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By Jason Garrick
St. Louis Blues Writer
The St. Louis Blues have gone through a transition period this offseason. What kind? Well, it begins with losing captain David Backes to free agency. Boston felt like being wild and decided that there current midlife crisis could be solved by signing a 32-year-old center for five years $60M (good luck with that). Then you have Troy Brouwer who signed a four-year $18M contract (seems a bit more reasonable ). That besides losing Brian Elliot to trade with Calgary sums up the loss for the Blue Note. Regarding finer details, the Blues lose in Backes 21 goals, 24 assists, and 45 points, not including a playoffs which in 20 games the former captain scored seven goals with seven assists and 14 points with a +/- of 1. In the case of Troy Brouwer, who had some memorable playoff moments for the note, you lose a player who gave you 18 goals, 21 assists, and 39 points in 82 games. In 20 playoff games, Brouwer had eight goals, five assists, and 13 points. Pretty significant especially when you lose two players who were big for the Note regarding leadership, however losing them in the long terms is good, the reason? You can re-sign Robby Fabbri and Colten the Bolten Parayko to long term deals, and you don’t have to deal with the issue of a buyout for Backes or Brower, which GM Doug Armstrong was very aware of and rightfully so.
Regarding additions, an old face in David Perron comes back, on a two-year $7.5M contract with the Note. The Blues also signed goalie Jake the Snake Allen to a four-year extension worth $17.4M. Also, the long and anticipated arrival of Vladimir Sobotka has finally arrived in which he will play for the Note this upcoming season for $2.7M. It’s fair to say Blues fans lit their hair on fire when free agency began, myself included. My hope was the Blues could sign someone like Loui Eriksson, but he went to Vancouver. It needs to be made clear on paper the Blues are not as good as they were when they went on their Western Conference run. But I reserve judgment on the team until the season starts simply because it’s hard to tell which players will make a step up in their play and who will shock the world. I’ll give you some prediction on what I could see potentially happening.
Most Improved Player for 2016-2017:
Jaden Schwartz – He missed a lot of games last year and was not at his best in the playoffs health wise. I can see Jaden having a 30 goal year with 20 assists with 50 points.
Most Surprising Player for 2016-2017:
Dimitri Jaskin – Dimitri Jaskin did not get a great deal of playing time thanks to Backes and Brouwer and rightfully so for obvious reasons. However now he needs to step up and take this chance, and I believe in him, and I think he will play very well and has a chance to be a scoring threat if allowed to play. I will project him for a 22 goal season with ten assists and 32 points with a high ceiling.
Player with the most to prove for 2016-2017:
Jake Allen – It’s the Jake the Snake show folks. But seriously, Jake now has the job, and he had a lot to prove regarding being a top goaltender in this league. Jake Allen’s numbers last year had him with a 26-15 record as well as a .920 save percentage and 2.35 GAA. Compared to Brian the Moose Elliot, who had a 23-8 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA. Allen is within reach but must show that he is worth this type of investment, and Allen can help the Notes transition game as well something, Elliott really could not do.
Player that will make the biggest jump in play next year:
Vladimir Tarasenko – The superstar of the Blues and NHL 17 Cover Player will need to take his 40 goal, 34 assists and 74 point season to the next level( no pressure there). The concern I have is that he needs help, and I have very little confidence in anybody on the current roster giving him the help he needs. He also did have a rough WCF, although it will make him better. The Blues don’t have a #1 center; Paul Stastny was supposed to be the guy, but he has yet to prove that. I believe Tarasenko will do even more, he’ll still need help from somewhere.
All in all, the Blues are now a speed team. They’re not as physical as they used to be. And that alone will create a great deal of uncertainty, which I’m alright with, for now.
The Blues have got a bright future, but this season, it’s hard to see the Blues go as far as they did with the losses.