NHL season countdown: St. Louis Blues (#5)

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September 26, 2013 by andymisek

The Blues are built for the playoffs; they have depth, skill, and physicality that make them one hell of a team. After bowing out of the playoffs to the L.A Kings for the second round, St. Louis added Magnus Paajarvi, Maxim Lapierre and Derek Roy and re-signed star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Blues are sticking with their core and it should prove to be successful. St. Louis Blues finish 5th in our NHL Season Countdown.

St. Louis Blues logo (Photo: SportsLogos.net)

Offseason

The St. Louis Blues didn’t have a first round pick in the 2013 draft; they moved the pick as one of the pieces in order to acquire Jay Bouwmeester. Their big move was trading David Perron for Magnus Paajarvi. The 2009 9th overall pick has yet to live up to a top 10 draft pick, but a change in scenery could be exactly what’s need to ignite his scoring potential.

 

 

Another large pick-up this off season was center Derek Roy who hasn’t met expectations over the last couple of seasons totaling just 17 goals and 44 points in 2011-2012. He will be playing with budding star Vladimir Tarasenko and either Chris Stewart or Alex Steen. Roy is only 30 years old, so he could regain his scoring touch and easily pot 25 goals on a solid Blues team.

Offense

A young, physical core up front gains another year of experience and is ready to take the next step. Captain David Backes and TJ Oshie will lead the way with their mix of skill and grit. Backes isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas and score the greasy goals. He also is capable of dropping the gloves and pounding on his opponents. Patrik Berglund rounds out a very underrated top line.

 


 

Vladimir Tarasenko is going to be interesting watch at the start of the year. After sustaining a scary concussion last season, Tarasenko will look to pick up where he left off prior to the injury. He was beginning to run away with the Calder Memorial Trophy (best rookie) and it would be extremely beneficial for the Blues if he is able to come back and light it up again.

 

 

The bottom six has much more depth with the addition of Magnus Paajarvi and sophomore Jaden Schwartz. These two young men add another dimension of scoring to an already pesty and gritty bottom six. Vladimir Sobotka, Maxim Lapierre and Ryan Reaves can all play the game well, but also have the ability to get under their opponent’s skin. The Blues also signed free agent Brenden Morrow.

Defense

Alex Pietrangelo is the young star anchoring the blue line and he is very close to gaining attention for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman). Pietrangelo will be paired with veteran Jay Bouwmeester. The addition of Bouwmeester at the 2013 trade deadline helped build strong depth on the Blue’s blue line; he pushes back more skilled defensemen in the lineup.

 

 

On the 2nd pairing, The Blues have another young star and a 2013 trade deadline acquisition. Kevin Shattenkirk is developing into a solid offensive defenseman and is capable of quarterbacking the 2nd power play unit and manning the third line. Shattenkirk will be paired with a more defensive minded Jordan Leopold who will allow Shattenkirk to take more chances offensive chances.

 

 

Roman Polak and Barret Jackman make up the bottom pairing for the Blues. Both are defensive minded, physical defensemen who are capable of logging 10-12 minutes per game. Don’t expect much offense out of these two.

Goaltending

Interesting conundrum with Blues goaltending. Both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot are inconsistent but starting caliber goalies. Prospect goalie, Jake Allen, is nipping at their heels for a roster spot. There was a moment in during 2013 where Elliot was sent down to Peoria to make room for Allen as back-up. With this three way goalie issue, it could be assumed that one might be moved during the 2014 off season.

 

 

Overall

The Blues are a physical, talented team looking to make a deep run into the playoffs. They have a roster capable of making a run at the division title (which, on paper, seems to be a two team race between Chicago and St. Louis). As a Hawks fan, with the new playoff format and Detroit moving to the Eastern Conference, I’d love to intensify an already heated rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago. Now both teams are skilled enough to really have a great super-powered rivalry. St. Louis will be a joy to watch this season.

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