Pavel Buchenvich and Robert Thomas are two players that will look to turn around a St. Louis Blues 2022-23 season that may have not gone according to plan. St. Loius missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 6 years.
But brighter things are on the horizon for the Blues. Some involve player improvements, like for the veteran Buchnevich and Thomas, and the debuts of players that could have a breakout season in St. Louis, like the Kevin Hayes with his first season in the Gateway to The West coming from Philly.
The Power Duo of Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich
In just two seasons with St. Louis, Buchnevich has already solidified himself as one of the Blues’ top forwards, both team-wise and maybe even as one of the league’s best. He’s totaled 143 points in 136 games, with 57 goals and 87 assists to boot.
That’s pretty impressive for a guy in his 7th year in the league. Those goal numbers are some of his best since coming from the Rangers.
Buchnevich had a career-high goals count in his first season in a Blues sweater as well. While Buch hasn’t been perfectly healthy in both his seasons with St. Louis, he’s still managed to log 60+ of the 82 regular season games in an NHL season both times. That’s also nothing to sniff at.
Robert Thomas, on the other hand, is looking for a bounce-back 2023-24 season where he may surpass his career-high goal count from 2021-22 when he netted 20 basket biscuits and had 57 helpers for a solid 77 points. Even though his performance in 2022-23 may not have been as impressive (18 G, 47 A, 65 PTS), he’s still one of the Blues’ top offensive threats.
It’s also worth mentioning that his career-high goal season saw Thomas have a nomination for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, given to the player who exhibits the best sportsmanship and conduct alongside a stellar playing ability. A return to form, or even better numbers, would help the team bounce back.
The Arrival of Kevin Hayes
Bringing in former Flyers and New York Rangers veteran Kevin Hayes was the highlight of the Blues’ 2023 offseason. Throughout his career, Hayes has been a solid point producer with seven of nine seasons above 40 points, including 54 points last season.
He also only missed 1 game in 2022-23 due to a healthy scratch. Hayes did undergo offseason core muscle surgery, but one should expect him to be more than ready for 2023-24.
This is a 9-year league veteran with tons of experience, spending 4 years apiece with two Eastern Conference juggernauts. Expect him to deliver for the Blues this season.
Hofer Takes His Shot for Starting Goaltender
After spending much of his time with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield, goaltender Joel Hofer could be a solid contender for starting goalie this season, even above regular Jordan Binnington. Maybe he’ll have more control over his temper than Binner, but we’ll cross that bridge much, much later!
Hofer did have a handful of starts in 2022-23, racking up a .905 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against average while spending most of the rest of the season in Springfield, playing in 47 games with a 2.50 SV% and a solid .921 GAA.
Hofer’s played in 8 career NHL games in his young career, a pair in 2021-22 and 6 in 2022-23, with the stats above. After cycling through guys like Jake Allen, Ville Husso, Thomas Greiss, and Jordan Binnington above all else, Hofer may be the net guardian for the Blues for years to come with the amount of minor pro experience he’s got.