St. Louis Blues 2017-2018 Season Preview
Will a Shaken-up Top Two Lines Affect the Blue’s Playoff Hopes?
The St. Louis Blues finished third in the Central Division last year and will look to have another postseason appearance during the 2017-2018 season. Their blue line and netminding both look very similar to 2016-2017, but their top two forward lines are expected to have significant changes. The St. Louis Blues 2017-2018 Season Preview will examine whether these shakeups will affect the team’s chance at a seventh playoff berth.
St. Louis is led by Russian superstar Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko has finished within the top five goal scorers of the league in each of his last three seasons. Last year he ended the regular season with 39, tied for fourth in the NHL. On the wing opposite to Tarasenko is Jaden Schwartz, who finished second on the team in scoring in 2016-2017. He finished tied for first on the team in assists with 36 while managing 19 goals and showed that he is defensively responsible, leading the team in plus/minus in. Both Robby Fabbri and Alex Steen will also be looked up to contribute on the offensive side of the puck. They finished last season with 29 and 51 points respectively.
The St. Louis Blues were one of the teams that arguably got hit hardest in the expansion draft. Vegas snagged winger David Perron, the Blue’s fifth leading scorer during the 2016-2017 season. This loss led to the team trading top line center Jori Lehtera to Philadelphia for Brayden Schenn. Schenn finished third on the Flyers in scoring last season, and should be capable of replacing the offense provided by Perron. While Lehtera had been somewhat a disappointment in terms of providing offensive output, this means St. Louis will need to move Paul Stastny up to the first line to play along Tarasenko and Schwartz. While Stastny is certainly capable of filling this role, the depth at center will suffer down on the third and fourth lines.
The Blues defense is still fine on paper despite trading away Kevin Shattenkirk last season. While this trade did not immediately return any NHL ready players, the blue line looks to be in solid shape for the 2017-2018 season. The top pair on St. Louis will include Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Pietrangelo is among the leagues best, and contributes well on both sides of the puck. Pietrangelo was eighth in the league on time on ice per game (25:17 min/game) and fourth on the team in scoring with 48 points. Bouwmeester will also eat a lot of minutes for the Blues. Last season he averaged 22:24 in TOI, second on the team behind his D-partner.
St.Louis’ second pairing of Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko looks to be primed for a solid season. Both born in 1993, the two young defensemen will be entering their third seasons in the NHL. Parayko’s resume is slightly stronger than Edmundson’s. The 6’6’’ defenseman had a great rookie campaign during the 2015-2016 season posting 33 pints in 79 games. Last year he had similar numbers (35 points in 81 games), while averaging 21:11 in TOI. Edmundson only had 15 points last year, but the second round pick from 2011 looks to be coming into his own in the NHL. He played strongly for the Blues, and his development seems to be trending in the right direction.
The Blue’s crease will look identical to last season. Jake Allen will start with Carter Hutton serving as his backup. Jake Allen had a good regular season last year. The New Brunswick native compiled a .915 save percentage and 2.42 GAA. While these numbers were fairly average among league netminders, Allen really shined in the playoffs. The Blues were eliminated in the second round, but Allen played outstanding with a .925 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA in his 11 games. He is still young and appears to be on improving year to year. Allen should be expected to play well in his fifth NHL season.
Behind Allen on the depth chart, Carter Hutton has shown his competency as a backup in the NHL. Hutton posted similar numbers to the team’s starter last year, managing a .913 save percentage and a 2.39 GAA in 30 games played. His workload will likely be similar to last season. Hutton should give his team a chance to win while in the cage, but won’t be expected to steal games for the Blues.
St. Louis Blues 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
The St. Louis Blues’ Defense and Goaltending will look similar in the 2017-2018 season compared to last year’s squad. The biggest offseason changes were made on the team’s top two lines. Brayden Schenn is expected to fill the void left by the departures of David Perron and Jori Lehtera. With these changes the team will look to find new ways to provide supplemental offense to that of Vladimir Tarasenko. It will be interesting to see how the chemistry of the top two lines will develop over the course of the 2017-2018 seasons. While the Blues look like a playoff team on paper, the strength of the Central Division may make it difficult for them to clinch a playoff spot this year.
- St. Louis’ group of defensemen and goaltenders looks similar to pervious season’s and should be capable of holding down the fort
- The team’s offense will be led by Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Shake ups in the offseason will result in the top two lines trying to form new chemistry
- St. Louis is in a very tough division and while the still look like a playoff caliber team, they will compete with at least four other teams for a ticket to the postseason.