2018-19 Record (45-28-9) 99 points
By now you should all know the story, but if you haven’t let’s run it through one more time. The St. Louis Blues brought in a lot of new pieces after missing the playoffs and there was excitement. Unfortunately for Blues fans, the team started out real slow. In November, after a loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the decision was made to fire head coach Mike Yeo. Former Flyers coach Craig Berube would take over on an interim basis. The team was playing better but found themselves in last place on January 3rd. Insert the first start for rookie Jordan Binnington in net, and the Blues took off. Climbing up the standings and finished 3rd in the Central. They then did “the thing” and Blues fans will be singing Gloria forever.
Season MVP: Ryan O’Reilly
Ryan O’Reilly came to the Blues in a trade on July 1st from Buffalo. He immediately made an impact, and even while the Blues were struggling, was easily their best player. O’Reilly found chemistry with David Perron as the season wore on but Perron was in and out of the lineup with injuries. He then found chemistry with players like Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko as the Blues got hot. The regular season highlight was his overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs to give the Blues a franchise record 11 wins in a row. O’Reilly was a key component of the Blues power play and penalty kill and his defensive play five on five can never be overlooked.
In the postseason O’Reilly showed off his defensive prowess while he struggled to put in goals. In the Stanley Cup Final though, O’Reilly showed up in a big way. He scored five goals in the last four games of the series. He was given the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts as playoff MVP and at the NHL awards was given the Selke Award for best defensive forward. After proclaiming he lost his love the game in Buffalo, O’Reilly came through for his best season yet and is now a Stanley Cup Champion.
Most Improved Player: Oskar Sundqvist
Oskar Sundqvist came into the season with nine career points. He was thought of as a depth AHL player after scoring five points in 42 games with the Blues in the 17-18 season. The Blues gave him another chance and he took that chance and ran with it. Playing all over the Blues lineup he scored 31 points and entered the postseason as the 2nd line center. As the playoffs wore on he found his role as the 4th line center. He has nine points in 25 games as his line with Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Steen seem to set the tone for every game and hit everything in sight. His absence was felt in the Blues game three loss to the Bruins as the Bruins power play did whatever they wanted. His play was a big reason why the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup Champions.
Disappointment: Jake Allen
For the last couple seasons it had been the same story for the Blues net-minder. Jake Allen would start out fairly decent, collapse in the middle of the season and then have a strong finish. Allen wasn’t able to even start this season strong though. The Blues defense did him no favors but Jake really struggled. He eventually lost his job to Jordan Binnington and settled into the back-up role. He was strong in that role though posting a .922 save percentage and was the ultimate teammate for Binnington. It must have been a disappointing for Jake but his name will be etched onto the Stanley Cup so it couldn’t have been all bad.
Highlights of the Year
Top Three Prospects
Jordan Kyrou has been an electric play-maker at every stop he has made. A couple of seasons ago he was named OHL MVP after an 109 point season. After spending some time in the NHL, he spent a lot of the season in the AHL. In San Antonio he scored 43 points in 47 games showcasing his speed. It is time for him to make that next step. If he can showcase his ability at the NHL level that will give the Blues just another element.
Klim Kostin is still learning how to play the game on North American ice but the potential is there. He showcased that potential at these past World Juniors. Having just turned 20 years old, the Blues are going to remain patient with Kostin as he continues to transition his game and eventually make an impact.
Dominik Bokk is another winger on the horizon that should make Blues fans very excited. Blessed with an incredible shot and good speed he has impressed at Blues prospect camps. The 2018 first round pick is only 19 but Blues fans should be very excited about the wave of young forwards almost ready to make an impact in the near future.
Player Primed for a Breakout Season: Robert Thomas
In the 2nd round of the playoffs the St. Louis Blues defeated the Dallas Stars. The best player in that series for the Blues was young Robert Thomas. The center has been compared to Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews for his two way play. After a season of getting his feet wet this should be the year he shows the NHL his true potential. He will start the season on the third line but don’t be surprised if he easily makes it into the top six.
The Blues are bringing everyone back it appears except Patrick Maroon. No significant changes either way Maroon was a good solider and scored one of the biggest goals in the franchises history and was a key player in the Stanley Cup run.
For the Blues there isn’t any obvious options to trade at the moment. Jake Allen could be an option but there isn’t a viable option to replace Allen as backup goalie at the moment. Maybe a team believes Robby Fabbri can once again be the fire cracker he was a few seasons ago. However there is no obvious piece that could be on the move.
The Blues have done what they need to ensure the team is strong moving froward and locked up key depth pieces in hopes of another deep playoff run. The only remaining player left to sign is Ivan Barbashev.
The Blues are set to be a good NHL team for the next several years and may have another Cup run in them. However going back to back is a tall order for any team and there is no way to go up any further then they were.
Do you agree? Where do you think the Blues finish this season?
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