Veteran started the season on the fourth line, is now playing with Backes and Oshie.
Hitchcock had the team's upcoming opponents in mind when he made the change.
#HockeyFightsCancer got underway Tuesday and will run through Nov. 17.
Fellow center Lehtera, recovering from flu, should be ready Thursday.
Rookie shared the lead in shots on goal Sunday with four.
Blues Head Coach Davis Payne will have a different roster to work with heading into 2011-12.
The Blues’ opening day roster will have at least four new faces since the end of last season. The Blues have brought in free-agents Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol, Kent Huskins and Brian Elliot over the summer. Elliott and Ben Bishop will be battling for the back-up goalie role behind starter Jaroslav Halak.
With these moves, the Blues’ average age has jumped from 26.121 at the end of last season to 27.428 currently. Obviously, Blues management felt that a little more veteran presence was needed to move this team forward.
But what does this mean for Payne?
Spanning over two seasons, the young head coach has posted a 61-48-15 record. While over .500, the Blues team is yet to see a playoff berth under Payne. It seems that it is pretty much do or die for the coach in 2011-12.
It has been obvious since Ryan Reaves’ first call-up that if Cam Janssen were to go elsewhere, Reaves would be the first to get the opportunity to take his role. So why does it seem that he may not get the same opportunity as Janssen once had?
Saturday, Janssen signed a one-year contract with the club that originally drafted him, the New Jersey Devils. This means the “tough-guy role” is now vacant in St. Louis.
The Blues followed this news up by signing Reaves, 24, to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $525,000 when a member of the Blues and $105,000 when playing with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. Reaves was the last remaining restricted free-agent that the Blues had not come to terms with yet.
Reaves was signed to be the Blues’ new enforcer… but a spot on the big club just cannot be handed to the first guy with a big bag of knuckles this coming season. That may have been the case a few seasons ago when the Blues did not have as high of expectations as they do now.
It’s kind of related to the job market nowadays. Before the recession, a company would hire someone for a certain position. Once that person left after the recession, they just simply delete that position if they feel that the remaining employees can just step in to do the workload that now has no one to do it.
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.