Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – St. Louis Blues
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th 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 – There was a big shuffling of the deck in St. Louis this offseason and it was almost completely for the better. The organization shed a lot of their depth and then they filled it right back up again thanks to free agency, upgrading many slots. O’Reilly and Bozak is a huge upgrade at center to Berglund and Brodziak. Along with Brayden Schenn, the Blues now have three centermen who can drive some offense. Replacing Sobotka and the untested Thompson for Perron and hometown boy Maroon injects another 20 goals into the lineup.
Between the pipes a pretty big statement was made: “Jake Allen, no matter how terrible you get, you’re gonna be our guy…but hopefully you’re not terrible.” Letting Hutton go and replacing him with a career backup who has no aspirations for taking the top job (Johnson) will eliminate goaltending controversies and thus hopefully allow Allen to focus on regaining his mojo. It’s a risk, but with more firepower in front of him to help hide some of the warts, it could pay off.
Ready for full-time – Jordan Schmaltz has to clear waivers in order to be sent down and he probably won’t get through. His time in the AHL is over, but the problem is that the Blues already have seven NHL defensemen. He’s good enough to slot in there at No.6 and bump Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo down, but not yet established enough to grab himself quality ice time beyond that. If he gets some early bounces and is used on the power play, he could work his way into a pretty solid fantasy asset.
Ivan Barbashev has done a fine yo-yo impression these past two seasons as he bounces from the AHL to the NHL and back. That ends now because he has to clear waivers to be sent down. With the sudden depth on this Blues team, Barbashev will adjust his yo-yo act so that it bounces him from press box to fourth line and back again. At one time he showed promise as a potential fantasy asset, but he has probably Dmitrij Jaskin’ed himself off of our radars. At least for now.
Zach Sanford was claimed off of waivers from the Caps in early 2017, but an injury wiped out most of 2017-18 for him. That was a shame because he made a good impression with the Blues and probably had a roster spot ready for him. Now that spot is probably gone for the 23-year-old as the team has 15 proven NHLers already signed plus a couple of other prospects champing at the bit.
Speaking of prospects champing at the bit, Robert Thomas is coming off a solid OHL season that saw him post 75 points in 49 games to go with his six points in seven games for Team Canada at the WJC. On a handful of NHL teams he would probably get onto the roster and possibly have a productive season. On this team, however, the best he could hope for is a sniff of NHL life in the form of a handful of games early on. It’s a shame because he has nothing left to prove in the OHL, but that’s where he’ll be heading.
Sammy Blais was one of my favorite prospect dark horses. But then the Blues signed Perron and he slipped down my list. And then the Blues signed Maroon and Blais slipped right off that list, off the page, off my desk and onto the floor. In all seriousness though, I like the diminutive Blais because of how quickly he has made his mark in the AHL and I suspect he will be one of that league’s scoring leaders in the year ahead.
St. Louis Blues prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Blues finished 24th in league scoring last season, but with the additions of Perron, Maroon, O’Reilly, Bozak and the return of Robby Fabbri, they subtracted 20 or 30 goals but probably added a good 50 or more. Offense should get back into the top half, goaltending is a weakness but their defensemen are solid led by Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko. Pietrangelo has newborn triplets in his house, however, so be careful of a slight downturn in production for one season. The prospect pipeline is fairly deep, with some real promising fantasy players on the way although most are several years off.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was B+)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: Surprises, Disappointments, & Everything In-Between (Dec. 4)
- Ramblings: Marner returns; updates on Strome, Spurgeon, and Landeskog; Fiala - December 5
- Fantasy Take: John Hynes fired as coach of Devils
- Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: J.T. Miller, Anze Kopitar, & Brady Tkachuk
- Injury Ward: Dahlin, Backstrom, Landeskog, Fleury, Marner & Hughes
- Capped: Teams with free-agent uncertainty
- Eastern Edge: Storylines from around the East
- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)