:42 AM
How did you sneak a draft pick in there from Toronto in the Polak-Gunnarsson trade?
by Andrew 10:43 AM
I think that shows the respect that Roman has around the NHL. He's thought of as a quality, strong defender and something that Toronto coveted. In return, we believe we were out to maximize by getting Gunnarsson and the pick.
by Doug Armstrong 10:44 AM
What has changed your mind about having Elliott start since the Ryan Miller trade?
by sully 10:45 AM
I think it is more the tandem of Elliott and Allen that intrigues us. The reality is when you look at Elliott's numbers, he can do nothing more than he has done to put himself in this position. And with the growth of Allen, we felt it was time to go this direction. Also, in dealing in a cap system, we are able to take the savings from what Miller received in Vancouver and add that in other areas of need up front.
by Doug Armstrong 10:46 AM
Thanks for taking the time for this, Doug.
You completely bolstered the center position this summer without trading away any of our prospects . Was that a goal at both the club and prospect level? Or something that happened out of circumstance?
by Taylor 10:46 AM
It was an area where we felt we needed to strengthen. Adding Stastny and not having to make a trade is certainly beneficial to the depth of our team. With regards to the draft, we were fortunate that there was a number of quality centers available when we were selecting this season.
by Doug Armstrong 10:47 AM
When should I get my "Stanley Cup Champions" tattoo?
by AJ CCP Grad 10:47 AM
Hopefully very soon.
by Doug Armstrong 10:47 AM
When will the pain ease from this Sobotka departure?
by Bonesaw 10:48 AM
Experience has shown me that you have to move forward quickly. We were able to sign Steve Ott when it became clear that Vladimir was going to the KHL. Like all people involved in our industry, no one player, coach or manager is more important than the team. I believe that we have the depth to move forward, but we're also looking forward to Vladimir coming back to the NHL when he feels the time is right.
by Doug Armstrong 10:49 AM
Who's the prospect you expect to come up and blow everyone's mind this year?
by Bonesaw 10:49 AM
I believe it would be unfair to expect any prospect to blow our mind based on the fact that we are an above-average NHL team. With that being said, I am looking forward to watching Jaskin and Allen at training camp to see if they can step in and compete to the same level of a Schwartz and Tarasenko two short years ago.
by Doug Armstrong 10:50 AM
As a GM I know you are always looking to improve the team. Overall though where do you see the Blues in terms of completeness?
by DaBlues 10:50 AM
My feeling is this is the most complete team that we've had since my arrival. The two question marks really are how Lindstrom and Lehtera will adjust to the NHL level. There is very little gray area in what we expect from Stastny, Gunnarsson and a full season with Steve Ott.
by Doug Armstrong 10:51 AM
Does Lehtera bring more to the table as a Center or Left wing?
by Bluely_Noted 10:52 AM
We view him as a potential play-making center, but I have seen him play on the wing at international events. His versatility makes him a valuable asset and I'm hoping he can have a positive effect on our power play, as those are some of his greatest skills.
by Doug Armstrong 10:52 AM
Hey Doug, with the Ott/Sobotka move do you still see Bergie and Backes playing on the winger positions or moving one of them over to a center position?
by Steve 10:53 AM
The answer is no because Sobotka played both wing and center. A lot of this will be answered in Lehtera's ability to play center in a top-nine role and if that is there, then Backes can slide to the right wing or Berglund to the left wing.
by Doug Armstrong 10:54 AM
Since Sobotka will owe the Blues 1 season, how will this be handled? Can he join the team after his KHL season or will he be required to play 1 full year with
the Blues before UFA eligibility?
by ObiRob16 10:54 AM
Vladimir will owe one season upon his return from the KHL to the Blues. If it's in the 2015-16 season, great. Or if we have to wait, we understand.
by Doug Armstrong 10:55 AM
In the Brett Hull days 40-50 goal scorers were almost common. Now it's rare to see a guy score that many goals. What happened to all of the elite goal scorers?
by Chris 10:56 AM
I think it is more the goalie's improvement with size, athleticism and equipment than it is to the scorers not being able to score. I'm a firm believer that to increase scoring at some point we may have to alter the size of the nets.
by Doug Armstrong 10:56 AM
It seems that you were happy with the draft but did Chicago by trading up to get Schmaltz surprise you?
by george 10:57 AM
No. You have to be prepared for movement. We believe Nick Schmaltz is an excellent prospect, but we believe he was in a group of players that we were very comfortable getting. We did not believe using a second-round pick to move up one or two slots was the best use of our assets.
by Doug Armstrong 10:58 AM
Which Central Division team other than the Blues do you think improved the most from last season?
by bluenotebacker 10:58 AM
Dallas. I would say with the addition of Spezza down the middle, they have an excellent 1-2 punch with he and Seguin. I think Jim Nill has done a tremendous job in 14 short months making Dallas relevant again in the NHL.
by Doug Armstrong 10:59 AM
It would seem that the Hawks signing Kane and Toews to monster deals could limit them and benefit us possibly. Your thoughts?
