The St. Louis Blues had quite the roller coaster ride of a season in 2016-17. They started off slowly before rallying to the point where playoffs were a certainty. That didn’t stop Doug Armstrong from shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline after they couldn’t agree to a contract extension. Despite the loss of Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, the Blues upset the Wild in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Predators in round 2. There are some questions on the blue line and in net but their forward group, if healthy, has incredible depth plus elite talent. Let’s take a look at what Mike Yeo has to work with:
Elite Talent – Vladimir Tarasenko is as consistent as they come. The Russian sniper scored 39 goals and added 36 assists while registering 3.5 shots per game. The penalty minutes dropped from the 30’s all the way down to 12 but my guess is that it goes back up. I have a slight concern that the Blues power play won’t be as good with Shattenkirk but it may not even impact Tarasenko’s totals if that happens. For his incredibly high floor and upside, Tarasenko is worthy of a first round pick. He comes in at 9th overall on my big board.
Must Draft – Jaden Schwartz should remain on the left wing opposite Tarasenko. Schwartz finished second on the team in points last season totaling 55 (19+36). He’s never been a penalty minute guy and hasn’t made an impact on the power play but maybe that changes with Shattenkirk gone? I don’t think there’s a ton of upside here but Schwartz is very safe. He comes in at 115th overall for his consistency, including in the plus-minus department.
The big offseason acquisition for the Blues brings Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for draft picks. Schenn scored 25 goals and added 30 assists for the Flyers last season with an incredible 28 PPP. I wrote this about Schenn regarding his ranking of 107th overall: “Schenn’s success will come down to two things: can he improve his even strength play in St. Louis while sustaining his power play prowess? Schenn could end up being a top 75 player if things broke right or he can become a bottom end hold if the power play points drop off significantly. I expect him to settle somewhere close to where he’s been in Philly, hence this ranking.” And that’s me copying and pasting me stealing what Grey does!
I was tempted to put Alex Steen in the elite streamer category but ultimately decided he needs to be drafted. The problem with Steen is simple: his shot rate fell off the map. After years of being a 3 shot per game player, that number plummeted last season to around 1.5 per game. Everything else about him is great for the bottom of your roster; 51 points and 53 PIM. I’m hoping that this was a random occurrence and Steen gets back to two shots per game at the least. He’s worthy of a later selection (he’ll be in my top 200).
Elite Streamers – Paul Stastny should center Schwartz and Tarasenko on the first line. He’s become a streaky player at this point of his career which makes him the perfect streaming candidate. Stastny doesn’t have any stand out category (18+22 in 66GP, 36 PIM, 1.75 SOG/G) but he has weeks at a time where he catches fire. The reason I wouldn’t draft him is the upside isn’t high enough to justify the injury risk. Stastny missed 16 games last season after missing 18 the previous season so I’d rather not depend on him.
Robby Fabbri should round out the top six. I’m a huge fan of his talent but I need to see him in action before I want to hold onto him in 12’ers. Last season was unfortunate scoring 11 goals and 18 assists in 51 games before blowing out his knee. The potential is there for Fabbri to be a monster offensively but I doubt we see it this season coming off the injury. I’ll be looking to stream him but will target others late in drafts.
Solid Streamers – Vladimir Sobotka would move into elite streamer status
if when Stastny or Steen go down. Sobotka returned to the Blues from the KHL just in time for the playoffs last season. He’s never had a big shot rate but he could be a 45 point player that gives you solid to great penalty minutes. I like him a lot as a pick in deep leagues, especially in hits leagues (spoiler alert!).
Patrik Berglund has been a solid streamer for years and that will continue once he returns from shoulder surgery in December.
We are probably a couple years away from Ivan Barbashev being a consistent fantasy option. The problem is his shot rate; 20 shots in 30 games isn’t going to cut it for anybody. The upside is there long term and there will some stretches this year where Barbashev is usable but don’t get carried away.
Must Draft – Outside of the deepest of leagues, the Blues blue line is a two man show. Alex Pietrangelo is 90th overall on my current board for his high floor and fairly high ceiling. Pietrangelo finished last season with 48 points and a solid shot rate. With Shattenkirk gone, it’s his power play to run. If you don’t get a defenseman early, I’m fine with Pietrangelo being your #1 defenseman. I think he can get back to pre-Shattenkirk totals e.g. 2011-12 where he had 12+39 with 36 PIM and 202 SOG.
Colton Parayko has developed into an excellent defenseman; can he make a jump in fantasy. Parayko had a solid, yet unspectacular stat line last season: 4+31, +7, 32 PIM, 11 STP, 188 SOG. The shot rate is great for a defenseman giving him a high enough floor to be owned everywhere. In fact, Parayko was incredibly unlucky to have only 4 goals last season. Unless he cracks the first power play unit, my expectations are tempered, but he’s a great #4D, perhaps a bottom end #3 if you think his role becomes bigger than I expect.
I expected Jake Allen to finally have his breakout last season with Brian Elliott gone but he finished with okay numbers. In 61 games, Allen won 33, finishing with a 2.42 GAA and .915 save percentage. He’s never topped a .920sv% and his career average is .915 meaning he’ll be, at best, average in that category. For that reason, Allen comes in as a #2 goalie in my rankings. He shouldn’t hurt you but Allen won’t be your savior either.
Carter Hutton remains the backup and had strikingly similar numbers to Allen in his 30 games. I would stream Hutton in quality matchups anywhere and almost all home games that he starts. The Blues should remain a quality team giving him a good chance for a win every night, the key thing I’m looking for when I stream.
HITS / BLOCKS / FACEOFF LEAGUES
Sobotka gets a boost being a hits monster while taking faceoffs. Pietrangelo is elite in blocks solidifying himself as a #1D in that format. Otherwise, there’s not really anything here. I will say that in deep leagues with these categories, I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on Joel Edmundson. He impressed me during the playoffs and, at the least, should give you quality PIM, a good plus-minus, hits and blocks.
Parayko jumps up quite a bit as he enters year three in the NHL. He should end up becoming a #2 fantasy defenseman in a couple years so adjust your rankings accordingly in dynasties. I’m more intrigued at gambling on Fabbri since you could get some long term payoff owning him. Otherwise, the rest of the Blues outside of Stastny and Steen (drop them down a bit) are entering or in their prime so they maintain their ranking.
Blue Chip – I’m a huge fan of Vince Dunn as a prospect, especially in terms of fantasy hockey. The former second round pick is the modern offensive defenseman: great skater, solid shot, terrific vision. Dunn scored 13 goals and added 32 assists with 71 PIM in the AHL last season. My guess is that he starts this season in Chicago (their AHL affiliate) again but Dunn could force his way up sooner than later. He’ll be a dominant possession player who can contribute in every category across the board. I want him in all dynasty leagues.
Barbashev also qualifies as a prospect but he’s mentioned above since he’ll be on the NHL squad. His upside isn’t at Dunn’s level but I have no doubt that Barbashev will develop into a solid two way center, probably on the second line.
High Upside – Klim Kostin was the first round pick for the Blues this year. Kostin has the tools to become a power forward with solid speed. The good thing is that his stride is excellent letting him read top speed very quickly. He’s coming over from Russia to play in the WHL for Kootenay this year which should help him get acclimated to the smaller ice surface. Kostin is a couple years away but the Blues are hoping that he becomes a top six winger down the line.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Monday with my top 200. We’re almost to preseason hockey! As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!