(HockeyStL) -- The St. Louis Blues fans are grumbling after another exit in the playoffs due to an anemic offense from the same cast of characters.
Those wanting changes to the lineup should look away now because it is highly unlikely to happen through free agency, according to general manager Doug Armstrong.
“I don’t see this being a huge free agency offseason for us,” Armstrong said. “I see it more taking care of our own business and then seeing if we want to rearrange some of the chairs via trade, but I don’t see the player out there that’s going to really move the needle a lot in free agency.”
Armstrong said the team will make qualifying offers and negotiate with every restricted free agent on the roster. Some of the notable restricted free agents include Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo, Kris Russell, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ian Cole and Jake Allen.
The Blues have been ousted by the Los Angeles Kings in each of the last two playoffs and only once has St. Louis scored more than two goals in the 10 games played. While most would agree the Blues need to find more offense, it will have to likely come from within the team.
“This is a public cry that for any GM that have 50-goal scorers that they want to send to St. Louis, give me a call,” Armstrong said. “This doesn’t happen. You have to deal on a reality. The reality is, with free agency the way it is now, teams tie up those elusive top-end goal scorers. They draft them. (Evgeni) Malkin, (Sidney) Crosby, (Jonathan) Tavares, (Steven) Stamkos are drafted by those teams.”
Head coach Ken Hitchcock will meet with the players individually in the next few weeks to address expectations for next season. It’s something he believes won’t be easy for some.
“I think there is going to be an excitement level, but then once the excitement level wears off and the coach says ‘okay, this is what you need to do in the offseason,’ it’s not going to be comfortable,” Hitchcock said. “Whether they do it or not is going to determine whether we get to the next level, but it’s not going to be comfortable for some guys with what we’re asking them to do. But it’s necessary if you want to get to the next level.”
Hitchcock also added that it’s not becoming a better athlete in the offseason for some, but more of becoming a better player.
In January, many national media outlets thought the Blues would be strong Cup contenders. Inconsistent play coupled with underperforming stars became the main complaint from those outside the Scottrade Center as the Blues lingered in the 6-7-8 spots in the Western Conference near the end of the season.
“Are we frustrated? Yeah, we have players that have produced in the past that haven’t been able to get us over the hump in the playoffs, but they’re still in those prime years and ultimately we need the homegrown talent to start producing at the most important times,” Armstrong said. “With that being said, I believe the homegrown talent can produce at the times. But if we can improve our team, that’s our mandate. We’re always looking to get better.”
One of the homegrown players at the center of the fans’ frustrations is David Perron, who went through a 16-game goal drought. Expectations may have been too high for Perron after he posted 42 points in 57 games played after returning from a concussion last season. He registered 25 points, including 10 goals, in 48 games this year.
“The part about adding people, it’s not my job,” Perron said. “My job is to get better as a player. I think everyone can look at themselves and we all have a long summer to think about some of that stuff. I think when training starts again two or three weeks from now everyone can look at themselves and be better, myself included.”
The 24-year-old forward, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2015-16 season, recorded two assists and a minus-three rating in six playoff games.
“I think it’s here, but it’s convincing players,” Hitchcock said. “There’s a big difference between looking for space and fighting for space. I think it’s here. I think we have to teach players that it just isn’t the words we ask, it’s how we get the players to understand the overall commitment to get that next level going here.”