For the third season under head coach Ken Hitchcock the St.
Louis Blues finished in the top-2 in the Central Division and qualified for the
Paul Stastny – C Ryan
Miller – G
Carl Gunnarson – D Vladimir
Sobotka – C
Nate Prosser – D Derek
Roy – C
Peter Mueller – C Roman
Polak – D
Chris Butler – D Brenden
Morrow – LW
John McCarthy – LW Adam
Cracknell – RW
The Blues were one of the NHL’s deepest team and it helped
them stay consistent throughout the season, en route to their first 50-win
season since 1999-00. St. Louis acquired Ryan Miller before last season’s trade deadline, but the Miller experiment did
not work. He was expected to come in and close the door and lead the Blues to
the Finals. Instead, he posted a 2.70 GAA and .897 SV% in six playoff games as
the Blues were bounced in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks.
St. Louis let Miller walk in free agency (signed with
Vancouver) and enter the season with a goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and
Jake Allen. In a back-up role, Elliott has been spectacular in three seasons
with St. Louis. He has quietly posted a 55-24-7 record with a 1.86 GAA, .927
SV% and 16 shutouts. Entering 2014-15, he will battle for playing time with the
24-year-old Allen. He spent four seasons in the AHL where he went 84-74-10 with
a 2.53 GAA and .917 SV%. Allen had 15 strong appearances last season and is
ready to be a full-time NHLer this season.
Up front, the Blues look basically the same, except for two
fresh faces down the middle. They landed one of the big free-agent fish when
they signed Paul Stastny to a four-year, $28 million dollar deal on July 1st.
He spent the first eight years of his career in Colorado, where he scored at least
20 goals in six of those seasons. In St. Louis he will play second banana to
David Backes, but will have a ton of talent on his wings, regardless of who he
ends up with.
The Blues are loaded and that should lead to another 20-plus
goal, 30-plus assist season for the 28-year-old pivot. The Blues lost Vladimir
Sobotka to the KHL, but then pulled Jori Lehtera over from Russia. He spent the
last four years in the KHL where he was teammates with Vladimir Tarasenko for
one season. The 26-year-old will definitely chip-in on what is shaping up to be
a dangerous third line.
Jaden Schwartz could be the third member of that line. In
his second full NHL season, Schwartz, 22, recorded 25 goals and 31 assists (56
points) in 80 games. The breakout campaign spells good news for Schwartz and
You can’t forget about Blues’ veterans like Alexander Steen
and T.J Oshie. After a stunning breakout season in 2013-14, expect Steen to
return to his normal self. Prior to last year he had just 23 goals in the
previous two seasons combined. A 20-20 year is much more likely than a repeat
30-goal year. After battling injury in 2012-13, Oshie stayed healthy and had
his best season to date in 2013-14. He cracked the 20-goal mark (21) for the
first time as well as a career best 39 assists.
That sounds like a forward group that is going to do a lot
of damage this season, but the problem for the rest of the NHL is that their
blueline is just as stout. Alex Pietrangelo has already established himself as
one of the league’s elite defensemen. He has only missed five games in his
four-year career and already has two 50-plus point seasons under his belt.
Kevin Shattenkirk bounced back from a so-so lockout year
with career-highs in goals (10), assists (35), points (45), game-winners (5)
and power-play points (26). Lastly they have Jay Bouwmeester, who clearly likes
playing in St. Louis a lot more than in Calgary. In his first full-year with
the Blues, the 30-year-old had 37 points (4G / 33A), just nine points off of
his career-high he set eight years prior.
Season prediction: The Blues will finish second in the
Central Division, not far behind the Blackhawks.
View the Blues’ entire roster and cap space heading into the