The St. Louis Blues made the playoffs once again in 2016-17, finishing with 99 points, good enough for third in the Central division, even though they traded D Kevin Shattenkirk mid-season. The Blues surprised everyone (but not me) by getting past the Minnesota Wild in the 1st round of the postseason. They then fell to the eventual Western conference champion Nashville Predators in round two. They pulled off a big trade at the draft, acquiring F Brayden Schenn. Here\’s a look at their full offseason.
Notable additions: C Brayden Schenn, F Beau Bennett, F Chris Thorburn, D Nate Prosser, F Oskar Sundqvist.
Notable subtractions: C Jori Lehtera, F David Perron, F Scottie Upshall, F Ryan Reaves, F Nail Yakupov, F Kenny Agostino, F Ty Rattie.
Here are my projected forward lines.
Alex Steen – Brayden Schenn – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Paul Stastny – Patrik Berglund
Robby Fabbri – Ivan Barbashev – Beau Bennett
Vladimir Sobotka – Kyle Brodziak – Magnus Paajarvi
Schenn should come in as a number one center. Tarasenko, a Lady Byng finalist for 2016-17, is a top winger in the game. Schwartz is pretty underrated, after scoring 55 points in 2016-17. Barbashev is looking for a good sophomore season. Bennett is also looking for a breakout year. Fabbri had a Torn ACL last year, and is looking to rebound. Coming from the KHL, Sobotka is looking for a good first full NHL season since 2013-14. Chris Thorburn, Dmitrij Jaskin and Oskar Sundqvist are the extra forwards.
Here are my projected defensive pairs.
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarson – Colton Parakyo
Joel Edmunson – Robert Bortuzzo
Entering his second season as team captain, Pietrangelo is still a top defenseman. Parakyo is young, and really good. Bortuzzo is in a battle with Nate Prosser for the third pairing spot, but I predict Bortuzzo will win. Prosser will be the seventh defenseman, and Jordan Schmaltz, Petteri Lindbohm and Chris Butler are the extras.
Allen is in his second season as a full-time starter, but I think if he doesn\’t have a good season, his future in St. Louis will be jeopardized. Hutton had a good 1st season in St. Louis, and should have a fine second.
I think that Tarasenko will be the Rocket Richard winner, and as a good team, the Blues will win the Central division, as long as Allen has a good year.