The St. Louis Blues sat at 6th of 8th place in the NHL's Central division with a 21-20-2 record overall and a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games. Now that we've passed the halfway point of the 2023-24 NHL season, who are the Blues' biggest difference makers so far?
One of them is a first-time all star this season. The others have also been talented, though not quite ASG worthy.
But, they all have one thing in common - you can expect them to stick around for the next few years after this season concludes sometime in mid-June. Whether or not the Blues even make it that far is another story.
The first of the Blues' so-called "Core 4" is of course, Robert Thomas. Obviously, a first time All-Star would be an integral part of helping a relatively struggling team work its way out of the lower rungs on the divisional standings ladder.
The 24-year-old will be playing in front of his home-town crowd on February 3, and it makes sense given he leads the Blues in most major offensive categories this season, including goals (16), assists (28), points (44), and even plus-minus rating (11). No wonder that Thomas, who is under contract with St. Louis until at least 2031-32, is a member of the Blues' core. He signed an 8-year extension before the 2022-23 season, effectively locking him up in St. Louis for the next 10 years.
Defenseman Colton Parayko is the 2nd of the Blues' core 4 for 2023-24. The 30-year old-native of St. Albert, Alberta is in his 9th NHL season, all of which have been spent with St. Louis. Just like Thomas, he's locked in for quite a while, eligible to become a UFA starting after the 2030-31 season. Talk about having confidence in your players! Parayko may only have 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points so far this season, but he's more than made up for it by having a bounce back campaign in 2023-24, helping him win more fans over after a disappointing 2022-23 season. Of course, that season as a whole was disappointing for the Blues entirely, but that's besides the point.
Pavel Buchnevich is the Blues' best winger so far this season, with 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points, good enough for 2nd on the team behind Thomas in the first category and 3rd in the last two, behind star Jordan Kyrou. He's also the Blues' core 4 member they"ll have to keep the biggest eye on, seeing as how his current 4 year, $23.2 million contract expires after this season. If he's not re-signed because the Blues don't have enough cap space, the 28-year-old Russian could hit the trade block once again just a couple years after the Blues snagged him from the New York Rangers.
Finally, there's the aforementioned Jordan Kyrou. He's still got plenty of years left in St. Louis, riding an 8-year, $65 million contract and being locked up until 2031-32, just like Thomas. Despite fan sentiment, his stats are good enough for it, too. With 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points, tying him for 2nd on the team with Buchnevich, Kyrou has had quite a decent amount of success in his young 6 year NHL career. He picked up a hat trick in a 5-2 win over one of the league's top teams in the New York Rangers just last week, further proving his worth so far this season.
So with these 4 big name players, the Blues seem to be pretty dialed in making another potential playoff run. The only question now is: can they make this offense as good as their defense, which still needs a few tweaks?