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Blues expect to target defense this off-season, begin talks with Alex Pietrangelo

Jun 22, 2012, 8:09 AM EDT

Alex Pietrangelo Getty Images

The 2012 NHL Awards represented a special evening for the St. Louis Blues’ front office, with head coach Ken Hitchcock winning the Jack Adams and Doug Armstrong winning the GM of the Year award. Next season will present one of the best tests in sports, however: can they maintain that success and then build on it?

Making shrewd decisions during the off-season will be a big part of that process. Both Hitchcock and Armstrong indicated that the team won’t make too many significant moves, yet both admitted that they need another defenseman.

Interestingly enough, Armstrong said that he’s looking for more than a seventh guy who might just be a regular healthy scratch, though.

“We’re not looking to add a seventh defenseman, we’re looking to add a defenseman in our top four,” Armstrong said. “Now, that’s easier said than done also. You look at that market out there right now, if we have to wait until July 1 there’s going to be a lot of people wanting those players so it might have to come via trade.”

Armstrong pointed out that the Blues still need to make some decisions on the team’s own unrestricted free agents, yet he believes that internal growth might be accelerated simply by improved health – especially at the forward position.

Pietrangelo negotiations?

One interesting negotiation process on the horizon comes regarding stud defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. He’s about to enter the final year of his current deal, so the Blues will get their first chance to re-up him on July 1, if they chose to go in that direction. With the whopping deals handed out to Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson, the price for high-end young defensemen is booming in the NHL, so we got Armstrong’s take on how that process might go.

“With the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations going on, we have the opportunity to decide if we want to do that,” Armstrong said. “It won’t be in early July. We’ll let the dust settle on free agency and the dust settle on building our roster. If they’d like to sign we’d certainly love to sign him, he’s a big part of our future. But if it goes into the next season or goes into next summer I’m not too concerned … I think we’ll be safe.”

  1. kingfooj - Jun 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    The playoffs struck me with the notion that they had O needs

    • kingfooj - Jun 22, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      O as in offense, for all you kids that’ll take think thats a zero….

    • danphipps01 - Jun 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      No kidding. They really need a top-line scoring winger more than anything. Their D’s great, their goaltending’s even better, they’ve got all the defensive forwards they could possibly put to use, but they really, really need some firepower. Bobby Ryan’s supposedly up for grabs. He fits the bill spectacularly.

    • mickeyb21 - Jun 22, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      As a Blues fan, I think the defense was a problem versus the Kings. Pietrangelo needed a good partner and as soon as he went down, the defense fell apart. The Blues already have a forward coming over from Russia that should help with the offense. Still think they might try for a little more offense but would not be surprised if it is just a 3C they get. They really just need a partner for Pietrangelo. Weber had Suter, Pietrangelo needs that steady-type partner to form a real shut down pairing.

  2. eggserino - Jun 22, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Blues play a defensive system. Schwartz and Tarasenko are considered offensive prospects. Additionally, Perron was out for half a year. While they didn’t show a ton of scoring in the second round, the Blues had no problem scoring in the first round. Additionally, they jumped about 6 or 7 spots to just outside of the top ten in goal scoring in the final months of the regular season.

    To say that they need offense might be a little misleading.

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