With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the surprises and disappointments for the St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko‘s lost season
This might qualify as both a disappointment and a surprise.
The disappointment being that the Blues have had their most impactful and dangerous offensive player for only 10 games this season before he was sidelined due to injury.
The surprise is the way in which the Blues were able to overcome it.
Even with Tarasenko in the lineup the Blues were never really a dangerous offensive team (they were 15th in the league in scoring a year ago during their Stanley Cup season). When you remove him from the mix you are taking out one of the most prolific goal scorers in the league and not replacing him with anyone else. It could have been a pretty big obstacle to overcome. Instead, the Blues just kept rolling, did not really miss a beat offensively or in the standings, and are well position to make another run at a championship if/when the 2019-20 season resumes.
They will also almost certainly have Tarasenko back in the lineup, which will be a massive addition.
Moving on from Robby Fabbri
Not really a huge disappointment, but still a disappointment because of the way things just did not work out for them.
When Fabbri first broke into the league he looked like he had a chance to be a productive player that would be a part of the Blues’ core moving forward. But a run of devastating injuries completely sidetracked his development. He ended up signing a one-year deal as a restricted free agent this past summer and seemed to be getting one more shot to get things back on track.
He played in just nine games, scoring one goal, before being traded to Detroit.
It has worked out well so far for Fabbri with the Red Wings, but it is still a disappointment to see such a promising career in St. Louis end up the way it did.
Some surprising offensive contributors
With Tarasenko sidelined for most of the season the Blues needed some of their depth players to step forward and pick up some of that slack. Ryan O'Reilly remains a top two-way player, while Jaden Schwartz had the bounce-back season that should have been expected from him.
Those performances certainly helped. They were not the only ones.
They also received a great performance from winger David Perron who has been tremendous since returning to St. Louis for his third different stop with the team. He has nine game-winning goals and is on track for what could have been a career-year in the goal scoring department. Since returning to the Blues at the start of the 2018-19 season he has scored at a 30-goal pace per 82 games and been one of the Blues’ most reliable offensive performers.
Probably the biggest surprise, though, has been the goal-scoring production from Zach Sanford.
Entering this season the 25-year-old Sanford had scored just 12 goals in 99 career NHL games. In his first 58 games this season, he scored 16 goals. That is a 23-goal pace over 82 games and the type of secondary scoring they absolutely needed.
Evaluating Justin Faulk‘s St. Louis debut
Faulk was the Blues’ big offseason score, adding him from the Carolina Hurricanes and then immediately signing him to a long-term contract extension that begins next season. It will pay him $6.5 million per season through the end of the 2026-27 season.
I would not go as far as to say he has been a disappointment, but there has been a drop in his production from what we saw from him in Carolina. Especially as it relates to his offensive contributions. There is no question that some of that comes from a change in his power play usage, where he went from being one of the top options with the Hurricanes to a secondary option with the Blues. Less power play time (and less ice-time in general) per game can definitely cut into those numbers.
With that contract he is going to be part of the Blues’ defense for a long time, and depending on what happens with Alex Pietrangelo in free agency this offseason could take on an even bigger role in the coming seasons.
• Looking at the 2019-20 St. Louis Blues
• Blues’ long-term outlook