3 NHL buyout candidates the St. Louis Blues must keep an eye on

The St. Louis Blues could remain on the cusp of returning to the playoffs in the 2024-25 season, and signing an NHL buyout candidate could be the way to go.
Nov 30, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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The St. Louis Blues could take advantage of the 2024 offseason by either getting better, getting younger, or perhaps engaging in some sort of combo. If general manager Doug Armstrong wants to take the team he has and use the assets he has to try and build a contender around it, maybe he’ll take a chance to scan who may be available during the NHL buyout period that will occur shortly after the Stanley Cup Final. 

For a team that needs help offensively, Armstrong will more likely focus on who could be available at forward, and a trio of players could be helpful in that regard. No, not all of the three players listed are outstanding scorers or points producers, but there is at least one aspect of their respective games that could work in the Blues favor. 

So let’s check out three players who could be looking for a new home in 2024-25 via a buyout and why, despite their respective ages, they would make sense for the Blues to at least keep an eye on during the buyout period.

Ryan Johansen could be better than advertised

Few had fallen off more than Ryan Johansen, who hasn’t had a decent season from a points perspective since 2021-22, when he was in his penultimate year with the Nashville Predators. That season, Johansen finished with 26 goals and 63 points, but he’s combined for just 25 goals and 51 points since. 

For a team that needs help scoring, why would Johansen be a good fit in St. Louis, especially if Doug Armstrong seems to be trying to bump up some of his higher-end prospects into full-time roles? 

Something that jumps out at me regarding Johansen is his ability to win faceoffs, and that means more potential scoring opportunities for the Blues. His career faceoff win percentage is 53.4, and if anything went right during his 63 NHL contests last season, it’s that he won 53.1 percent of those faceoffs with the Colorado Avalanche. 

That was nothing compared to the 59.6 percent of wins he recorded in 2022-23 with Nashville, but it shows that Johansen, even if he may inevitably find himself stuck on the lower lines from here on out, could be a sleeper for a team that takes a chance on him if he’s bought out. 

While with Colorado, more of his draws were also coming in the defensive zone while at even strength, with 54.7 percent of his starts on his team’s side of the ice. That was just barely a career-high, and it shows us where Johansen’s career is likely heading. So if the Blues want to generate more scoring chances next season, bringing Johansen on board if he’s available makes sense, even if his presence wouldn’t make the roster any younger.