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2017-2018 NHL Preview: St. Louis Blues

Years of losing top 6 forwards will take it's toll on them this year

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Twelfth up are the St. Louis Blues who made the playoffs every year from 1979 -€” 2004, took a few years off and have since made it from 2011 -€” present. I think 2017-2018 they miss it again for just the 9th time in the franchises 50 years existence.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 11th
Western Conference Standings: 5th
Central Division Standings: 3rd
Goals for Rank: 12th
Goals against Rank: 12th

Overview: The St. Louis Blues fall into a category of the Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks as teams who have spent the last 20-30 years oft excellent but cup depraived. 3 years ago I was convinced they were going to win the Stanley Cup but after the last 3 seasons moves, I'm not so sure. They built an excellent core before losing Jori Lehtera, Troy Brower, David Backes, TJ Oshie, David Perron and Kevin Shattenkirk over the last 2 and a half seasons. They retained the strong core of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz but those are tough bodies to lose. The Blues have been adept at using a 1-2 punch in net whether it's Brian Elliott and Jake Allen or Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak (now Jake Allen and Carter Hutton) they are able to keep their goalies well rested. It's worked well as up until last year they were in the bottom 6 in goals allowed for 4 straight years. I think Jake and Carter will do their part but to me the difference has become the loss of TJ Oshie, Troy Brower & David Backes (great two way forwards) and Kevin Shattenkirk thus creating quality shot opportunities on their goalies. Their shots against has stayed constant, it's the save percentage which one could put on the goalies but I think it's more of the quality of shots available. The other glaring elephant in the room is quality of competition where, outside of Colorado, the Central has all gotten better and should be a grind it out kind of battle this year. Special teams is their power though as they are in the top 10 in both Power Play and Penalty Kill, it's more 5vs5 that they need to work on

Major Additions: Brayden Schenn
Major Subtractions: Jori Lehtera, David Perron

Prospects and Picks:
-Robert Thomas. A great leader for the Knights last year in the OHL, the 18 year old prospect had 66 points in 66 games last year. He's a good two way center who reads the ice well and could develop into a future captain for the Blues. They clearly see his potential reaching a bit early for him and I wouldn't be surprised if he's up early next year.

-Kim Kostin. I'm very bullish on the Blues draft this year, after a bit of a reach on Robert Thomas, they had Kim Kostin fall into their lap at 31. He is the inverse of Robert, a lot of talent less so on the constant effort and leadership. When Robert is passing the puck constantly, Kim won't be passing it at all. They have essentially created their less talented Toews/Kane; Crosby/Malkin; Backstrom/Ovechkin combo here. If Kim can stay healthy the Blues will have a great duo in 2 years.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Robby Fabbri averaged .51 points per game in 2015-2016 and then  .57 points per game last year (through just 51 games). If he plays a full season at the later pace he could reach 50 points this year. Especially considering his increased ice time as he works in a top 6 roll backfilling some of the aforementioned departed names. If he's willing to fire the puck a lot on the Power Play he could be a source of some solid power play production too, just don't expect him to have a respectable plus/minus.

-Brayden Schenn. I would expect more of the same with Brayden as I think the make up of the Flyers and Blues is similar. It's respectable, he can chaulk up 55-60 points but if he catches fire with their power play unit alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, he could continue his already strong power play production (28 PPP last year).

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $3.1MM with 22 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 20th
Western Conference Standings: 10th
Central Division: 6th

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)