Thankfully for St. Louis, what won't be the same is the goaltending situation, as Brian Elliott was shipped off to Calgary and this leaves the reins in Jake Allen's hands and this could be the best thing that could happen to this club. Now that the 26-year old has the number one job, his focus will now be on winning and I have a feeling that is what he is going to do.
With David Backes leaving the organization via free agency, the Blues are going to be in need of some new leadership, something that may or may not be hard to come by on this team. It's really hard to say. It will be interesting to see who takes the role of captain and what effect it will have on this club. Will it be someone who leads by example or is there someone vocal enough in the room that can take charge?
Nevertheless, I think St. Louis is in for making a big charge in the 2017 season, because I believe they have taken some steps in the right direction here. Let's not forget, this is Ken Hitchcock's last season, I'm sure the players would love to win one for the skipper this year.
Table last updated on August 4th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Coming out of nowhere in the 2016 season was defenseman Colton Parayko and that earns him the most intriguing player for the upcoming season for the Blues, mostly because of his scoring numbers and his position on the blueline. The 23-year old finished last season with 33 points and was 42nd among defensemen in scoring, which will make him attractive in the draft, no doubt. Will he be able to repeat the performance as a sophomore in the league? I say that he'll be close.
My initial projection for him is in the 30-point range, give or take, but already being a more mature sophomore in the league, it will give him some much better odds of having a repeat or improved performance.
First Round Picks
By my count, the Blues have two players worthy of opening round consideration and I think Jake Allen can go as high as 1st overall, if one felt so compelled to do so. Allen, taking the reins as the number one, and Vladimir Tarasenko, being a premier scorer, gives the Blues two perfectly sound options in the early part of the hockey pool draft.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
If the 30-point range is where pool worthiness ends, I think the Blues are going to be a very popular team in this year's draft. I have the feeling that they could have upwards of nine more forwards taken in the draft, if all goes well. Jaden Schwartz is set to have a big year, while Alex Steen and Paul Statsny should continue to do what they do. Robby Fabbri (sophomore) and Patrik Berglund (plain ol' wild card) will have the potential for better things, but I just can't bet heavily on them.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
With Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues have a very special dynamic duo, if they manage to stay together this season. Both have real offensive upside and they'll be snapped early in the push for big defenseman names in the first three rounds of the draft. I still think Jay Bouwmeester has something to give and if Shattenkirk does go via trade, as some of the rumours may suggest, then the veteran blueliner has a lot to gain with more ice-time.
With all the moves in the off-season for St. Louis, we now know it will be Carter Hutton who will be behind the new number one, Jake Allen. Allen hasn't exactly proved to be 65+ start goalie yet for the Blues, so that will work in Hutton's favour, making him into a potential back-up goalie, if needed in the hockey pool.
Team To Pick From?
The Blues are not going to be short on talent this year and that could mean for some really good picks late on in the draft, as the scoring trickles down to the guys that won't be defended nearly as hard. Guys like David Perron or Jori Lehtera could find their way down the ranks a bit, but certainly wouldn't disappoint near the end of the draft.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
There have been some rumblings that Vladimir Sobotka could return to the team, but that's a matter of commitment, as an arbitration ruling would still be in effect, if he decided to come back to the team. Today, he's the only player of any real value on the unsigned list.
The Blues' 23-man projected roster is still fairly cost-efficient, leaving more than enough space for Sobotka, if he said yes to a return. I have the Blues in slightly under $3.2 million from the cap ceiling and the Czech forward would be signing for $2.725 million.
Shoulder surgery for forward Alex Steen has pretty well ruled him out of the World Cup, but the timetable for him is still in and around the start of the regular season, likely getting in a good portion of training camp. I would imagine he'll be 100% when he finally hits the ice.