The St. Louis Blues seem to be teetering between being one of the worst teams in the league, and a mediocre team but being mediocre may be worse than being terrible.
After a less than impressive win against the Florida Panthers, the St. Louis Blues are slowly climbing themselves out of the massive hole they dug themselves into to start the season.
If you look at the standings, the Blues are still at the bottom. However, the roster indicates that this should not be the case, and if the Blues climb out to be in the middle of the table, it could end up crippling the franchise for years to come.
Unless general manager Doug Armstrong is willing to trade guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jake Allen, then it is hard to imagine that this team will finish at the bottom of the standings.
In short, the Blues either need to string together a series of consecutive wins, which is something that they have been unable to do so far this year, or they need to tank, and tank hard.
The worst thing that the Blues can do this year is finish in the middle half of the Western Conference, and although that may look like a longshot now, it’s becoming a real possibility.
Currently, the Blues have 26 points on the season and sit just nine points back of the second wild-card spot in the playoffs. This is not an impossible feat by any means, and obviously, the Blues are set on pushing for a playoff spot.
The tricky thing about it is, the Blues have key pending unrestricted free agents both after this year, and next year. Brayden Schenn, Patrick Maroon, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Robert Bortuzzo, and Carl Gunnarsson are all free agents over the next two years.
This is a significant group of players, and although some of these names are not the same players they were five years ago, it will not be easy to replace any of these guys, so it is vital that the Blues make good use of these guys while they are still here.
The upside of this team is still very good, and they still have the same team they had when they traded for Ryan O’Reilly and signed David Perron and Tyler Bozak. Not to mention, Jake Allen who has been sensational lately for St. Louis.
There is the other side of the coin, and the Blues could choose to tank and get a lottery pick and a chance to draft one of the best young prospects of the last decade in Jack Hughes.
This is an option that I am not in favor of. If the draft system were similar to the NFL or MLB where the team with the worst record picks first and vice-versa, then I would consider this strategy, but the lottery is inconsistent and could leave the Blues with a worse pick and a player that won’t be ready for five years.
There is another reason why the Blues being mediocre could doom the Blues both short term and long term. When the Blues acquired O’Reilly, they gave up a protected pick for next year. St. Louis does have the option to keep the pick if it falls in the top 10.
So if the Blues miss out on the lottery and end up with pick 11, then that pick would go straight to the Buffalo Sabres.
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I am all for the Blues going on a massive winning streak to get them back into contention, but I have my doubts. If you have read my articles recently, I am being incredibly optimistic, however, that patience is wearing off as the season goes on.