St. Louis Blues 2008 Offseason Report
The St. Louis Blues started the season in great shape winning 22 of their first 41 games of the season. For some reason the team fell off the planet during the final half of the year, winning only 11 of the last 41 games of the year. Long story short, it was an ugly non-playoff year.
One of the biggest problems the Blues had during the year was scoring. Even though Brad Boyes put in 43 goals including 11 on the power play during the year, St. Louis averaged only 2.63 goals per game. Paul Kariya and Boyes both had a team best 65 points followed by veteran pest Keith Tkachuk with 58 points. These three do make a decent triple threat but that is all the Blues really have.
Defensemen are lacking in St. Louis even after drafting Erik Johnson first overall in 2006. Johnson held his own during the year playing in 69 games and tallying 33 points; the problem is that no one else did. Eric Brewer is a highly over rated player and is being paid a lot of money to finish a season with a -19 plus/minus ratio and only 22 points.
To hopefully improve the defensive core, the Blues drafted Alex Pietrangelo fourth overall and he will help with his offensive touch. Between him and Johnson, this can easily be the same MacInnis/Pronger combo of the past.
Old timer Manny Legace took responsibility for the majority of the games and was St. Louis’s best player of the season. Though goalie prospect Hannu Toivonen played in only 23 games in 07’, it may be time to test him in taking control of the team. Instead of giving Toivonen a chance in net, the Blues signed former Predator Chris Mason as the official back-up goalie.
St. Louis ended the year with 79 points in second last place in the Western Conference with Los Angeles being worse. Their 33-36-13 record will not improve unless the franchise begins to utilize the young, talented players they have in the minors.
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Notable top players staying for the St. Louis Blues:
Paul Kariya, Brad Boyes, Keith Tkachuk, Andy Mcdonald, David Perron, Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer, Manny Legace
St. Louis Blues - Players lost to free agency:
St. Louis Blues - Players added via free agency:
What St. Louis has:
- The have a new scoring machine in Boyes but also have great young players in the system. Andy Mcdonald is one of those “hit or miss” players and according to his career pattern, 2008-2009 should be a “hit” season.
- A newly formed 1-2 punch on the blue line with Johnson and Pietrangelo that have potential to change the franchise. They also have a monster in the minors named Roman Polak whose defensive size can protect the front of the net.
- Loyal fans who deserve to a playoff team. The St. Louis Blues were once a guarantee to make the playoffs, now they struggle to make it interesting.
What St. Louis needs:
- At least two more offensive talents. They missed the ball on signing Pavol Demitra, Martin Straka and Brenden Morrison. Not too many top names left but there is salary cap space to sign solid second line players.
- An experienced defenseman. Again, the Blues missed the memo that Brad Stuart, Mark Streit and John-Micheal Liles were all available at affordable prices.
Expectations for the Blues next year:
- This team will not make the playoffs next year. The goaltending is not good enough and the offensive depth is not even close to compete. St. Louis’s defense will be much better but the team will continue to be one of the worst at scoring goals. Missouri will be singing the Blues, not watching them win.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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