We are four days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the St. Louis Blues.
|David Perron – LW – (from ANA)||David Backes – C – (to BOS)|
|Nail Yakupov – RW – (from EDM)||Brian Elliott – G – (to CGY)|
|Carter Hutton – G – (from NSH)||Troy Brouwer – RW – (to CGY)|
|Landon Ferraro – C – (from BOS)||Steve Ott – RW – (to DET)|
|Ken Agostino – LW – (from CGY)||Anders Nilsson – G – (to BUF)|
Injured: Jaden Schwartz
Since Ken Hitchcock took over as the Blues head coach, they have gone 224-103-36 and made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. Despite all of the playoff appearances, the Blues have never made it past the Western Conference Final.
Last year, they ranked in the middle of the pack in goals for (15th), but found themselves near the top of the league in goals against (4th), which is nothing new to them. Under Hitchcock the Blues rank second in the NHL in goals against (2.26 GA/PG) over the last five seasons. Their 2.73 goals per game over that same span is good for 12th.
Given the Blues defensive prowess, it all starts and ends with their goalies and they will have a slightly new look in 2016-17. For the last three years the Blues have leaned on veteran Brian Elliott and up-and-comer Jake Allen. This summer Elliott was traded to Calgary, so Allen becomes a true No.1 for the first time in his young career. The 26-year-old has been groomed for this since being drafted in the second round (34th overall) in 2008. He has appeared in 99 career NHL games, going 57-26-7 with a 2.34 GAA and .915 save percentage (.920 SV% last year). Allen should start about 60 games behind one of the best defensive teams in the league, making him a potential No.1 fantasy option in his first year as a starter. Pekka Rinne’s former backup in Nashville, Carter Hutton, signed with the Blues this summer and he will serve as Allen’s backup. Hutton comes in with a career .910 SV% in 76 career NHL appearances.
Up front, the Blues are carried by Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The 24-year-old is coming off of his first career 40-goal season and is third in the NHL in goals (77) over the last two years. Tarasenko has regularly played with Jori Lehtera, who has underwhelmed from a fantasy perspective and Jaden Schwartz, who will miss the start of the year with an elbow injury. They lost David Backes (signed in Boston) and Troy Brouwer (signed in Calgary), but replaced them by signing David Perron and acquiring Nail Yakupov from Edmonton last night. Perron and Yakupov are skilled forwards, but they are giving up a ton of size compared to Backes and Brouwer. The Blues have a nice complement of veterans and youth at forward. Paul Stastny and Alex Steen are key members of their top-6 and should be found near the top of the team in scoring. Second-year forward Robby Fabbri enjoyed a quality rookie campaign and is a breakout candidate in 2016-17 as he gets regular top-6 minutes and power-play ice-time. The addition of former No.1 overall pick, Yakupov, likely pushes Ty Rattie back down the depth chart, which is nothing new for the former second round pick (32nd overall in 2011). Rattie has picked up big numbers at the AHL level, but hasn’t been given a fair shake with the Blues—eight points (4G / 4A) in 26 career NHL games. He comes into this year as a bottom-6 forward yet again.
Their blueline will rival almost any team in the league, thanks to a stellar top-3—Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester. Pietrangelo is coming off of a disappointing 2015-16 season, having posted just 37 points (7G / 30A) in 73 games. Shattenkirk is the key fantasy producer on the back-end. The 27-year-old has 45, 44 and 44 points over the last three years. Bouwmeester is a shutdown defenseman with limited fantasy relevance. Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo are the Bouwmeester’s of the second and third pair, but Colton Parayko has massive fantasy potential this year. The 23-year-old hard nine goals and 24 assists (33 points) in his rookie year and should score double-digit goals thanks to a huge point-shot and power-play usage.
Overall, the Blues have changed quite a bit this offseason, but they remain a tough team to play against and one of the better possession teams in the NHL. The Central Division is one of the toughest in the league, but the Blues could finish at the top of it. They’ve always been a great regular season team, but they need to figure out how to get it done in the playoffs.
Blues in the DFO Top 275:
- 9. Vladamir Tarasanko – RW
- 40. Jake Allen – G
- 55. Jaden Schwartz – LW
- 90. Kevin Shattenkirk – D
- 122. Alex Pietrangelo – D
- 143. Alex Steen – LW
- 174. Paul Stastny – C
- 176. Robby Fabbri – LW
- 191. Colton Parayko – D
- 262. Jori Lehtera – C
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Blues’ 230 wins over the last five years is the most in the NHL. They are consistently one of the best regular season squads but have struggled with a 20-31 record in the playoffs over the same stretch.