We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the St. Louis Blues.
By: Melissa Esing (@Off_thePost)
2013 Season: 52-23-7 111 pts – (2nd Central Conference; 3rd Western Conference)
Free Agents Signed:
D Chris Butler (Calgary)
RW Benn Ferriero (Vancouver)
C Colin Fraser (Los Angeles)
LW John McCarthy (San Jose)
D Nate Prosser (Minnesota)
C Paul Stastny (Colorado)
C Jeremy Welsh (Vancouver)
Free Agents Lost:
C Derek Roy (Nashville)
LW Brenden Morrow (Tampa Bay)
LW Alexandre Bolduc (Arizona)
D Taylor Chorney (Pittsburgh)
RW Adam Cracknell (Los Angeles)
G Ryan Miller (Vancouver)
C Keith Aucoin (Europe)
D Roman Polak to Toronto for D Carl Gunnarsson and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick.
G Jake Allen
RW Ty Rattie
RW Dmitrij Jaskin
C Robby Fabbri
G Jordan Binnington
The St. Louis Blues were last seen defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks in game six during the first round of the 2013-14 post-season. Any team that has to face the Blackhawks first-round in the playoffs is dealt a tough hand, especially with them being the defending Stanley Cup Champions. However, this is the second consecutive year that the Blues have faced a first-round elimination. The Blues always seem to find great success during the regular season. However, they need to find a way to translate that over to the playoffs. The team immediately started dissecting what has to happen to prevent them from repeating the past, yet again.
One positive factor is that the Blues have a fantastic blue line. Last season, they finished third in goals against (with 2.29 per game). They also allowed the third-fewest shots per game in the league (26.4). Among the group’s elite talents are Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester.
St. Louis possesses several weaknesses that can break a team. They lack a dominant offensive player, which is crucial. The only forwards able to score more than one goal in the post season were T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Another flaw was their power play unit. When combining both the playoffs and regular season, they went 4-for-49 in April (8.1%). This is where the signing of free agent, Paul Stastny, comes in. The Blues are hoping he will provide the boost they need. Not only will Stastny help to ease the load on David Backes, but it also creates a logjam down the middle. He brings at least a 20-goal potential to a team that needs it. The next factor to take into consideration is goaltending.
Last season, the Blues took on Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres near the trade deadline, which was an acquisition that did not pay off. Now, they’ve re-signed Brian Elliott, and they’ve acquired the AHL’s best goaltender, Jake Allen. Within 52 regular-season appearances, Allen held a .928 save percentage. As a veteran, Elliott will help to ease Allen’s transition into the NHL. Elliott appeared in 31 games this past season, holding a .922 save percentage with an 18-6-2 record.
Overall, if you take a look at the Blues’ roster, you’ll notice the skill up and down. Even their top veteran players have many more years ahead of them. This makes it hard for the rookies that are hoping to break into the lineup this upcoming season. Many of these young players will be awaiting their time as they mature.
Not only is the Western Conference made up of extraordinary teams, but the Blues’ division is on the rise. Aside from the Chicago Blackhawks, who we know is an all-around tough team to beat, the Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche are starting to find their way. The pressure is on for head coach Ken Hitchcock to guide his team to a successful post-season. It’s safe to say that they will find themselves a spot in the playoffs yet again, but all that counts will be making it past the first round.
Alexander Steen – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz – David Backes – Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi – Jori Lehtera – Patrik Berglund
Peter Mueller – Steve Ott – Maxim Lapierre
Joakim Lindstrom – Ryan Reaves
Alex Pietrangelo – Jay Bouwmeester
Barret Jackman – Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole – Carl Gunnarsson