Contract negotiations with restricted free agent Lee Stempniak will continue this week. Stempniak’s agent Bob Murray last spoke with Blues GM Larry Pleau on Friday. No official numbers have been tossed around by either side.
Blues goaltending prospect Ben Bishop had knee surgery recently to repair a minor knee injury. The former third round selection will miss the entire development camp which began on Sunday.
Lars Eller, who the Blues took 13th overall in this past entry draft, could also miss the entire camp. The Danish product is recovering from a broken left wrist. Eller is scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday to determine if his wrist is strong enough to compete in the weeklong camp. Eller broke his wrist during training camp with the Danish men’s national team this past spring.
Patrick Berglund, a tall lanky forward the Blues selected with their second first round pick in the 2006 draft, may not participate in Blues training camp this September. Berglund’s season with Vasteras in the tier II Swedish league (Allsvenskan) begins on September 10th. We will see how this flies with John Davidson and Andy Murray.
The Blues used their last of three first round picks in last month’s draft on flashy forward David Perron. I have described his game as a player you automatically notice on the ice because of his ridiculous puck skills. You’ll also notice him right away because he wears the ugliest skates known to man! His white skates have got to go, a secret source has told me Andy Murray agrees and will make sure Perron has black skates on when the Lewiston MAINEiac returns for training camp in the fall.
Perron likes to show off which is fine if he can back it up when he faces pro competition. After his skating session on Sunday Perron picked up a puck and his hands began going nuts! There is no doubt the kid can dangle, fans will enjoy watching him in practice. If Perron’s desire and attitude can match his ability then watch out!
The Blues have invited skating guru Barry Karns of Minneapolis Minnesota to conduct skating sessions with the prospects prior to each practice. Murray got to know Karns within the last year or so when Karns was working with Murray’s son Jordy. Jordy is entering his senior season at hockey power Shattuck St. Mary’s high school in Minnesota and has committed to the University of Wisconsin.
Karns runs the highly successful Karns Skating Dynamics in the twin cities. KSD is the largest school of its kind in the country and Karns works with anywhere from 450-600 kids per week year round.
Hockey traditionalists would describe Karns teaching methods as a form of Power Skating, but Murray doesn’t like the term “Power Skating” instead preferring “Better Skating”. Murray told me Karns isn’t teaching hockey players how to skate with power, he’s teaching them how to skate better. Murray wrote “skate better to make us better” on the board inside the meeting room.
Karns says he like the term better skating and will continue to use it.
The prospects without contracts aren’t the only ones trying to impress John Davidson and company this week. Karns is also hoping the Blues like what they see from him! Murray would like to have Karns come to St. Louis routinely throughout the season to work with his NHL club.
Karns charges a hefty fee and Pleau wisely told him the Blues wanted to see his work before hiring him.
Blues super prospect Erik Johnson first began working with Karns when he was a little kid. Johnson and Karns are both from Bloomington Minnesota. Karns describes Johnson as one of those freakish athletes and as being “physically intelligent”, meaning you can show video to Johnson of his skating and EJ can immediately point out his deficiencies, then have them corrected by the next skating session.
Karns who is 45 years old runs KSD with his wife who was once a highly competitive figure skater. FYI, Barry’s wife was once his skating instructor, on their first date they went skating. For some reason I felt like I had to throw that in there.
Working in a hockey hotbed like the twin cities, which has the second most hockey players (per 1,000 people) in the world behind Toronto, has allowed Karns to stay busy right at home. He is currently a consultant of the Calgary Flames and formerly worked with the Phoenix Coyotes organization for four years.
The new CBA allows NHL coaches to be on the ice during their NHL prospect/development camps. In the past camps could last up to two weeks but NHL coaches were not allowed on the ice. Under the new CBA prospect/development camps cannot last more than a week long.
Murray has invited several NCAA and Major Junior coaches to participate in weeklong coaching sessions. There are two sessions a day and are run by members of the Blues management and coaching staff.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise but I thought I would throw it out there. The Blues are done with free agency. Any roster changes from this point forward will only come via trade.
Martin Kariya, who has a shot at making the NHL roster, was excited when he found out his brother Paul had signed with St. Louis. Martin, seven years younger than Paul, was away at a cabin and had no cell service and didn’t find out until a few days later.
Martin Kariya led the highly skilled and competitive Finnish Elite League in scoring last season and was a member of Team Canada’s world championships roster. Kariya never suited up for a game in the tournament but practiced daily. Because he wasn’t an NHL player Kariya would only be allowed to play if he was replacing an injured player.
The Blue and Gold scrimmage on Friday (7:00) will be played like a regular game with officials, national anthems, and 20 minute periods.
Ryan Reaves (Brandon WHL) did not skate on Sunday due his hockey equipment getting lost while traveling. He apparently has a Shaq sized foot and the Blues equipment staff couldn’t find any skates large enough for the Winnipeg native.
Congrats to Blues defenseman Barret Jackman who married his new bride Jen this past Friday in Hawaii.
More to come,