The Blues are the ultimate tweener team but should safely remain in the playoff mix for the next couple of seasons. But can they become anything more than that?
Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
Along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the St. Louis Blues currently have the longest-running Stanley Cup drought in the NHL. And if they’re looking for the impact player through the draft that can help them achieve that goal, they’re not going to find him anytime soon.
The Blues are the ultimate tweener team. There are times when they’re a legitimate Cup contender and others they’re nibbling around the fringes of that group. That’s a recipe for not getting the kinds of picks you need to pick up the slam-dunk star players in the draft. When the Blues drafted Robert Thomas 20th overall this past June, it marked the first time since 2010 that they’ve had a top-20 pick. And the way they’re set up, they don’t figure to be picking in a prime spot for the next couple of seasons.
So they’re going to have to do this thing by committee. And thanks to some shrewd drafting by GM Doug Armstrong and director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong (no relation) there is a lot of evidence to suggest that committee could have some serious clout in a couple of years.
Is it enough to win a Stanley Cup by 2019-20 and halt the Blues’ streak of futility? That might be a stretch, but the Blues are pretty well positioned to maintain themselves as a contender. And that’s pretty much all you can ask for these days in this parity-driven NHL. The recipe for success in the NHL these days is to put yourself in a position to contend and then hope like heck everything falls into place for you.
The Blues used one of their three first-round picks in the 2017 draft to make a trade for Brayden Schenn, who will likely step in to be their No. 1 center until 2019-20, which will be the last year of the deal that pays him an average of $5.1 million a season. At the top end of their forward corps, the Blues have a ton of talent and the offensive chops to score with any team in the league.
They stack up well with other teams along the blueline and with Jake Allen under contract for another four seasons, the Blues don’t figure to be looking for a No. 1 goalie anytime soon.
GOT IT: High-end offensive talent on the top two lines. Vladimir Tarasenko has established himself as one of the best pure goal scorers in the game and a healthy and productive Robby Fabbri is only going to get better over the next couple of seasons. Their goaltending looks solidified for the foreseeable future.
NEED IT: Depth on the blueline. The Blues have only Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo under contract beyond this coming season. They have some decent prospects on the blueline, but none who would be classified as a stud.
CAP WATCH: The Blues have $47.4 million dedicated to nine players in 2019-20. Their core forwards are under contract until or beyond that season and even if they come up with a bridge contract for Fabbri instead of signing him long-term, they hold his fate in their hands for the next couple of seasons.
BOTTOM LINE: The Blues should safely remain in the playoff mix for the next couple of seasons, but they’re certainly not a slam dunk.
Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings | Edmonton Oilers | Florida Panthers | Los Angeles Kings | Minnesota Wild | Montreal Canadiens | Nashville Predators | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | New York Rangers | Ottawa Senators | Philadelphia Flyers | Pittsburgh Penguins
Up next: San Jose Sharks