The St. Louis Blues are coming off their best season in some time. Finishing second in the Central Division with a 49-24-9 record and 107 points, they made it to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to San Jose in six games.
The highlight of their season, at least for me personally, was the series against Chicago, especially game 7. After four straight first round exits, including two 2-0 series leads lost, they finally broke through. Like the Sharks, they were determined to redeem themselves and prove they could be a contender. They jumped out to a 3-1 series and had a chance to end the series at home in overtime. That was until Patrick Kane scored the winner on a loose puck. Game six was again won by Chicago, and doubt that the Blues could finish them off started to creep in. St. Louis was determined to win game 7, however, which, I think, ended up being the greatest game of the entire 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Troy Brouwer was the hero in an intense third period that saw the game tied at 2. That determination and some help from both goal posts of their net helped them send Chicago home. Once they beat Dallas, it was understood that this was a team to watch out for.
The offseason was a bumpy summer for the Blues, however. First, they traded away Brian Elliott. Allen is very capable of being the Blues’ starter, but their goaltending depth has suffered. They were, I think, one of the best tandems in the league. They lost their captain, David Backes, to Boston in free agency. Backes has been their best two-way player and, with his 6’3″, 225 lbs frame, can knock some bodies around. They also lost Troy Brouwer to Calgary, another big body that can hit 20 goals and 20 assists.
The Blues signed David Perron, who can replace Brouwer. He’s not as big, but he can reach 40+ points, as well. In 2014 for Edmonton, he scored 28 goals and 29 assists. After a subpar start in 2015-2016 with Pittsburgh, he produced 8 goals and 12 assists in 28 games. It was a smart move for St. Louis.
With Backes gone, Tarasenko will need to step up even more into a leadership role. It is clearly his team now. The Blues will have a solid season and make the playoffs, probably still in a top 3 spot. It will definitely be a tough contest between Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville for those positions.