Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – St. Louis Blues
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint, and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – First and foremost the Blues have an influx of minutes to distribute amongst their forwards. Budding star Robby Fabbri will get a nice chunk of those, while a prospect or two should also get some of that ice time. And don’t forget that Vladimir Sobotka is back. But to me the big thing is that Fabbri will gobble up some more much-deserved ice time.
Coming in second place is between the pipes. Replacing Brian Elliott with Carter Hutton is a huge downgrade – and yet the team just got so much better for it. And that holds from a fantasy standpoint as well. Because, instead of drafting Elliott in the 12th round and Jake Allen in the 14th round because they’re sharing the net again – you’ll be drafting Allen by the third round, depending on when goalies go.
Ready for full-time – Ty Rattie has had more than enough time to ‘marinate’ as a prospect. He’s had a handful of cups of coffee with the big club and has done well to round out his defensive game at the AHL level. Admittedly, the latter has cost him some of his offense, but he’s still a proven 20- to 30-goal scorer at the level, and he did score four times in his 13 games with the Blues last season. With decent ice time and good linemates he could make a 40-point impact right away. Just don’t bet on that. (Read more on Rattie here)
Jordan Schmaltz is currently ninth on the Blues’ depth chart for defense. So a much-rumored Kevin Shattenkirk trade would not only help Colton Parayko (by giving him more PP time), but it would also move Schmaltz another rung up the latter. The former college star and first-round draft pick could use at least a half-season in the AHL, so a midseason injury call-up would be best-case. (Read more on Schmaltz here)
Ville Husso is not NHL-ready, which is why the Blues bothered to bring in Hutton. But Jake Allen is a Band-Aid Boy so if he’s ever injured for the long term, Hutton may give way to a prospect. If it happens early in the season, then St. Louis will look to Jordan Binnington. If it’s in the second half, then they will call upon Husso who is the better of the two goalies and boasts much higher upside. (Read more on Husso here and Binnington here)
Fantasy Outlook – The Blues may have been 15th in NHL scoring last season, but they do boast game-breaker Vladimir Tarasenko, a healthy Jaden Schwartz, and up-and-comer Fabbri. They also boast the league’s second most interesting group of defensemen (behind Philly, from a fantasy standpoint) with so many of them with 50-plus points upside. And the goaltending is obviously top-notch because Ken Hitchcock is still the coach. Hell, I could be the goalie and put up fantasy-worthy numbers! All this team is missing are some fantasy-relevant forwards in the system – and we need to actually ‘see’ Fabbri and Schwartz exceed 60 points rather than merely hint at it.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was B+)