The St. Louis Blues were a team that had major ups and downs throughout their season. Scoring was obviously an issue as was sloppy defensive play in their own end. Recently St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong cried out for help in a sarcastic fashion asking all of the GM’s in the NHL to gladly offer up their top scorers if they felt it was St. Louis’ time. The point that Armstrong was ultimately trying to make is that teams do not give up elite talent and that you have to obtain that talent through the draft.
For some St. Louis fans that meant the possibility of Armstrong attempting to trade for a top 5 pick in the upcoming NHL draft. With Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon both looking as if they could be elite goal scorers in the NHL, the Blues could benefit greatly from their services, but the price won’t be cheap. Sure, the Blues have a ton of free agents this offseason, but if they want a top pick in the draft they are going to have to move more than roster players to get it. If Armstrong wants to send out some of the players he has drafted, he could probably make a top pick work, but after seeing his moves at the deadline you have to think he wants to retain all of their services.
What fans need to remember is that the Blues have more than enough talent and skill on this team. The problem hasn’t been the quality of athletes for the Blues, but the quality of their performance. Sure, the Blues have room to make some moves and probably will, but the future of the Blues is brighter than ever.
There was a time when the Blues hoped to have a 30 goal scorer in David Perron or maybe even Patrik Berglund, but those guys haven’t put the effort forth in the NHL. They came to a team that was struggling and were praised for any success. A change of scenery might be of help to one of these guys and with Berglund being a restricted free agent this offseason he may be on his way out. A lot has changed since we waited to see guys like T.J. Oshie suit up for the Blues and the future is a lot brighter.
Vladimir Tarasenko came out of the gate hot this season but then slowed significantly after his concussion. Coach Ken Hitchcock had a valid point when he told the media that Tarasenko plays best when he is well rested. After playing an almost complete season in the KHL, Tarasenko came over to the states and played a game almost every other night. That type of schedule is hard on a young player trying to adapt to a different style of game. With a season under his belt in the NHL, there is no telling how well Tarasenko will do next season, but he is sure to come out of his shell.
Jaden Schwartz is also on the rise for the Blues. Toward the end of the season, Schwartz showed his true talent and he shined in the playoffs. With more confidence next season and the strength training he is sure to have this offseason, Schwartz is set to come back strong and have a great season. If he gets to play on a line with Tarasenko and possibly a younger, stronger centerman, there is no telling just how powerful he could become.
Coming up the ranks the Blues have two more incredibly skilled forwards. Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie should both see some time at the NHL level next season. Jaskin has a huge body but also comes with a lot of skill. If Jaskin sees time on the fourth line he could be a big difference maker for the Blues giving them the extra punch of offense on that fourth line. Rattie has a ton of skill and is setting records in the WHL left and right. If he can use his hockey sense well and not let his size deter him, he could be an elite scorer in the near future. While Rattie is sure to see more time in the AHL than Jaskin, when he is ready he is going to be a huge threat.
So while the Blues may be suffering now, and it may be hard to think about all the missed chances in the series against the Kings, the Blues have a very bright future. I am excited for the 2013-14 season and think that our scoring issues may be something of the past.
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LET’S GO BLUES!