Blues in a minor?
After a season that can be best described as lackluster, the St. Louis Blues find themselves at a crossroads. They finished the 2022-2023 season with 81 points, a sixth-place finish in the Central Division, and no invitation to the postseason party. Was it a one-off or the start of a downward trend? This analysis aims to shed some light on what Blues fans can expect from the upcoming 2023-2024 NHL season.
A Recap of Woes: 2022-2023 Season
The previous season started with decent promise as indicated by their ESBC Power AI metrics, only for things to crumble in the latter half.
The Blues' dip in performance continued when they decided to move some significant pieces before the trade deadline, including stars Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly. These moves sent the team's ESBC Power AI rating into a further decline, even falling below their total points, which is an alarming sign for any NHL franchise.
Offseason Moves: Quiet but Crucial
Due to cap restrictions, the Blues had a relatively quiet offseason. The most notable addition is forward Kevin Hayes. St. Louis let go of some depth and farm system players but retained the majority of their core roster. Given the Blues' current cap situation, the absence of blockbuster moves is understandable but could be a point of concern.
Analytics and Expectations: Where to From Here?
In terms of analytics, the ESBC Power AI metrics provide a grim outlook. Having a rating below the team's actual points signals systemic issues that could carry into the next season. To turn things around, several things need to happen:
Goaltending: Jordan Binnington, the No. 1 goalie, must find his form again after a challenging season. Joel Hofer, as the backup, also has to step up.
New Additions: Hayes, Jakub Vrana, and Kasperi Kapanen will need to help fill the void left by Tarasenko and O'Reilly.
- Emerging Stars: Jordan Kyrou has the skills to become a 40-goal scorer, and this could be his breakout season.
Craig Berube continues as the head coach, and while he led the team to a championship in 2018-2019, the Blues have been on a slow decline ever since.
The Verdict: A Tough Road Ahead
In light of these factors, it seems the Blues are in for another challenging season. While they still have a decent roster on paper, they'll need significant contributions from new and existing players and a turnaround in goal to become playoff contenders again. Otherwise, the most likely scenario is another finish around 80 points and missing the playoffs.
In essence, the 2023-2024 season could be a defining one for the Blues. It will either signal the need for a more thorough rebuild or serve as a stepping stone back to competitiveness. Either way, the onus is on the team to defy the analytics and prove that last season was an aberration, not a new norm.
(Please read our Disclaimer for NHL Team Points Distribution Histograms.)
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