In the days following a quick exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock talked about the evolution of his team, understanding the components necessary to succeed in the Western Conference and learning from the lessons provided in losing. Hitchcock said multiple times that the six-game series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference First Round provided the Blues a complete evaluation of where they stand and what they still needed to do to become a Stanley Cup contender.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has tried to use that free-of-charge and oh-so-painful evaluation as his blueprint for the summer.
The Blackhawks showed the Blues that they needed to be better down the middle, so Armstrong signed Paul Stastny, the best center available on the free-agent market, to a four-year, $28 million contract. He also signed Finnish center Jori Lehtera, who tied for third in scoring with 12 points in 10 games at the 2014 IIHF World Championship, to a two-year, $5.5 million contract.