by BCBohn 11:00 AM
Certainly the two players have earned the contract extensions by being two-time Stanley Cup Champions. With that being said, putting so much resources into a small amount of players can be dangerous. Not that the players will not perform, but with injuries in our game, anything can happen. Also, we don't have a crystal ball on how revenues will continue to grow and that could be a positive or negative, depending on what the future holds.
by Doug Armstrong 11:01 AM
Can Lindstrom play right wing and what is his ceiling realistically in the Blues lineup? With the talent level in the current top six it looks hard to crack.
by Bluely_Noted 11:01 AM
He will be given every opportunity to play in an area where he can have success. Our belief is that that is in a top offensive role, more than in an energy-checking role. Training camp will be very important for him to make a strong impression on his teammates and coaches, alike.
by Doug Armstrong 11:02 AM
How excited are you to have these line combination possibilities? I know you said Hitch is going to need an eraser over the summer putting these lines together. haha
by Devin 11:02 AM
I certainly like having as many options available to the coaches that we have. With that being stated, I know players want continuity in the lineup and I'm hoping synergy can be found quickly, so that we can have a consistent group on a nightly basis.
by Doug Armstrong 11:03 AM
What rules would you change if you had the power?
by Chris 11:04 AM
As I stated earlier, I think we need to look at increasing goal production, and to that making the nets wider by two inches and taller by one inch could have a positive effect. I know that I am in the minority in that position, as we stand today.
by Doug Armstrong 11:04 AM
What is your favorite restaurant in St. Louis?
by Andrew 11:05 AM
Café Napoli and Paul Manno's
by Doug Armstrong 11:05 AM
How has the transition been from owning your AHL affiliate to working with the Wolves.
by Josh 11:05 AM
It's had both positive and negative aspects to it. But after a year, we're much more comfortable in understanding Chicago's needs and they understanding ours. The positive is, when trying to sign depth players, the Chicago city and market is a draw to some other AHL towns.
by Doug Armstrong 11:06 AM
What do you think of the move to advanced statistics in hockey? Do the Blues have any proprietary statistical analysis you use and for how long has it been implemented? Have you worked with any of the MIT Sloan Stat guys?
by Eli 11:06 AM
I believe strongly in advanced stats. We brought the company that I worked with in Dallas to St. Louis and have worked with them in growing how to exploit different areas of the game. I think you have to be careful to use it as a tool and not the end-all, be-all.
by Doug Armstrong 11:07 AM
Do you support the removal of the Instigator Rule, or think it will ever be removed?
by bluenotebacker 11:07 AM
I do not think it will ever be removed for the sole reason that concussions are a major area of concern in all sports and I think it would be taking a step backwards to promote something that could cause a concussion. With that being said, I think there is room for fighting in our game to deter players that play on the wrong side of the line.
by Doug Armstrong 11:08 AM
Hey Doug, thanks for these chats! What are your expectations for Tarasenko this next season? I think we all know what kind of potential he has in the scoring department. Could this be his big breakthrough season?
by Ty 11:09 AM
I think Tarasenko's abilities are limitless. He is going to have to continue to produce with a brighter spotlight on him, but he showed that he can do that last year in the playoffs. Vladimir is one of the few players in our game that can score from distance, as well as from in tight. He has the potential to be a true game-breaker.
by Doug Armstrong 11:10 AM
Wow you answered both my questions, thank you very much. Go Blues.
by Bluely_Noted 11:10 AM
No problem, thanks for your support.
by Doug Armstrong 11:10 AM
Favorite sport/team other than hockey?
by Zack 11:11 AM
Detroit Lions. Growing up just outside of Detroit in Southern Ontario, I admired Billy Sims.
by Doug Armstrong 11:12 AM
We're seeing an increase in quality players leaving for the KHL. How big of a problem do you see this becoming and what can NHL teams do to stop it?
by IHABTom 11:12 AM
I actually see it the total opposite. More players are leaving the KHL to come to the NHL because they want to compete in the best league and against the best players.
by Doug Armstrong 11:12 AM
I hear talk of different team models to win, the Chicago model, and LA Kings model, previously the Detroit or Penguins model. What is the Armstrong/Hitch model? Where are the key points in the lineup and how do we match up relative to peers.
by Sctdog 11:14 AM
I think quality teams have always been built down the middle of the ice, meaning strong defense and strong center icemen. I believe that our defense core should rank as one of the tops in the NHL and we are working to get stronger at the center ice position through the acquisition of Stastny and Lehtera, plus the drafting of Fabbri.
by Doug Armstrong 11:15 AM
First off, thanks for the chat and very well done on the Stastny signing. This is the first big name free agent to come to St. Louis in a while. Will the Blues become big free agency players, or was this a special case of finding the right guy and not giving in?
by Anthony 11:15 AM
I would say that it's finding the right player at the right time. When you look at our roster now and the dollar commitments we have moving forward, I don't see us becoming big players in free agency unless high-contract dollars are moved.
by Doug Armstrong 11:16 AM
Can we expect to see more ice time for Tarasenko this season? It's very puzzling for one to watch the best pure goal scorer on the Blues continuosly sit the bench in key goal scoring situations like overtime and late in the third period.
by j_mosley4 11:16 AM
That is certainly a coaching decision, but Ken and I have discussed getting he and Schwartz more involved in key situations.
