St. Louis Blues 2015 State of the Team


Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  The St. Louis Blues were among the best teams in the regular season and legitimate cup contenders.  Then the playoffs came around and they flamed out without even making the conference finals.  Right, OK, so what do the Blues have to do to make sure this doesn’t happen a fifth year in a row?


Well, for starters, um, anything?  Here is a list of free agents the Blues signed this offseason: Kyle Brodziak and Andre Benoit.  End of list.  Both players probably won’t present much of an upgrade considering who they replace (defensive specialist Marcel Goc and pylon Barret Jackman, respectively).

I suppose I would be remiss to forget to mention the T.J. Oshie for Troy Brouwer swap, but even if Oshie isn’t the first line dynamo some think he is, he is still better than Brouwer.  Per

Oshie has better corsi numbers despite getting tougher usage, put up 9 more points last year, is a year younger, and only makes $750,000 more.  This isn’t a move for the now, and it isn’t really a move for the future as both their contracts expire next year.  I can give credit to GM Doug Armstrong for locking up Vladimir Tarasenko long-term, but that was basically a layup.

Grade: C-


Starting with the forward group, David Backes and Alex Steen form one of the best shutdown duos in the league (53.8% CF playing together since 2012), which is impressive given their tough usage (and given the fact Backes is on a constant quest to pick fights in the name of GRIT and TOUGHNESS).  With Oshie gone, it may fall to Paul Stastny to replace him and improve on his meh 46 points, his lowest in a non-lockout year since 2008-2009 when he only played 45 games.

Vladimir Tarasenko and his shiny new contract will continue to amaze everyone with feats of Russian skill and Jaden Schwartz, who should probably get a real first name, serves as a very impressive running mate.

Tarasenko has proven himself to be one of the most electrifying forwards in the league and will only be 23 on opening night.  Last year he dominated the competition to the tune of 73 points (10th in the league) and a 54.9 CF%.  Jori Lehtera won’t wow you but 44 points is impressive enough and he is pretty good in his own zone.

Patrik Berglund can sometimes look like the best player on the ice but he also has stretches where you don’t even notice him.  Dmitrij Jaskin looked very comfortable last year with an increase in minutes (11th in the entire league last year in CA60 for forwards) and will serve as a valuable depth piece.  Ty Rattie only has 2 points in his first 13 NHL games but this is a kid who has seasons of 121 and 110 points in the WHL under his belt so one would imagine he should be able to contribute to the big club sooner rather than later.

When looking at some of their other depth pieces, the Blues start to drop off a bit in terms of quality.  Ryan Reaves is nothing more than a goon and has no place on an NHL team with Stanley Cup aspirations.  Steve Ott hasn’t had a season CF% above 50% since 2011-2012.  He’ll be 33 on opening night and will probably only be worse while Magnus Paajarvi has never been able to best his rookie season of 34 points in 2010-2011.  Playing these guys 8 minutes a night does more harm than good and really stands out when playing deep teams like the Kings or Hawks who can roll four lines of guys including Marcus Kruger and Trevor Lewis.

On the back end, perennial sleeper pick for the Norris trophy Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester continue to be a very capable shutdown pair though Pietrangelo had somewhat of a down year last year, only posting a 50.2 CF% after having seasons of 54.7% and 52.2%.

Kevin Shattenkirk has been absolutely destroying the weak competition he faces, putting up 44 points last year despite only playing 56 games.  Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm, and Andre Benoit won’t kill you as depth guys but they won’t really be a strength either.  One interesting candidate is Robert Bortuzzo who, while playing cupcake competition and in a very small sample size, posted an absurd 57.5 CF%.

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Jake Allen and Brian Elliot will once again trade the starter’s role until one of them can actually play well for more than a month in a row.  In his limited NHL time, Jake Allen only has a .911 sv%, a below average number for a starting goalie.  Brian Elliot always seems to be serviceable for the Blues but after seeing him do this in a playoff game, no one seems to be particularly confident in his ability to get it done when it matters.

In the past three seasons, we have seen the Blues trade for Ryan Miller, sign Marty Brodeur’s corpse, and hand the reins to Allen.  If Allen can’t prove himself during the regular season, the Blues may need outside help or accept the fact that Elliot has to be the guy.

Grade: A-


As far as prospects go, the Blues are probably middle of the pack when it comes to strength of their farm system.  The most notable players are guys like Ivan Barbashev (who put up 95 points in 57 games last year in the Q) and Robby Fabbri, the Blues 2014 1st rounder who already has an 87-point season to his name when he was only 17 in the OHL.

Defensemen Tommy Vannelli looks comfortable with the puck, as does Jordan Schmaltz, who probably has the best chance of making an impact on the NHL team this year.  Forwards Mackenzie MacEachern and Justin Selman and defenseman Vince Dunn are other prospects who should impact the big club in some way over the coming years.  Jordan Binnington was only 22nd in sv% last year while playing for the Chicago Wolves but has the pedigree and talent of a guy who can contribute to an NHL team in some fashion.

A more pressing matter is what to do with David Backes’ next contract, as Backes will surely be looking for a raise from his current $4.5 million a year salary.  However, with little cap space and RFA Jaden Schwartz most likely looking for a big payday.  The Blues may need to keep emotions out of it and move on from their captain who will be 32 at the start of next season.

Grade: B

It’s hard to imagine the St. Louis Blues having any trouble returning to the playoffs next season, even if the central promises to be a bloodbath.  However, without adding anything of significance in the offseason, the Blues are rolling the dice on a team that has failed to make it past the second round in each of the last four years.  Still one of the best teams in the league, it is going to take a little luck (or deadline addition!) to reach their ultimate goal.

All Stats courtesy of,, and

Next: Blues Goaltending: Jake Allen

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