St. Louis Blues 2022-23 Preseason Line Combination Prediction

St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) and defenseman Nick Leddy (4)Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) and defenseman Nick Leddy (4)Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues still have plenty of time for their coaching staff to figure out their lines. Training camp has not yet begun, after all.

As is the way in sports, the general manager has assembled the team. It’s up to Craig Berube and his assistants to form that assembly into a honed, fighting machine that is capable of taking on the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche and a host of other contenders.

However, the Blues are not as far off as many think. They are not likely considered a Stanley Cup favorite, but they still challenged the Avalanche more than any other supposedly more talented team.

The biggest question is how the departure of David Perron will impact the team. Sometimes the loss of goals isn’t the biggest thing, but rather the chemistry of the lines and keeping other players in less stressful positions.

That is the challenge Berube faces. Will his team be formed in a way that keeps guys on their proper lines or will guys be forced to play higher up the lineup.

As said, there’s lots of time for the team to figure this out. However, let’s take a crack at what those line combinations might look like.


The defensive combinations might be some of the easier ones to figure out. There will almost certainly be changes early in the season, but this is how things seem likely to start.

D1: Torey Krug, Justin Faulk

This is a matter of how you define top pairing, really. Things will change game to game.

In terms of defending the other team’s top lines, Krug and Faulk might not get the first duty. Nevertheless, from a pure talent standpoint, these two are the top pair.

The only thing either of them has going against them is their height. They’re both more physical and better defenders than anyone gives them credit for.

Of course, they’ve both known for their offense. Faulk’s 47 points was the most he’s had since 49 in 2014-15 and his second highest ever.

Krug still managed over 40 points, despite missing 18 games. They’ll work well together to start.

D2: Nick Leddy, Colton Parayko

Fans will be disappointed that Parayko is not the top defender, but things simply don’t work that way for every team. He is still the one the team is going to heavily rely on, but maybe he’s not that true, top-tier defenseman like Scott Stevens or Chris Pronger.

Regardless, he’s going to be the team’s best defender or they’ll have the same issues as last season. If he can form chemistry with Leddy, this could be just as solid a defensive pairing as Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester.

Like big Bouw, Leddy is a steady defender and will give Parayko more flexibility to be bold. It would be nice to have that long reach like Bouwmeester, but Leddy’s positional awareness will suffice.

D3: Niko Mikkola, Robert Bortuzzo

This pairing is really the only one in question. Do you play the bigger contract in Marco Scandella or the player with a longer future in Mikkola?

Perhaps both play if Berube gets ambitious and plays two left-handed defenders. However, if they choose to stick with the righty/lefty comination, then Robert Bortuzzo is the only right hander left.


The forward lines are where it gets interesting. Previous combinations are gone, forcing guys that played well together to be separated or find chemistry with others.

Line 1: Brayden Schenn, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou

This is my top line mostly because of the center. As with everything, the opponent and style of the game will dictate things, but I think Thomas is going to garner first-line minutes this season.

While they had ups and downs, Blues fans should hope to see a much longer pairing of Thomas and Kyrou. The speed and skill combination would be very difficult to deal with.

Ideally, Schenn would be played on the second line. However, he’s still got the skill to play in that top trio and the physicality to protect the other two. I know he still wants to be a center, but he’s better suited in the top six than a third line center.

Line 2: Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko

This trio will, or can, be very interesting. For several seasons we’ve seen O’Reilly paired with David Perron for all except a few games here or there.

Now, he’s got to prove how good he is once more. Having 30-goal scorers in Tarasenko and Buchnevich on your wings will definitely help.

The biggest issue with this line isn’t talent. It’s chemistry.

For whatever reason, either coaching decisions or personality mismmatch, O’Reilly hasn’t been played with Tarasenko much. It’s a shame because he seemed like just the center Tarasenko would need when the Blues acquired him.

This season would be the perfect time for that pairing, and this trio, to really hit a stride. If nothing else, Tarasenko in a contract year will be fun to watch.

Line 3: Brandon Saad, Ivan Barbashev, Jake Neighbours

The Blues have a history of oddly matched third lines in recent times, but this one might take the cake. Nevertheless, the talent and the drive is there.

In a perfect world, I’d like to keep Saad with O’Reilly. However, keeping the two Russian wingers makes more sense at first.

So, Saad will have to ply his trade with totally new linemates. Again, in a perfect world, I think Barbashev is better suited to the wing and maybe even on the fourth line.

Given his explosion of goals in 2021-22, he’ll see bigger minutes. He has to earn them again and he doesn’t have much in the way of a net in terms of being replaced in the middle. Schenn is the only other top six option.

Neighbours is the biggest if though. I think he’s ready and doesn’t have anything more to learn.

Whether he’s truly ready for a top-six role on a sure-fire NHL playoff team remains to be seen. However, I don’t see another good option for that wing.

Line 4: Alexey Toropchenko, Logan Brown, Klim Kostin

This isn’t your typical bruising fourth line, but there’s talent there. There’s a lot of size too.

At 6’3, Kostin is actually the shortest player. He might be the feistiest too.

We all wanted Kostin to be the next player in the vein of Barbashev or Buchnevich, but maybe a fourth-line player is where he’s suited. He developed a fighting style in the minors and he’s willing to get his nose dirty.

Toropchenko did the same. Whether in limited playoff duty or a longer stint at the end of last season, he showed a willingness to throw the body and put his body on the line.

Brown needs to be better defensively, but if he wants to stick in the NHL, he’ll have to fit in where there’s a spot.

Overall, the Blues have talent and the potential to be a fun team. Surely, the loss of Perron makes the lines a little harder to form, but it also forces the players to form new relationships.

These lines are not going to last the entire season. It’s how I would start the season though.