Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/3/12

St. Louis Blues fans have been waiting for new ownership for two years, hoping that more resources could be pumped into the organization. Two months after taking over the club, Tom Stillman is aware of those expectations, but he's also aware of the roster that he's inheriting.

The Blues finished two points shy of the winning President's Trophy, earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and advanced to the second round of the playoffs before falling to Los Angeles, the eventual Stanley Cup champion.

"It's a team that last year put up 109 points, the second-most points in the National Hockey League," Stillman said. "It's a team that through the season and the playoffs learned a great deal about what it takes to be a better team. I think everybody likes our position. It doesn't mean we might not do a little 'this or that,' but we've got a strong proposition there."

Stillman acknowledged that the continued rise in the NHL salary cap causes issues for clubs like the Blues. The cap will be $70.2 million in 2012-13, a year after the Blues spent $54 million (under previous ownership). The budget might be increased this year, but only marginally.

"As the cap keeps going up, it makes it more difficult for a mid-market team to be competitive -- that's kind of stating the obvious," Stillman said. "You have the revenues of a minority of the markets -- the larger markets that are pulling that up because their revenue bases are so large -- and yet we're all subject to that same structure. It just makes it harder for a mid-market team to compete with the Torontos and the Montreals and the Philadelphias.

"I don't see us being a cap team anytime soon, but we definitely can compete. If I thought we couldn't put a contending team on the ice, I wouldn't have done this."

Stillman is keeping his eye on the future, though, because several of the Blues' young core players will need new deals soon. Defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are two of them.

"My responsibility is to the franchise and its health today and its stability long term," Stillman said. "I have to make decisions based on that. That shouldn't be read to mean that we're not doing anything because we've got to be safe. Part of those considerations are 'What do we have to do to put a competitive, contending team on the ice?' But I believe we have provided a budget level to the hockey guys that enables them to put a competitive, contending team on the ice."

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