Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored 56 goals in 2005-06 to win the Maurice “The Rocket” Richard Trophy, signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 if he plays in the NHL and $225,000 if he plays with the Rivermen of the AHL. The latter seems like the more believable possibility.
Cheechoo saw a not-so-steady drop in his goal-numbers on the NHL stage since his amazing 56-goal run. He followed that up with 37 goals in 2006-07, 23 tallies in 2007-08 and then a depressing 12 goals in 2008-09. Cheechoo faced many nagging injuries, including groin problems and other ailments to his left leg. Cheechoo left the only team for which he had played after his disappointing season in 2008-09 (San Jose Sharks), when he was involved in the blockbuster trade that sent Dany Heatley from Ottawa to San Jose. As a member of the Senators that season, Cheechoo scored just 5 goals and 9 assists in 66 games, before he was sent to the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. In 25 games, Cheechoo contributed just 8 goals and 6 assists.
Last season, the Sharks gave Cheechoo another chance, giving him a contract to play as a member of the Worcester Sharks of the AHL. Cheechoo picked up his scoring-prowess, knotting 18 goals and 29 assists. Cheechoo’s 47 points led the team at the end of the season.
Can Cheechoo still be a solid contributor in the NHL?
It seems the sale of the Blues may go a lot quicker than originally expected.
It was announced in mid-March by Blues chairman and CEO Dave Checketts that the club was put up for sale. Checketts had been searching for a new investor since May of 2010 after the former investor, Towerbrook Capital Partners, pulled out their roughly 70 percent of ownership. Towerbrook and Checketts could not agree on the value of their shares, so Checketts and his firm, SCP Worldwide, decided to put their shares up for sale as well, which equaled close to 20 percent. The other 10 percent is controlled by minority owners, such as local businessman Tom Stillman. There has been little talk since about the sale of the team.
Oh, how things can change so quickly.
Heading into free-agency, the Blues were well-below the NHL salary floor. After securing RFA T.J. Oshie and bringing back winger Matt D’Agostini, the Blues dove right in to free-agency, signing goaltender Brian Elliott, defenseman Kent Huskins and forwards Scott Nichol, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott. These signings added approximately $7.20 million to the Blues’ salary totals, making everyone wonder where all of this money suddenly came from.
Last week, the same day that Langenbrunner and Arnott signed one-year contracts with the Blues, rumors leaked that the Blues had a few potential-owners bidding for the Blues’ rights.
Today, TSN.ca made those rumors become more of a reality.
These veteran signings just do not seem like they are going to stop.
The Blues, who are still without an owner, made another dive into the unrestricted free-agent pool today. Jamie Langenbrunner, 35, and Jason Arnott, 36, both agreed to one-year contracts worth $2.5 million each (possible to be $2.8 million after incentives). This comes just one day after the Blues agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract with 36-year old center Scott Nichol.
“We talked about wanting to add depth,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. “We feel that we've done that. We've done it through the middle with Arnott and Nichol. We've done it with Langenbrunner as a guy who can play in a number of different roles. They're guys who understand what it takes.”
Armstrong also told Jeremy Rutherford of stltoday that the Blues’ centers heading into the pre-season would be David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Arnott and Nichol. This means that Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie will officially move to the wing positions.
Langenbrunner has played in 15 NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils. He has scored 237 goals, 401 assists and 638 points in 1,035 NHL games. Langenbrunner is mostly considered a right-wing, but has been known to move to the left side. He is a penalty-kill specialist who can provide a little offense if put in the right situation.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free-agent Scott Nichol.
The deal is reportedly a one-way, one-year deal worth $600,000 with an additional $100,000 available in bonuses. Nichol was a member of the San Jose Sharks for the last two seasons.
The 36-year old center will step into the club as the oldest member on the roster. His veteran presence and leadership qualities were likely the main factors as to why the Blues felt he deserved a contract. He has played in nine NHL-seasons, contributing 52 goals, 66 assists and 118 points. Nichol has also been known to throw the body around as well, posting 808 penalty minutes in just 552 career NHL games.
Nichol will help solidify the center-position for the Blues, as they now have that all-important checking-line center. He will probably see a lot of ice-time with forwards B.J. Crombeen and youngster Philip McRae.
Not only can Nichol knock some heads around, but he is also well-known for being a face-off specialist. For players that took over 20 face-offs last season, Nichol ranked first on his team in face-off percentage (won 288 face-offs out of 485 total; 59.4%). The Blues were not impressive in the face-off circle by any means last season. They ranked 28th in the league with a dreadful 47.3% (the league-leader, Vancouver, finished with a 54.9%). It is very likely Nichol will be used in many situations to get that percentage up.
This weekend is all the proof I need to know that Blues GM Doug Armstrong checks LetsGoBlues.com on a daily basis.
On Wednesday, I wrote an article declaring what the Blues still had to do before July was over. Almost all of these have been met in just this past weekend. You can read the full article here.
This article had five requirements that the Blues had to meet in order to be successful in 2011-12. Let’s revisit these, shall we?
1. Qualified RFAs have to accept offers.
This requirement has not officially come to fruition… yet. A great step for this was when T.J. Oshie and Armstrong worked out a new deal that will keep Oshie in St. Louis for one more season. The one-year contract will pay Oshie $2.35 million next season, which is slightly higher than what Patrick Berglund ($2.25M) and David Perron ($2.15M) will make. Some feel that the Blues failed in getting Oshie locked up long-term; I do not agree. Oshie had troubles with reporting to practice last season which resulted in a two-game team-suspension. I expect Armstrong mentioned this during negotiations with Oshie and his agent, Matt Oates. This short deal will let the Blues assess Oshie’s worth for one more season and see if he can behave under the Blues’ policies. Signing players to long contracts while not officially having an owner is not a smart business move anyway.
The Blues still have Ben Bishop and Ryan Reaves sitting in the free-agent pool as restricted free-agents.
2. Fill the backup goaltender spot.