3 Blues Players Potentially Facing a Decline in 2022-23

Many of the St. Louis Blues players are already decent enough stars, which was further notioned by the draft effort St. Louis themselves made. However, there are some key-named players that might see their play decline this upcoming season. Maybe it won’t drop off, but here are just a couple of the Blues that might have a less-than-ideal season.

Players Facing a Stat-wise Decline: Ivan Barbashev

Barbashev did have some solid numbers in 2021-22, posting 26 goals and 34 assists for an impressive 60-point total. This is especially notable as he had never achieved such numbers in his 5-year NHL career.

Most of that boost in playing ability came from not only the amount of ice time he logged, roughly 16.5 minutes on average, but also by playing alongside perennial Blues superstar Vladimir Tarasenko. Barbashev would later be shifted to the line of Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, another solid Blues line.

Now you’re probably wondering why exactly Barbashev will see his play decline this season. Numbers like 60 points and a 16.5 average ice time aren’t easy to come by.

Since Barbashev hadn’t done that before in his career, it’s unlikely he could post similar numbers this season. Maybe he will, but for just about any player in the NHL, a statline like Barbashev’s in 2021-22 isn’t something quickly done.

Players with the Injury Bug: Brayden Schenn

Schenn was hampered by injury in 2021-22, only playing in 62 of of 82 regular-season contests. He did manage similar numbers to Barbashev, logging 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 total points.

However, there’s a stark difference between the two – Barbashev played in all regular season games but 1 while Schenn missed an entire quarter’s worth. Of course, Schenn has been in the league quite a bit longer than Barbs, starting his career with the Los Angeles Kings before playing in Philadelphia for nearly a decade.

Schenn has played with the Blues since 2017-18. In that time, he’s logged 110 goals in 343 games played with 166 assists for 276 points, easily surpassing his time in both Philly and LA.

The biggest reason why Schenn may see his play decline is simple – his history of injuries. Remember, he only played in 62 games last season, missing a huge chunk of 2021-22 in the process. If he missed something like that again in 2022-23, I don’t think anybody would be surprised

Players with an Uncertain Future: Vladimir Tarasenko

What?? No! Say it isn’t so!

I’m afraid it is so. Even when Tarasenko is at his best, something could still happen.

Tarasenko’s actually in the final year of his current contract, which lasts 8 years and is worth $60 million. However, Vlad is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and if St. Louis can’t come up with an agreement on a new contract, Vlad may be calling somewhere other than St. Louis home for the next few years or so.

Of course, an opinion like that is a bit too early, but the average fan knows how crazy offseason free agency can get. Just ask the Calgary Flames.

Vlad is expected to make $9.5 million (actual salary, not cap hit) this season, but even that has its own problems, as it’s a sharp incline from a couple of seasons ago, when he made roughly half that much. Vlad also didn’t have the best seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21, where he only played in a mere 24 and 10 games, a fact that seems illegitimate given the fact he played in 75 games this past season. And that’s still missing a handful!

Could the combination of the injury bug and contract disagreements send Tarasenko packing? Only the summer of 2023 will tell. Blues fans will already be on the edge of their seats. How many of their star players face a disappointing road ahead?