With the NHL season just weeks away, PHR is looking at each team, in-depth. Today: the St. Louis Blues.
Last Season: 49-24-9 (107 points), 2nd place in the Central Division. Lost 4-2 to San Jose Sharks in Western Conference Finals.
Cap Space Remaining: $3.96MM via CapFriendly.
Player to Watch: Kevin Shattenkirk. Rumors swirled that Shattenkirk was on his way out and then in mid-July, general manager Doug Armstrong told Craig Custance that he expects Shattenkirk to spend the season in St. Louis. When Custance pushed him on what he meant, Armstrong clarified that Shattenkirk would stay in St. Louis. However, with the Blues weaker than last season, it will be interesting to see what happens should Shattenkirk’s stock rise more by the trade deadline. If negotiations don’t go well for a new contract, it’s not crazy to think Shattenkirk will be shipped somewhere else for a king’s ransom.
Key Storyline: The Blues finally pushed through the Blackhawks in the playoffs and survived through the Conference Finals, where they were dispatched by the Sharks in six games. Then started the purge. Elliott was dealt to Calgary, Brouwer packed up and followed his former teammate there, and Backes went east to Boston. Though they still have talent on the roster, this is a weaker St. Louis team than last season. Nashville certainly improved with the addition of P.K. Subban and the Western Conference improved almost everywhere. Playing the always competitive Central Division will be more perilous than usual. Ken Hitchcock will be handing the reins over to Mike Yeo, and after an up and down tenure in Minnesota, what will Yeo do differently with the Blues? While the team is still strong with the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo to name a few, they may be a step back from what St. Louis has been accustomed to.