Record: 27-20-9 63 points – 4th Place in the Honda West Division
Playoffs: Lost to Colorado in the First Round
F – Jaden Schwartz, D – Vince Dunn, F – Mike Hoffman, F – Tyler Bozak, F – Sammy Blais, D – Carl Gunnarsson
F – Pavel Buchnevich, F – Brandon Saad
The St. Louis Blues will enter the 2021-2022 season with great uncertainty as to what will come. On the one hand, they are only two seasons removed from a Stanley Cup victory, and one where they finished with the best record in the Western Conference. On the other hand, they did get handled very easily by Vancouver that year in the playoffs, and followed it up with a disappointing regular season culminating with a sweep by the Colorado Avalanche in last year’s playoffs.
The offseason brought more uncertainty with Vladimir Tarasenko, once the future of the team, requesting a trade. Ultimately a deal never materialized, so, at least at the time of writing, he is projected to be in the Blues’ lineup.
If the Blues do keep Tarasenko, the sport a very formidable top 6, especially with the acquisitions of Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich. While Saad is a familiar name to most Blues fans from his time in Chicago and Colorado, Buchnevich might not be so well known, but he is coming off a season where he put up 48 points in 54 games for the New York Rangers. Saad is an all-around good player that will fit very well with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron.
The key questions then do not center so much around the Blues ability to score or produce a dominant top 6, but fall on the bottom 6 and defense. Robert Thomas, though he is only 21 years old, was predicted by many to take the next step last year to put up more points and play a more consistently smart and solid game with the puck, which did not happen. He played well in some instances, but to be an impact player he will have to make smarter decisions when he has the puck and put up more points. Jordan Kyrou on the other hand, had an excellent first full season with 35 points in 55 games. It remains to be seen whether this will continue after teams have more of a chance to see him, but if he can continue to play like he did last year, the Blues third line will be a dangerous one.
The defense also needs to step up and protect Jordan Binnington more than they did last year. Colton Parayko has regressed in the past few years, and it remains to be seen if he can regain his form after signing a new contract extension. Justin Faulk, after a disappointing first season, did play very well last year and the Blues will need that to continue.
Lastly, there are continuous questions surrounding coach Craig Berube’s ability to guide this team. The Blues will need to make adjustments and realize when players do not fit in certain roles (see constant use of Zach Sanford) and make changes. Berube has not done this well and if he continues like this, it will be hard to see the Blues posing any real challenge to Colorado.
Ultimately, though there are a lot of questions and weaknesses in this Blues lineup, this will still be an exciting season. Saad and Buchnevich bring new elements to the team that have been missing, and if the young guys like Thomas, Kyrou, and Kostin play to their full potential, the Blues could be looking at a lot of high scoring games.
Brandon Saad — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron
Pavel Buchnevich — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko
Klim Kostin — Robert Thomas — Jordan Kyrou
Zach Sanford — Ivan Barbashev — Oskar Sundqvist
Torey Krug — Colton Parayko
Marco Scandella — Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola — Robert Bortuzzo