Although we have already discussed which Central Division team will be hurt the most by a missed preseason (article link here), we have not discussed how a cancelled regular season could adversely affect a team like the Blues. Being top-three team in the NHL last season, it is reasonable to think that St. Louis would be in a similar, if not better, position this season. They have a young, talented core of offensive players, a solid defense with an elite top pairing, two very solid goaltenders, and great veteran leadership.
Surely to be in Stanley Cup contention, a missed season is a missed opportunity for the blue notes. They have multiple top forwards – T.J. Oshie, David Perron – entering their primes, and veterans like David Backes and Andy McDonald at the top of their careers. The Blues are also trying to develop their young talent (Vladimir Tarasenko, Ty Rattie, etc.), and are losing both an opportunity to evaluate their crop of players and to help the team gel with the young forwards. Tarasenko is heading back to the KHL, and after the whole debacle of getting him to St. Louis in the first place, who knows when he will even return.
The defense may take an even bigger hit than the offense, since apart from Alex
Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Blues have a bevy of unproven youngsters and average veteran blue liners. Barret Jackman is a solid player who can help anchor the second pair, but behind him there is Ken Huskins, Ian Cole, Kris Russell, Roman Polak, and recently signed Jeff Woywitka for the final three spots. This is not a highly talented nor overly physical lineup, and a lost season definitely hurts the development of Cole and Russell.
Not to mention that both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott are 27, certainly not young by goaltending standards, are coming off a season in which they allowed the fewest goals in the NHL, and have built a ton of camaraderie and momentum. Even though Halak is under contract for three more seasons, Elliott is only on the books for two more, and I don’t think that either goalie would be as effective in a full-time role. This tandem has been one of the best duos in the NHL, and a lost season could definitely affect their chemistry and shaves another year off of their contracts.
The Blues, along with the Rangers, Penguins, Kings, and Canucks are going to lose a year of prime from the core of their lineups, and will miss out on an opportunity to win their first Stanley Cup. Hopefully, the labor dispute will be resolved, and the Blues can make the most of their immense talent and great chemistry in 2012.