With the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals both finished their playoffs, Frank Seravalli and Mike McKenna discuss which of the two teams will perform better next year:
Frank Seravalli: Let’s talk about two teams whose playoff streak is officially over; the Washington Capitals were officially knocked out of the playoffs, no real shock, same with the St. Louis Blues, who have done so in nine of the last 10 years. It’s been an incredible streak of success for Alex Ovechkin and the Caps, and the same goes for the Blues as both teams won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and 2019. But they’re kind of tied at the hip now with the two teams having against players, both selling out at the deadline significantly. Which team is more likely to bounce back into the playoffs next season, the Caps or the Blues?
mike mckenna: I think it’s St. Louis. Even since the trade deadline when they brought in Jakub Vrana and Sammy Blais, they’re 9-6-2. You can’t really take the end of this season and project it into next year. But I think with the Blues what you can do is that their salary and contract structure for next year is sort of set. I think they still need to go for a center and get a high forward; of course, with the departure of Ryan O’Reilly, this has taken a toll. But Pavel Buchnevich plays in the center, and maybe they think he can fill this role. They’re going to have to rework Core D for the Blues because they have Faulk, Krug, Parayko, Leddy, Bortuzzo and Scandella, that’s your top six, and I think that needs to change if your Doug Armstrong. They also brought Joel Hofer into the net and, as far as we know, could play better than Jordan Binnington. So I think the Blues have a better chance of rebounding than Washington, and to me that’s an aging team that needs a lot of work on that roster. They need forwards; they have about five and a half defenders; I just think the Blues are closer.
Frank Seravalli: I agree, but the only thing I will say about Washington is that they have this cap flexibility. As they went ahead and renewed these guys, they signed Nick Jensen for an extension, they also signed Trevor van Riemsdyk for an extension. They traded for Rasmus Sandin using one of those picks they got. They’re kind of back to square one when it comes to draft selection capital, and that’s sort of why I’m leaning toward St. Louis.
I’ve talked about it several times this season; just look at Doug Armstrong’s playbook, whatever he sold, whether it was Kevin Shattenkirk or Paul Stastny, he then used the picks he acquired to release next summer and got Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn, they were huge plays for the Blues. Now they’re sitting here armed with two more first-round picks in what’s already a special draft. Seek to use this capital to improve in the short term. I think they see it as if it’s not that different from Vancouver and other markets; with Kyrou and Thomas, the defense that we have, we’re probably not going to hit rock bottom in a crazy way where we have to rebuild but have to re-equip. They have this fundamental core to be able to do that.
mike mckenna: Yeah, Kyrou and Thomas are pretty exciting. The only thing Washington has is about $7.5 million of cap space that they can play with, and they have marketable assets that they could move for some return. I’m interested to see what they do at the back because Orlov’s departure was big, and I think they’re going to have to try to get Conor Sheary back, but man he’ll be worth well over 1.5 million dollars next season.
You can watch the full episode here…