2018 St. Louis Blues Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
The Blues have surely been a tough team to cheer for in recent years. On paper they are a solid team each year, but they have not been able to fully put it all together and accomplish, well, anything really. But they always win enough to assure they don't get a decent draft position, either. They are a squad that has been locked into the middle of the league, and they have really struggled to break out.
Even last year when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011, they still had 94 points to miss the playoffs by just a single point. To their credit, though, they have been notably aggressive this offseason in an attempt to change things around and break out of the long-term rut they have been in. This is a better team now than it was at this time last year. But is it enough?
St. Louis Blues Offseason Moves
The big move was an aggressive trade with Buffalo to acquire top center
Ryan O'Reilly. The team needed scoring outside of the top line, and with
O'Reilly and some other moves they now have a top six that is truly
impressive. He'll most likely play on the top line along with Vladimir
Tarasenko, who has topped the team in goal scoring four years in a row. If
there is chemistry, they will be a powerful duo. Along with O'Reilly, they
brought back David Perron, who has previously been with the team, as a free
agent after a strong year in Vegas. He'll likely be a second line winger.
And, to further expand their scoring depth, they brought in Tyler Bozak
from Toronto to likely center their third line. The offense is going to be
stronger than it was last year when their 226 goals scored were worst in
the Central Division. Patrick Maroon was added as another depth forward,
Robby Fabbri is back after his second ACL surgery, and prospects Jordan
Kyrou and Robert Thomas could be in the mix, so the team has plenty of
While the news was great up front, there is a concern in net as backup Carter Hutton went to Buffalo where he will get a chance to start. Hutton was no regular backup - in his 32 games he led the league in both goals against average and save percentage. Veteran Chad Johnson was signed on a one-year deal as the new backup, but the veteran is a pretty serious step back.
The draft won't have an immediate impact. They didn't have their first-round pick in the draft, and they traded the pick they had from Winnipeg with Toronto to move up to 25th to land German winger Dominik Bokk, who is a couple of years away at best.
St. Louis Blues NHL Outlook
Chemistry is going to be a question up front with the number of changes that have been made, but it seems likely that there is a winning combination to be found. While that is not a particular concern, goaltending has to be. Jake Allen was not particularly impressive last year, and he really went into a funk once the calendar turned to 2018. He wasn't putting up NHL numbers, never mind starter numbers. He has yet to fully convince us that he can be the top-notch starter that he has certainly shown us flashes of. Now he doesn't have nearly the safety net that he did with Hutton, and he is likely going to have to play more than the 59 games he played last year. Coming off a season in which he posted his worst career numbers is not an ideal time to be facing an increased role, and he holds the fate of this team largely on his shoulders. It's not ideal by any means.
Besides goaltending, the biggest issue for the team last year was the power play. It was 30th in the 31-team league, and that's just not good enough for a team that wishes to contend. O'Reilly will carry big responsibility on that front, as he was a machine on the power play for Buffalo and has the perfect mix of offensive touch and puck responsibility to anchor a power play unit.
If the Blues can get good goaltending from Allen and the power play can return then this team is heading back to the playoffs, and with their top three lines humming they wouldn't be that much fun to play against. But the West is deeper and tougher than it was last year, so the margin for error is small.
St. Louis Blues Schedule
The Blues have a seven-game home stretch starting October 25, with five of those games against Western foes. The team surely has those two weeks circled on their calendars because it is a massive opportunity to make an early statement - or to dig a big hole.
St. Louis Blues NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has St. Louis at +2000 to win the Stanley Cup, which has them as the fairly optimistic 10th choice. The season win total sits at 96.5, which is up from where it opened, and the "over" is still taking the bulk of the action. Tarasenko is at +2500 to win the Hart Trophy as MVP, which puts him well behind the top contenders. If he and O'Reilly can mesh early then there could be a little value in that number.
2017-18 St. Louis Blues Predictions
I like the moves that the team made and really like how O'Reilly, in particular, addresses some of their bigger issues. Allen does not make me comfortable, and the logjam of potential playoff teams in the West is crazy right now. But St. Louis is an improved team, and they should wind up going over their total fairly comfortably. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen, but it feels more likely than not that this is a playoff team.
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