That is the most recent file in THN.com’s ongoing evaluation of each NHL workforce’s low season strikes. At present, we’re trying on the St. Louis Blues.
2021-22 report: 49-22-11
End In The Central Division: third
Out there wage cap area (per CapFriendly.com): $625,000
Unrestricted free brokers: Tyler Bozak, F; James Neal, F.
What St. Louis has: A powerful core of skilled and expert expertise; a totally signed record; an completed and revered administration workforce in GM Doug Armstrong and head coach Craig Berube; an elite beginning goalkeeper in Jordan Binnington; a deep protection corps whose high 4 gamers are signed for the following 4 seasons; a bunch of the six greatest forwards, eight of whom scored at the very least 20 objectives final season
What St. Louis wants: wage cap flexibility; a commerce that satisfies disgruntled star winger and high scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, and addresses the wants that can come after his departure; a stable season supported by goalkeepers from new acquisition Thomas Greiss; good well being and manufacturing of his fourth line of forwards
What’s life like for St. Louis subsequent season: The Blues had a good diploma of tumult in 2021-22, first coping with a commerce request from cornerstone winger Vladimir Tarasenko, then overcoming regular-season struggles from beginning goalkeeper Jordan Binnington. However they overcame adversity, discovered a approach to preserve Tarasenko in St. Louis and had sufficient persistence with Binnington to see him bounce again later within the 12 months and into the postseason. In consequence, they eradicated the Minnesota Wild within the first spherical of the playoffs and gave the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche a scare earlier than falling to them in six video games.
Now, not reaching the Western Convention finals for the third straight season after successful the primary Cup in franchise historical past in 2018-19 is not the Blues’ concept of success, however let’s face it: Profitable only one Cup is sort of troublesome, come on. simply by successful a number of Cups with the identical group of gamers. All the celebrities must line up for one workforce to win all of it, and St. Louis has to maintain pushing with its core of expertise whereas everybody can proceed to contribute.
His tightness in opposition to the wage cap meant saying goodbye to departed unrestricted free brokers David Perron and goalie Ville Husso, however the Blues nonetheless have a set of high-impact forwards, a set of good and cell defenses, and a bunch of proprietor prepared to spend towards the utmost restrict every year. That mentioned, Tarasenko is believed to nonetheless wish to get out of city, and with only one 12 months left on his present deal, he may supply an essential mixture of prospects, salary-cap area and NHL-ready expertise in any commerce. Such a transfer can be painful, however Tarasenko was a stable citizen for them final season, and it is in all probability not well worth the danger of protecting him in St. Louis if it means having an brazenly sad participant within the locker room.
Regardless, the Blues can be a playoff workforce once more in 2022-23, and one other matchup with the Avs looms. This can be the final hurray for this explicit group, as captain Ryan O’Reilly and forwards Noel Acciari can be unrestricted free brokers subsequent summer time, and winger Jordan Kyrou can be a restricted free agent. The Blues could have salary-cap area, however with Tarasenko out a technique or one other, is it time for them to revamp on the fly? That is a query common supervisor Doug Armstrong should grapple with very quickly. However for now, at the very least, they continue to be probably the most harmful groups within the league, and will simply overtake Minnesota for second place within the Central Division, giving them residence subject benefit within the first spherical.