3 mistakes the St. Louis Blues and Doug Armstrong cannot afford to make this offseason

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has a chance to turn his franchise back into a true contender for the 2024-25 season.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Dave Sandford/GettyImages
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Getting the coaching hire wrong will set this franchise back

Drew Bannister performed well enough to where he’s at least getting a long look, and rightfully so. Bannister finished the year with a 30-19-5 record, good for 65 points in 54 contests and between 97 and 100 across 82 matchups. For context, the latter number suggests the Blues may have unseated the Vegas Golden Knights this season with the 82-game adjustment, even if they have the weaker lineup on paper. 

If Armstrong wants to hire someone other than Bannister, he needs to make sure that the coach can lead this team to at least 100 points next year. Should he bring in someone and the Blues either regress or keep relatively the same points total, everyone will rightfully point the finger at Armstrong and shout, “Why didn’t he just keep Drew Bannister on board?”

Bringing in an experienced coach like Lindy Ruff would have been ideal, but the Buffalo Sabres got there first. That said, Ruff isn’t the only one out there who could bring in an elite standard and get the most out of the current lineup with perhaps another solid addition or two. 

Overall, Bannister looks like the lower-risk, higher-reward type, so he may be the “safe selection” here. That said, it may not be worth the risk to roll with anyone else, especially if Bannister was on pace for 45 to 46 wins and 7 to 8 overtime losses. Unless he can get a seasoned veteran with a better track record, Bannister may be the guy.