St. Louis Blues: Let’s not overreact to the Central Division free agency frenzy

On July 1st, NHL teams made historical moves in free agency, spending over 1 billion dollars signing free agents. Many of these moves came within the Central Division.
St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche
St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

Between the NHL draft and the opening of free agency, hockey experts raved that the Central Division improved significantly.

From draft day trades like Utah pulled off to the loading up of big-name free agents in Nashville, to the three first-round picks made by Chicago, plus their activity bringing in veterans in free agency, the Central Division teams were busy between both events.

Other teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars also made headway by signing players to fill critical gaps.

And then there was the St. Louis Blues, who remained pretty silent. Sure, the Blues had two second and third-round picks, and drafted Adam Jiricek in the first round at the No. 16 spot, but GM Doug Armstrong remained quiet on the opening day of free agency.

Eventually, the team made a trade to acquire Alexandre Texier, followed by deals the next day that brought in Radek Faksa, Mathieu Joseph, and Joseph’s brother Pierre-Olivier Joseph.

But overall, the Blues were quieter than some within the Central Division—so much so that fans and experts alike have blatantly predicted the Blues’ fall to being one of the worst teams in the division come 2024-25.

The St. Louis Blues are better than most pundits realize

Pump the brakes. The Blues finished fifth in the division with a record of 43-33-6, and notably 30-19-5 under Drew Bannister.

Sure, the Blue didn’t acquire any big names and probably won’t. However, they do have a goaltending tandem in Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer that proved they could play with the best in the league.

And lest we forget, the team played well at the end of the season, pushing for the post-season; they barely missed the playoffs.

With all the talk of Nashville loading up with talent and Colorado, Utah, and Chicago bringing in the big guns, the Blues have talent centered on youth themselves in Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Jake Neighbours.

I’ve already predicted Neighbours is just getting started. Thomas showcased a level of play at the center position that ranked among the top ten, with room for further growth.

Kyrou’s numbers have decreased in the past three years, but he’s still young and the top goal-scorer. And then there’s Pavel Buchnevich, one of the biggest threats the Blues have in scoring.

I’m not overly concerned. You can load up on all the veteran talent you want, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Slow down on making the Predators unbeatable.

Likewise, the Utah Hockey Club, formerly the Arizona Coyotes, must prove themselves. In terms of their franchise, their record in NHL hockey is among the worst. And do Blues fans automatically think the Blackhawks will dominate by bringing in a handful of aging veterans?

I’m not worried. In my eyes, not much has changed. Colorado is probably the best team in the division on paper, followed by the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars.

But there is enough existing talent in St. Louis to compete.

Maybe it’s my personal bias and fandom talking but bring on the challenge. Sometimes, change isn’t better, and I’m trusting Armstrong on this one. And did we forget? We may see another youngster arrive in Dalibor Dvorsky.

Regardless, I’ll stick with Thomas, Kyrou, Buchnevich, and Neighbours over Nashville’s older, aging additions.