Central Preview: St. Louis Blues
A closer look at the Central Division competition for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
Total: 60 points GF: 129 GA: 115
2011-12 record: 49-22-11
Total: 109 points GF: 210 GA: 165
VS Winnipeg Jets 0-0-2
2013-14 Games vs. Blues:
Friday, October 18th
Blues @ Jets 7:00pm
Tuesday, October 29th
Jets @ Blues 7:00pm
Tuesday, December 10th
Blues @ Jets 7pm
Saturday, February 8th
Jets @ Blues 1pm
Monday, March 17th
Jets @ Blues 7pm
New Hockey Staff: Ken Hitchcock arrived as a coach 13 games into the 2011-12 season. The Blues were 6-7-0 at the time but finished 49-22-11, won the Central Division, finished second in the Western Conference with 109 points, and won a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time since 2002. This will mark Hitchcock's first training camp as head coach.
The Blues signed Derek Roy to a one-year, $4 million extension this summer. They also traded away David Perron to Edmonton in order to acquire 22-year-old Magnus Paajarvi. Maxim Lapierre and Keith Aucoin were free-agents this summer before signing with the Blues.
Top Forwards: David Perron and Andy McDonald are gone and likely to be replaced in the top nine by Derek Roy and either Magnus Paajarvi or Jaden Schwartz. Roy was the marquee add, but there is newfound depth at center for the bottom two lines as well with free agents Maxim Lapierre and Keith Aucoin on board.
Top Defensemen: Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are both capable of recording at least 40 points in 2013-14. The biggest item of business this offseason for the Blues has actually yet to happen - No. 1 defenceman Alex Pietrangelo is a resrticted free agent and needs a new contract.
Goaltenders: The St. Louis Blues could enter the season with three goaltenders, including Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, and Jake Allen. Jake Allen is the No. 3 goalie on the Blues' depth chart for now, but both Halak and Elliott are unrestricted free agents after the 2013-14 season, so Allen could be the No. 1 guy in the near future.
Blues Youth: The Blues have a bumper crop of prospects set to turn pro this season, with more than a few of them ready to fight for and potentially win NHL jobs. These include Dmitri Jaskin (RW), Ty Rattie (RW), and Joel Edmundson (D).
Can this core group take the next step?
The Blues surged to the top of the Central Division in 2011-12, won a round in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2002, then lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the eventual Cup-champion Kings. This Spring, the Blues were fourth seed in the West, drew the Kings in the first round and lost in six games. Almost the same core group from those two springs will return this season, and they'll have to again try to put what happened behind them as quickly as possible.