Mike Yeo has his work cut out for him as several notable forwards are out with injury.
St. Louis will be expected to rely on the Schwartz-Stastny-Tarasenko trio more than usual. It will be something to see how Brayden Schenn fares on the second line. With the injuries, Sobotka and Jaskin had to move up. It will be dicey early in the season especially.
Does the Fabbri injury hurt more than anyone else could imagine? That answer is yes. Steen will return sometime in October but having that speed in the top six was vital. St. Louis could be a bit of a plodding team at times. There are going to be some strange moments among the bottom six.
Will the top line hold up? The team runs through them now and needs 80+ games from the trio. Having players like Ivan Barbashev and Samuel Blais could help. St. Louis has four forwards out currently and may need a boost on the wings. Does Doug Armstrong pull the trigger on a trade or signing?
The Blues blue line is a strength under normal circumstances. However, the prospects may be able to help and Colton Parayko should be able to step up.
The problem is will the depth be there? Could they take a couple steps back? A lot of circumstances have to go well for this corps to hold up. Jay Bouwmeester must come back quickly and fully healthy.
St. Louis’s initial top six looks to be Pietrangelo, Edmundson, Parayko, Gunnarson, Walman, and Bortuzzo. Dunn might compete for ice time and Walman may too. When Bouwmester returns, things should return to a bit more normal
With less rearguard stability, expect the Blues forwards to have a harder time of things.
Jake Allen is the undisputed number one. He stole the first round against Minnesota last season in the playoffs. Allen had 33 wins in 61 games for the Blues, with a 2.42 GAA and .915 save percentage. The key will be Allen’s ability to get off to a better start this October.
Hutton is almost 32 but is serviceable enough to be a backup. The Blues were pretty good on defense last year, but their goaltending must start better out of the gates. St. Louis will allow more scoring chances and shots, especially in the early going.
Looking ahead to trade deadline – if sellers who could be on the move, if buyers what area might they need to improve? St. Louis will be in the market for defensive help and maybe forward depth at the deadline. They will be mostly content with selling their prospects and picks unless injuries should occur.
What rookies could make the team? This is a tough question as Walman and Blais are likely to make the Blues. This is due to injury but they will have the chance to show what they can do. Few expected St. Louis to have these injury problems, this early.
Which player could take a step forward this season? Without a doubt, it is Paryako. The defenseman was great in 2016-17 and will only get better. His ice time will go up simply because the opportunity is now there. Parayko could be the leading point producer from the blue-line for St. Louis.
Which players could regress? Jay Bouwmeester continues to regress and could have a tough year. Injuries could create a lot of undue pressure on the Blues from an offensive standpoint. Alex Steen is another candidate for regression.
What sticks out about St. Louis? The Blues are a little top heavy. However, their depth is a bigger concern. Veterans are aging a little and the prospect pool arguably is lean.
How will the Blues do? It is an excellent question. They are currently projected to be a bubble team in the Central Division. Some think that St. Louis can aim higher but it could be a struggle to make the playoffs.