It's hard to say, exactly, but you could certainly argue that coaching might have something to do with it all, but that's just one blogger's opinion about the whole thing. The Blues have a lot of the right pieces in place, talented offense, a strong skating defense, a goalie tandem with upside and a nice blend of youth and veterans. Management has done a pretty good job in St. Louis, now they just need the right direction on the ice.
Nevertheless, for our pool projections, we're not worried about the playoffs, we're worried about the regular season. Over an 82-game season, the Blues are built for success and I think there'll be enough points to go around in your draft.
Table last updated on August 10th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Last year, the breakout player was Vladimir Tarasenko and rightfully so. This year, it's about intrigue and the main topic of why the Blues fell out of the playoff picture so quickly, the goaltending.
Brian Elliott (pictured) and Jake Allen go back to the crease as the 1-2 tandem in the Blues organization and they have head coach Ken Hitchcock still at the helm, despite his uncertain decisions about who should be the number one, both down the stretch and into the playoffs. This intrigue certainly bleeds into the 2016 season, as St. Louis did nothing quell those concerns, nor did they add any extra competition to fire these two up.
St. Louis will be a good regular season team again, but there's no confidence in whether or not one of these two keepers will take the bulk of the minutes or not.
First Round Picks
The Blues are a pretty well-rounded scoring team, which has a 1st round type scorer in Tarasenko, so he'll be a hot commodity in the 1st round. At 80 points, he's a top 20 player, bordering on the top 10, if you're not into getting into your goaltender in the early rounds. His partner-in-crime, Jaden Schwartz, draws pretty close to being good enough for an opening round pick, but he wasn't nearly as consistent as Tarasenko, so his numbers fall short.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Alex Steen, David Backes and Paul Stastny are all definitely capable of the 60-point mark this year, although all three may not hit that mark, it remains a possibility. Last season's sleeper, Jori Lehtera, should be up among the scorers again this season, while a new acquisition in Troy Brouwer, should be able to provide some good grinding depth and a pool-worthy set of numbers.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Between Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues have a deadly 1-2 punch on the blueline and both should be considered for some early rounds, when the rush for the defense goes a tad crazy. This Summer, it had been reported that the injury that broke Jay Bouwmeester's ironman streak last season, didn't quite heal properly enough and he wasn't close to 100%. I would expect a better year from him in 2016 and his role to go back to normal.
Well before training camp, I would have to think that the goaltending situation is pretty much split right down the middle between Elliott and Allen. Tapping Elliott to be the starter for the playoffs before they started and then going with Allen has this prognosticator at odds with either. I think you're probably best to wait until the last possible moment to adjust your numbers on this one, as it's a dead heat in speculation.
Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race
Moving T.J. Oshie to Washington may have opened up a roster spot in the top nine, which could mean that Ty Rattie gets a shot at a roster spot this year. As this roster goes, Rattie is not a lock, but he could jump a couple of regulars in the lineup, if he takes full advantage of his shot in training camp.
Team To Pick From Late?
Are the Blues a late round team to pick from? I would say so. Dimitri Jaskin up front or Carl Gunnarsson on the blueline, either or could potentially bump up the projections, depending on the situation in the year. They are certainly good enough to be fringe players in a deep pool.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Blues let a lot of players go to unrestricted free agency, while taking care of their restricted free agents in decent time this Summer. I don't see this team in any trouble filling their roster, leaving no one they didn't want to sign, unsigned.
Most definitely, the Blues are a cap ceiling team and if they're going to carry a full 23-man roster, they are going to be scraping the edge of the ceiling with their numbers. There hasn't been any news of any other dealings in the rumour mill, just to gain any cap flexibility, so they should be pretty happy with what they have already. And why not?
The early part of August brought news that the standout forward that was mentioned once already, Jori Lehtera, suffered an ankle injury last season and underwent surgery, after it was found that rest wasn't going to help his cause. There is a good chance that Lehtera misses some time in the early few weeks of the season, as his recovery time was going to overlap opening night.