The St. Louis Blues did not make many waves during the 2022 offseason. Most, in fact almost all their time was spent negotiating with their own key free agents or handing out extensions.
The only people brought in from the outside that figure to be in the lineup with regularity are Noel Acciari and Josh Leivo. Other than that, it’s the guys from last season or prospects that are expected to take the next step.
Due to this, the Blues don’t get much love in the media outside of St. Louis. On the national side, they love to see the big, flashy moves. If you had a good team last year, they want to see that big piece added or a huge trade made to show them you’re taking that next step.
That’s all well and good for winning the offseason. When it comes to winning games and playoff rounds, having the best team with the most chemistry is what matters.
Normally, you can forgive the media for their hot takes. They only have so much time in the day to actually gain insight into teams. You simply cannot have in-depth knowledge on 32 teams the way people in St. Louis, or any city, are invested in their team.
However, heading into 2022-23, several of the prognosticators have gone too far. There’s not being impressed by offseason moves and then there’s lack of respect.
St. Louis is getting disrespected. Somehow the second best team in the Western Conference (third best by record), which brings back all but two key pieces, is now an afterthought.
No, afterthought isn’t even right. The Blues are apparently below mediocre.
That’s right. In a league where half the teams in each conference will make the playoffs, several pundits have the Blues missing out.
Several ESPN writers put the Blues on the outside looking in as far as making the postseason. Not only that, but there are some national media that don’t even see them challenging much within the division.
Somehow, the Blues suddenly became the fifth best team in the Central Division. Excuse me?
I often don’t do critiques of other teams because of the same reason I’m criticizing the national coverage. I don’t have enough free time to properly analyze each team.
That said, let’s get real.
The Nashville Predators had a decent season in 2021-22. They finished with 97 points, 266 goals and 252 allowed.
Their main acquisition was Nino Niederreiter. He’s a solid goal scorer, but his career high is 57 points and that was six years ago.
They also added Ryan McDonagh. That definitely gives them defensive depth, but allowing goals wasn’t really a huge problem.
How those acquisitions put the Preds ahead of the Blues is anyone’s guess.
Minnesota had a fantastic season in 2021-22. They finished with 113 points, 310 goals and 253 allowed.
No offense, but they punched above their weight class. That is not to say they are not a good team because they are. The Wild are not the second best team in conference. They just aren’t – at least I won’t believe they are until they repeat the feat.
The Wild relied heavily on Kirill Kaprisov, who stood up to the challenge with 108 points. However, they lost their second leading scorer, Kevin Fiala.
They added Filip Gustavsson, Nic Petan, Sam Steel and Andrej Sustr. None of those names illicit much response.
Cam Talbot is gone, so Marc-Andre Fleury has no safety net. I see regression for the Wild, but what do I know.
The most egregious claim is that the Dallas Stars will finish above the Blues. Dallas sucks.
Somehow they finished higher than the Predators in 2021-22. They scored a mediocre 238 goals and allowed 246, limping to 98 points and getting their coach fired.
Dallas added Will Butcher, Mason Marchment and Colin Miller. They lost Braden Holtby, John Klingberg, Vladislav Namestnikov and Alexander Radulov.
Marchment has potential. He also has the potential to be a bust addition if he was only a goal scorer because the Florida Panthers played no defense, so everyone was a goal scorer.
I have not been shown any huge additions that swing the momentum of the division in these teams favor. They were all easy outs in the playoffs.
Credit to Minnesota for pushing the series to six, but the Blues were the better team in that series. The Wild have not changed that with their offseason.
The Predators barely put up a fight in any single period against the Avalanche in their first round playoff loss, much less any game. They have not improved enough to leap over the Blues.
Dallas took their first round to seven games against the Calgary Flames. That was more on the Flames choking away games than the Stars actually being a contender.
Many will disagree with me, including Blues fans, but I don’t care. If Jordan Binnington does not get injured in the 2022 playoffs, the Blues eliminate the Avalanche.
The Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning were the only two teams to have any success against Colorado in the playoffs. St. Louis should have forced a seventh game at least, if they had not tried to take runs at Nazem Kadri instead of focusing on the game.
So, the loss of David Perron coupled with some middling additions to other teams has made a team that might have gone to the Stanley Cup final a team to miss the playoffs? No.
Perron’s loss will be a blow, but this is still the team that scored the second most goals in the conference. They allowed the third fewest. The Blues won without scoring a ton in 2019, so take Perron’s totals out and you still have a team that scored the fifth most in the conference.
No, the Blues are going to finish in a guaranteed playoff spot unless they are decimated by injury. They’re going to prove these fools wrong and show that they’re still the second best in the conference.