After three straight first-round exits, the St. Louis Blues finally enjoyed an extended playoff run, even if it ended with disappointment against the Sharks.
Going that far saved Ken Hitchcock’s job, at least for one season, while Mike Yeo is positioned to carry the torch going forward.
If the Blues didn’t manage that nice season (107 standings points to finish second in the Central Division, conference finals run), this summer would likely have been one of enormous changes.
Instead, it seems like that transition was broken up in to more digestible chunks. That’s not to say that every change will be easy for Blues fans to swallow.
GM Doug Armstrong balked at the notion of giving David Backes the sort of contract that might be risky for such a physical player. That stands as prudent risk-management, but there could be some growing pains as the Blues must go on without their longtime captain and physical force.
Backes wasn’t the only significant loss, either, as the Blues traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames.
One got the impression that management viewed Jake Allen as the goalie of the future, yet Elliott’s early playoff play likely saved Hitchcock’s bacon. Now it’s all on Allen, who received a healthy contract extension and will now see Carter Hutton placed firmly as his backup.
That may change – possibly before the season starts, for all we know – but for now, the defenseman’s return gives you the impression that the keys have been handed over to the younger elements of the team’s core.
Can they reach or exceed that mark? PHT breaks down the Blues on Friday.