The St. Louis Blues finished their season last year in disappointment, marred by their loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Semifinals in a 4-2 series conclusion. What makes the Blues loss such a heartache for fans was the performance of goaltender Jordan Binnington prior to his injury in Game 3. Binnington was 4-1 with a .949 save percentage and a 1.72 goals-against average in six appearances including a 51 save effort in the first game of the Colorado series to force overtime. St. Louis had a legitimate opportunity to knock off the eventual 2022 Stanley Cup Champions without the on-ice collision of Nazem Kadri & Jordan Binnington. The what-ifs of playoff hockey will always be haunting.
Unfortunately, St. Louis had to make some tough decisions this off season to maintain a winning roster as well as stay under the salary cap. That included letting fan favorite David Perron walk in free agency and ultimately signing with the Detroit Red Wings this offseason. Perron was a part of the 2019 Stanley Cup victory for the Blues and will be missed by fans. Dakota Joshua also departed in free agency to the Vancouver Canucks and goaltender Ville Husso was traded to the Detroit Red Wings which helped them acquire a 3rd Round Pick (No. 73) yielding C Aleksanteri Kaskimaki from Finland.
The Blues signed goaltender Thomas Greiss to back up Jordan Binnington and added forward Noel Acciari on a one-year deal. Defenceman Nick Leddy was re-signed to a four-year, $16 million contract ($4.000 AAV) and forward Robert Thomas inked an eight-year, $65 million extension ($8.125 AAV) in mid July, making it the most lucrative in St. Louis’ history.
With the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Blues took forward Jimmy Snuggerud out of the University of Minnesota. Snuggerud will continue to develop at the collegiate level but his two way ability should translate well years down the road.
There are a handful of questions going into this season for the Blue Notes which will need to be answered as the season progresses. Can Jordan Binnington recapture & sustain his high level of play between the posts towards the end of last season going into the playoffs before his injury? How will GM Doug Armstrong handle the Vladimir Tarasenko situation? Will Jake Neighbours continue to develop with higher minutes on the ice? Will captain Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou be extended during the season or will they fall prey to more cost cutting at season’s end?
The Blues are likely to be playoff bound again and could supplant the Minnesota Wild for second in the Central Division this year. The Blues haven’t necessarily improved but they haven’t substantially taken any steps back either. The loss of David Perron will hurt and his scoring likely will not be replaced barring a breakout season by an unexpected player. They should enter the season with a chip on their shoulder after their defeat at the hands of the Avalanche and will most certainly be looking for a rematch come playoff time.
Depending on how this season plays out, this might be the last fully competitive year within the Blues current window of time before a rebuild or quick retool might be necessary. If Jordan Binnington comes out and resembles the goalie that showed up in the playoffs, the Blues will be a tough team to beat. If the Blues start to decline or are bitten by the injury bug, look to see if disgruntled forward Vladimir Tarasenko isn’t moved at the trade deadline with an unrestricted free agency for the Russian looming in 2023. Hopefully if the Blues continue to be competitive, Tarasenko will want to remain with the team to give them a solid shot at regaining the championship form they’ve been vying for since 2019.
Source for lines here
Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly, Jordan Kyrou
Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas, Vladimir Tarasenko
Ivan Barbashev, Brayden Schenn, Klim Kostin
Nathan Walker, Logan Brown, Noel Acciari
Marco Scandella, Colton Parayko
Torey Krug, Justin Faulk
Nick Leddy, Robert Bortuzzo
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