In honor of the St. Louis Blues, the lunchtime menu at Mrs. Baird’s Bakery will offer a nice warm pretzel bread with a beer cheese sauce made from real beer - not that Budweiser business.
Let’s enjoy this sustenance as we recap the offseason of the Blues and what their season could look like this year.
Last season stats:
Points earned: 99
Central division finish: 3rd (out of 7)
Final league finish: 10th (out of 30)
Best stat: 21.3% - power play conversion, good for 2nd best in the West, behind only the Edmonton Oilers
Worst stat: 14, the number of times they won when outshot by opponents, 4th lowest in the league (ahead of only the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings)
Key offseason player changes:
- F David Perron (expansion draft)
- C Jori Lehtera (trade)
- F Ryan Reaves (trade)
- F Nail Yakupov
+ F Chris Thorburn
+ F Beau Bennett
2017-2018 Freshness Rating:
(1 loaf of bread = lottery pick, 5 loaves of bread = deadly contender)
The biggest change to the Blues’ roster may be the changes they made behind the bench. After Ken Hitchcock was let go mid-season and Mike Yeo took over, the assistant coaches were left intact to finish out the season. In the summer, Yeo turned the coaching staff over to bring in his guys, a move often associated with the change in head coaches and not completely unsurprising.
It’s yet to be determined what, if any, of the structured system the Blues played under Hitchcock with success in previous seasons will remain this year. After all, Yeo will have his own systems he’s likely to want to implement.
They’re going to need a system to rely on after all the injuries they’ve taken this preseason.
Robbi Fabbri, the young talented forward that missed a lot of last season after tearing his ACL, was expected to be a key part of the Blues’ top six forward unit. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t change in 2017 when he re-injured the same knee in the preseason and will now miss the entirety of this season.
The list after him gets much longer.
Forward Zach Sanford is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, so who knows how much of the season he’ll end up missing. Jay Bouwmeester will miss some time with a fractured ankle, and Alex Steen is week-to-week with a wrist injury. Patrik Berglund isn’t expected back until at least December as he recovers from offseason surgery to his shoulder.
It’s brought into question whether the Blues have the depth to sustain these injuries long enough to get some of those players back. The question I have is whether they’ll be able to keep afloat in a very competitive division or if they’ll end up in a hole too deep to dig out of before they can recover from injuries to their lineup.
Central Division Prediction:
5th place - They’ll be close to Winnipeg in the standings, bolstered by some solid prospects at forward. I reserve the right to revisit this prediction if they make a trade with the Colorado Avalanche to get a top six forward in Matt Duchene to shore up their forward corps after losing Fabbri for the season.