We’re less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Today we continue to dive into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday was the turn of the Pittsburgh Penguins, today we visit the oldest team (still) in the NHL never to win a Stanley Cup; it’s the St. Louis Blues.
2016/17 record: 46/29/7
2017/18 prediction: Out in the second round of the playoffs.
The Blues have had a comparatively quiet offseason. Those who were traded away or given up to free agency look like sensible decisions. The only loser in the Lehtera/Schenn trade will be the Flyers. Schenn is younger and more versatile that than the skater he replaced, and will likely line up alongside Alex Steen or Paul Stastny. Capable of playing center or wing (he played both in Philly), Schenn gives the Blues a lot of options on the offence and powerplay.
Snapping up Beau Bennett not only gives the Blues’ 4th line a bolster, but also reunites the winger with Robert Bortuzzo. The two shared a house during Bennett’s Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins days. Bennett, while handy, is injury prone so is unlikely to see out more than 60-70 games.
In front of goal, Jake Allen is still the goalie of choice, while Carter Hutton is still backup. Allen’s .915 save percentage last season didn’t set the league alight and coach Mike Yeo will be looking for more, should the team want to progress past the second round next season.
Despite losing some key players (Perron, Reaves, Shattenkirk), the Blues still look strong, with players like Vladimir Tsarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Steen up front, and with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parakyo shoring up the defence, Yeo’s team has the ability to go the distance in a difficult division. I still think a few more changes are required to add some scoring depth but the St. Louis Blues will go to the playoffs, and will likely progress to at least the second round.