Managing the hat space is tough, but losing Blues captain O’Reilly will be even harder

Since Ryan O’Reilly is Ryan O’Reilly, this blues season isn’t going to play with some cloud hanging over the captain’s head.

Some — perhaps even his O’Reilly teammates — will use an unknown future to dramatize a major player entering the final season of his contract before the arrival of unrestricted free agency.

O’Reilly was given that opportunity when he entered this bootcamp.

And like 2020, when he poured cold water on what would have been a controversy over teammate Vladimir Tarasenko expressing disappointment over O’Reilly’s selection of him as team captain, O’Reilly did everything in his power to shut down any signal. of conspiracies.

“I definitely think that’s where I want to be and move on and so on,” he said. “I think things will play out by themselves. I’m just trying to focus on the season, the players and getting ready here. I’m not worried about things not going right. We’ll see how it goes.”

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The general manager of blues, Doug Armstrong, sings the same tune. Both sides are open to negotiation during the season. Neither of them wants to make a mess, whether it leads to O’Reilly’s stretch or the captain in the open market. He thinks O’Reilly is telling the truth when he says he wants to stay here. This does not mean that he will get a huge discount either.

Hopefully this thread is headed down the same path as the last extension which didn’t seem to have much traction until it was suddenly finished. This was not a player. It was an extension of Stanley Cup champion coach Craig Beerup. Of course the blues will stretch the leader. but when? Then they did. Doesn’t O’Reilly feel the same kind of bedrock?

He is the first to leave on the ice and the last to leave. Investing in him again makes all the players in the team better, and perhaps most importantly the two teams in which the Blues have invested most, strikers Robert Thomas and Jordan Cairo. The Blues decided that these two are the future of this team. Aren’t they more likely to be better players in the future by playing more seasons with O’Reilly? It certainly looks like that.

But it is not that easy, of course. Berube’s contract did not affect the salary cap. Extension for O’Reilly will. And putting on a blues hat is tougher than a spacer beard after cooking the chili, and it’s tighter than the tape on a hockey stick. Many hat professionals have decided that the blues have already positioned themselves in such a way that an O’Reilly extension is impossible. But when you talk to people close to this team, they admit that while they’re saying different versions of the same question: They can’t let it go, can they?

One recent trend is that if you’re a significant player in the Blues and don’t have an agreement with Armstrong on an extension by the time you start your last season under contract, your chances of getting a new deal are slim. David Bucks is no longer the former blues captain. Alex Petrangelo is no longer the former Blues captain. Jaden Schwartz is no longer. No longer David Byron. I can’t imagine many legitimately expecting Tarasenko, who in the past has expressed a desire to play for a different team, to find common ground with the Blues after seasons on the commercial stage.

Compare that to extensions of Brayden Schenn, Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk, Jordan Binnington, Robert Thomas and now Jordan Kyrou. All extensions signed before or very early in the final seasons of their contracts prior to the arrival of unrestricted free agency.

So yes, there are real reasons to believe this season could be O’Reilly’s last season in St. Louis.

And if the blues don’t conflict here, it probably is.

They should go against the tide here.

Given O’Reilly’s importance to this team, the Blues’ proper call to call him captain after Petrangelo’s departure, and the keystone components he brings into the locker room and ice every day shout that this is a needle Armstrong needs to hook.

Take out others if necessary. Let Tarasenko pursue those greener pastures he seems determined to believe await him elsewhere. Make Berube’s job easier by maintaining an experienced tournament veteran who remains among the best two-way spots in the league.

If you need another reason why the Blues need to keep O’Reilly for seasons to come, just take a look at how he’s approaching this conversation about his future.

He’s just going to work, just doing his job, just focusing on what’s out there right now.

Berube’s blue-collar sweatshirt doesn’t have a leader ready to fill O’Reilly’s shoes.

Armstrong should know that, right?

Bearing O’Reilly will take the work, but for now the Blues don’t look like a team that can afford to let him go.

At least not if they’re serious about winning big again soon.

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