Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The St. Louis Blues.
Last season, the Blues again played a tough, physical brand of hockey and found their way to the postseason with hopes of a Stanley Cup. Once again, however, they found their hopes dashed in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
After another disappointing exit, Ken Hitchcock’s team looks to once again clamp down on the Western Conference.
After rumors of late-season discord proved to be untrue, they head into the new season with some minor changes being made and more goaltending than they may know what to do with. Can Hitchcock’s gang learn from their recent postseason disappointments and take the next step? That, friends, is the million dollar question.
The Blues were odd this summer in that they seemed to not do much but were very busy. They were taken by surprise by Andy McDonald’s sudden decision to retire thanks to concussions and replaced him with free agent playmaking center Derek Roy. He and captain David Backes could become a scoring duo right away.
Acquiring centers was the thing for them to do as they also added Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Bolduc for depth and Maxim Lapierre for extra special added annoyance, even though he’d rather be in Montreal.
Their most notable move was dealing David Perron to Edmonton for young winger Magnus Paajarvi (link). Perron had reached the end of his rope with Hitchcock and the Oilers ran out of patience with Paajarvi. Hey, a mutually beneficial change of scenery deal!
St. Louis wasn’t too active in signing other team’s players because GM Doug Armstrong had a host of their own to take care of. Restricted free agents Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Patrik Berglund all inked new deals.
Meanwhile, prized defenseman Alex Pietrangelo still remains unsigned. At least the Blues have plenty of cap space to fend off any potential offer sheets.
Provided Pietrangelo gets back in the mix (and he will) the Blues will be strong once again and will have to deal with Chicago and Minnesota in the new Central Division for the playoffs. Getting to the postseason is nice and all, but they have a bigger goal in mind.