After years of playoff struggles, the St. Louis Blues finally made a deep run into the playoffs in 2015-16, losing to the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Finals. This offseason, they lost their captain in free agency and traded one of their goaltenders while making only one minor signing. Health and true breakouts for the young cores will largely determine their fate this season. Let’s take a look at the Blues roster along with their top prospects:
After years of being stuck in the minors or splitting the job, Jake Allen finally has the #1 job to himself following the trade of Brian Elliott. Allen was splitting last season until Elliott was injured and was a top 5 fantasy goalie halfway through the season. Unfortunately, Allen suffered his own injury and then Elliott was incredible. Allen finished with 26 wins, a 2.35 GAA and .920 sv% in 47 appearances (44 starts). The only concern here is that 44 starts is the most he’s ever had in a season but Allen looked perfectly comfortable before the injury. I have him ranked 29th overall and the #7 overall goalie, high praise for someone this inexperienced but I’m confident he can deliver.
Carter Hutton comes over from Nashville to be Allen’s backup. Last season was the first successful year in Hutton’s NHL career posting a 2.33 GAA and .918 sv% in 17 appearances (15 starts). He’s obviously must-own if Allen gets injured again but if I draft Allen in a rotisserie league, I’d draft Hutton late simply to lock up all 82 Blues starts and to have insurance on Allen. In head to head leagues, leave him on the waiver wire to stream.
A no-brainer top 10 defenseman going into last season, Kevin Shattenkirk‘s 2015-16 was quite a mess. While the 14 goals were a career high and the shot rate increased, he dropped to only 30 assists in 72 games along with a -14 rating. 27 of his 44 points were on special teams meaning that he simply has to pick up his play at even strength. We’ve seen the type of upside he has in 2014-15 when he scored 44 points in 56 games adding 52 PIM; if things go right you’re looking at 60 points with great PIM and shots. Now, after missing 10 games again and with trade rumors constantly around him, there’s also plenty of risk as well. I put him 82nd overall as a great gamble to take in that spot.
Alex Pietrangelo is a big name but he doesn’t bring much to the fantasy table outside of assists. He finished last season with 7 goals and 30 assists in 73 games. As a bottom end guy in 12’ers, he’s decent but don’t expect more from Pietrangelo. The penalty minutes are poor and the power play points are very bad (only 5 last season). He’s third in line to get on the first power play unit behind Shattenkirk and the next guy so I don’t see how he gets much of an increase either. He’s another example of a guy I hope goes early based on his real life value.
The other guy in Pietrangelo’s way is Colton Parayko. Parayko took the league by storm when Shattenkirk went down injured and carved himself out a nice role as a rookie. He finished with 9 goals, 24 assists, a +28 rating and over two shots per game. In dynasties, he’s one of my favorite mid to late round picks because when Shattenkirk leaves, he’s QB’ing the power play. In redrafts, Parayko is worth a late round pick because of the upside he’s shown and potential for getting time on the first power play this year.
The three defensemen on the left side for the Blues aren’t even close to fantasy worthy.
Vladimir Tarasenko solidified himself as a first round pick in fantasy drafts with his 2015-16 performance. The 24 year old scored 40 goals and 34 assists with over 3.5 shots per game. Add in 24 PPP, 37 PIM and a +7 and you have plus contributions in all categories with elite goals and shots. Tarasenko had a career high 18:38 ATOI but I expect that number to increase even more so there’s even more upside here. I have Tarasenko ranked 7th overall and would love to get him in the middle to back part of the first round.
Injuries ruined Jaden Schwartz‘ season limiting him to only 33 games. As I mentioned in my top 75 where I have Schwartz ranked 68th, I’m throwing last year out the window. I expect Schwartz to get back to his 2014-15 season where he scored 63 points in 75 games with decent contributions everywhere but penalty minutes.
The third member of the STL line, Jori Lehtera, is a long way behind his linemates in fantasy. There is a chance for some improvement but also some major concern. Lehtera scored only 34 points after 44 points as a rookie; he’s been at least +12 each season and the penalty minutes are solid. He also could get time on the first power play unit with the departure of David Backes. The problem is Lehtera’s unwillingness to shoot the damn puck. In 79 games, Lehtera had only 83 shots on goal. That’s crippling in a roto league. In deep head to head leagues, I’d draft him late and in standard head to head leagues, I’d look to stream him. In rotisserie leagues, I’m letting him sit on waivers until he shows he’ll shoot more.
Alex Steen had a normal season by his standards; play very well but miss a chunk of games. Steen finished with 52 points last year with a career high in PIM but missed 15 games again. He simply can’t stay healthy for a full season which puts a damper on his value. His shot rate also took a big step back although he remained above average. I have Steen ranked 89th assuming he plays 70ish games because on a per-game basis, he’s pushing the top 50.
Alright, time to get the Robby Fabbri hype train moving again! I talked about Fabbri at length last season (click his name to look in the archives) due to his huge upside. Fabbri finished with 18 goals and 19 assists in 72 games and 15 points in 20 playoff games. Not bad for a 20 year old rookie. But that’s not the exciting part! Fabbri averaged only 13:19 last regular season and 14:22 in the playoffs. Fabbri is now a lock for a top 6 role which should bring that total into the 16-17 range. While the full breakout may not be until 2017-18, there’s a chance it comes this year. It’ll take a shot increase (almost always comes year 2) for him to become a fantasy stud but it’s coming eventually. I’ll have Fabbri in the top 150 this year expecting him to get 50+ points and want him on all of my dynasty teams.
Paul Stastny had a very nice second season in St. Louis with 49 points (10+39) in 64 games. He’s had some injury issues the last few seasons but more importantly, his shot rate has plummeted. You can’t ignore a guy who played at a 63 point pace, especially now that Backes is gone, but Stastny is only good for assists at this point. Granted, he is elite in assists but don’t reach for him. Stastny should be drafted in 10 man leagues and deeper but there’s not much upside at this point in his career.
David Perron has returned to the Blues after bouncing around the last few seasons. After he was traded to Anaheim, Perron had a great finish to the season scoring 20 points in 28 games. Granted, it helps to play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry but there is some hope here because of the penalty minutes and passable shots. He’s right on the fringe of being draftable in 12’ers and if he’s available after your draft, I’d look to stream him.
There isn’t much going on in the bottom six for the Blues. I’m not sure which of these 7 guys will be on the third line but other than that player, I wouldn’t draft any of the guys on the 3rd and 4th lines. Patrik Berglund should be the guy to move into the top 6 if there are injuries but I still wouldn’t own him in 12’ers if he’s in that role.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Ivan Barbashev
2) Ty Rattie
3) Vince Dunn
4) Jordan Schmaltz
5) Tage Thompson
That’s all for now guys. I will be back on Monday with either the Stars preview or the next portion of my rankings. The reason for no post tomorrow is that we are recording a Razzball Hockey Podcast! Be on the lookout for that being posted as early as Friday and Monday at the latest. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Have a great weekend, take care!