by Doug Armstrong 11:17 AM
Doug, can you provide some details on the minor league goalie situation? Obviously, Binnington is ready for AHL time, but there's been talk of Lundstrom being ready to go there, and that doesn't even factor in the possible need for a veteran there. Do we know what the plan is with that situation yet?
by PatrickK 11:17 AM
With our relationship in Chicago, they have Climie signed as one of the two. We envision Binnington competing with him for ice time, and Lundstrom starting in the East Coast Hockey League. All that changes with good or bad play by any of the three.
by Doug Armstrong 11:18 AM
Hey Army, thanks for the chat. When you have such an abrupt ending to a season as we saw last year, how much pressure do you feel as a GM to build a team that will "deliver?"
by IHABTom 11:18 AM
I don't feel any more or less pressure because our goal is to always build a championship team. Frustration is a different story. Our level of disappointment was the greatest I have felt in my 20-plus years working in the NHL.
by Doug Armstrong 11:19 AM
Hey Doug! Thanks so much for doing these. Does Jake Allen have a chance to be the #1 goalie?
by Dylan 11:19 AM
Jake is going to be given the opportunity to compete from Day 1 at training camp with Elliott. But as the norm in our game, the incumbent has the inside track and Jake is going to have to wrestle away ice time from Elliott, as it won't just be given to him.
by Doug Armstrong 11:20 AM
A lot of fans (including myself) were pleased and surprised that Lehtera signed with the Blues this season, how long were you guys in talks with him and were you surprised that he decided to come to the NHL?
by JohnHeuer 11:20 AM
For the better part of four years. We thought we had him signed two years ago, but at the end, he went back to the KHL. This was our last opportunity to sign him before he became an unrestricted free agent.
by Doug Armstrong 11:20 AM
How can you say Oshie is a 3rd line player ... just because you paid Stastny to much??/ Not fair to Osh
by cortney edited by Doug Armstrong 11:22 AM
I personally believe that first and third line are interchangeable in our structure. Our strength and our depth is based on nine quality forwards playing against everyone and anyone in any given situation. Our team gets better when we can share the workload and hopefully that will make us stronger and fresher as we get to the end of the season and hopefully the postseason. T.J. Oshie will always be a main contributor and will be counted on to produce at the same level or higher if we want to be successful.
by Doug Armstrong 11:23 AM
What is your favorite part of the job? Least favorite, besides these chats?
by Mike C 11:24 AM
The favorite part is the competition. It's the 7-9:30 on game nights that gets your adrenaline going. The most difficult part of the job is contract negotiations. Trying to maintain a professional relationship while giving bad news is always a balance that we have to maintain.
by Doug Armstrong 11:25 AM
We've been hearing "this is our year" quite a bit the past couple of seasons. What makes this season different for us?
by Brendan 11:25 AM
I think every year we want to put a product on the ice that is viewed upon as a contending team. My belief is the more we do that, the more likely we are to have the ultimate success.
by Doug Armstrong 11:26 AM
Doug, based on CapGeek, the Blues are already close to the salary cap. What do you think, could you manage to keep Schwartz without trading somebody?
by Zsolt edited by Doug Armstrong 11:26 AM
Yes, we have the space to make sure Jaden will be in our lineup. All players have different leverage points in their careers and Jaden will make his money without question. But right now, he's a restricted free agent.
by Doug Armstrong 11:27 AM
How do you deal with fan reactions to deals you make? Blues fans seem to get especially attached to certain players and even moves that ultimately make us better are often met with equal amounts of happiness and anger. Do you just stay off the internet? Rise above the comments? Or feel confident enough with decisions to where arm chair GM's don't really effect you?
by djs9pd 11:27 AM
I love the passion that the St. Louis fans have for the players. The reality is the fans pay to watch the players perform and become attached to them. But ultimately, my job is to make difficult decisions and I do that with always trying to keep what's best for the franchise in mind. I hope that our fans never lose that connection with our players and that passion they have towards Blues' hockey.
by Doug Armstrong 11:28 AM
These have been good questions. Let's take a few more....
by Doug Armstrong 11:29 AM
How does the cap look for the next 3-4 years with he young guns getting ready for new contracts.
by Mattwhelan 11:31 AM
Managing our salary structure and cap will be the most difficult part of management over the next three years. The majority of our players will be entering unrestricted free agency, which possesses its own issues, so we're going to have to make very difficult decisions as we move forward. The strength of any organization is its younger players coming and we will have to make sure we create space when they have shown us that they are ready to perform.
by Doug Armstrong 11:32 AM
What is it like working for the Stillman ownership group?
by Hitch's Hat 11:33 AM
Local ownership group has been committed to the product on the ice like no other before. We are a mid-market team that plays at or near the salary cap, and that is only a reflection of local ownership's intent on bringing a championship team to St. Louis.
by Doug Armstrong 11:34 AM
I'd like to thank everyone for joining us today and wish everyone a safe and happy summer. And I look forward to seeing you at the Mills for training camp, but more importantly Oct. 9 for our home opener against the Rangers.
by Doug Armstrong 11:34 AM