In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 10th
- Goals for Rank: 15th
- Goals against Rank: 5th
- PP Rank: 10th
- PK Rank: 9th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 9th
- Western Conference Standings: 4th
- Central Division Standings: 2nd
- Coach: Craig Berube (Second season with the Blues; 38-19-6 regular season; 16-10 playoffs; 113-77-34 regular season; 19-14 playoffs)
On offense, Ryan O’Reilly, who I associated more with his face-off abilities and back-checking, had a career year with 28 goals and 77 points passing Vladimir Tarasenko as the top point producer on the team. The top line of Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz are a top 10 best line in the NHL. Following up the top line is a dual threat – shutdown and scoring line of David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Sanford that gives a prominent one-two punch. For the record that second line had a combined +33 last season. Beyond that are some average players who are on the younger side and up and coming – Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Oscar Sundqvist and Robert Thomas.
Defensively, they were strong and personally I think the strength of this team generates from their defense who allowed the 3rd fewest shots against in the NHL. Vince Dunn will hopefully get some more recognition after what the Blues did last year, he’s a solid young positional player who can score quite a bit when needed. Alex Pietrangelo went from almost being released to guiding them to the cup, Colton Parayko had an INSANE 127 hits and 157 blocked shots last year (FANTASY ALERT), Joel Edmundson also had 100+ hits and blocked shots and Jay Bouwmeester, while old is still a good piece to have, he put up 17 point with 127 blocked shots.
In net, Jordan Binnington. Wow. What a year. 1.89 GAA (#1 in NHL), .927 SV% (#4 in NHL). I don’t mean to be Debbie down but I do NOT see that repeating, that was well below his best in the lower leagues (2.08GAA in the AHL the year before). With that said, I think he’s a top 10 goalie, just not a top three goalie. I will happily side step drafts and let people jump to get him. Jake Allen, who played 14 more games than Jordan had an ok year with a 2.83 GAA (27th in NHL) and a .905 SV% (37th in NHL).
Behind the bench, Craig Berube stepped in for the Blues on November 19th. As we all remember, a few days into 2019, the Blues were the worst team in the NHL and they would go on to win the Stanley Cup. He had a good record with Philadelphia when he was let go. He had two seasons with them going 75-58-28 with a 3-4 playoff record.
- Patrick Maroon
Prospects and Picks
Klim Kostin — Taken with the 31st overall pick in the 2017 draft, Klim joined the AHL two years ago playing for the San Antonio Rampage. Over the last two seasons he has put up 52 points in 133 games so not overtly amazing. He’s 20 and still learning and his play on the WJC international stage has been impressive (14 points in 12 games played). I think he has the pedigree and talent to step into a top six role but he needs time to mature in his game.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Colton Parayko — If your league gives points for hits and blocked shots, this is a player who joins a rare club. Players who had 25+ points, a +/- above 20 and 100+ hits and blocked shots is three deep: Ryan Pulock, Jake Muzzin and Colton Parayko. He provides a wide array of statistical help.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$81MM Spent; $.5MM in Cap room; 24 players signed.