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Not Flashy, But Effective: Why the St. Louis Blues Are a Valuable Futures Bet

Vladimir Tarasenko of the St Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues are now second in the 2019 Stanley Cup odds after winning a single game in the playoffs. Overreaction or a sign of things to come? Photo by Michael Miller (Wiki Commons) [CC License].
  • The St. Louis Blues have added a ton of talent and depth in the offseason
  • Their odds to win the 2019 Stanley Cup continue getting shorter
  • Are they a good bet at their reduced odds?

If there’s one thing that can be taken away from the 2018 Stanley Cup finals, its that the NHL is a league where teams’ fortunes can change quickly. No, you weren’t dreaming, the Stanley Cup was awarded to the former choke champions of the NHL, the Washington Capitals. Yes, they beat the first year expansion franchise that was built on the cast-offs of the 30 other teams, the Vegas Golden Knights.

We wouldn’t bet on either of these teams being the class of the league again; there’s too much uncertainty surrounding their rosters in their current incarnation, and it’s our strong sense that they both captured lightning in a bottle. But will an unexpected team, who few see as a strong early-season contender, make the finals over more celebrated Stanley Cup favorites? We’d say so.

So, who would we bet on to be in the cup finals in mid-July? A central division team that missed the playoffs in the 82nd game of the season last year, and who few seem to be taking very seriously: the St. Louis Blues.

The St. Louis Blues’ Top-Notch Offseason

Before we begin, let’s take a look at the forward lineup the St. Louis Blues finished last season with. Keep in mind this was on April 7th, so just a little over three months ago.

Jaden Schwartz Brayden Schenn Vladimir Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund Kyle Brodziak Alexander Steen
Dmitrij Jaskin Vladimir Sobotka Tage Thompson
Nikita Soshnikov Ivan Barabashev Chris Thorburn

Doug Armstrong has improved the Blues’ lot greatly since then. First and foremost, Armstrong went out and bolstered his club’s center ice position in the off-season, reinforcing the most important position in the sport.

He acquired two-way stud and first line center in Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres, only giving up draft picks and two perennial under-performers in Vladimir Sobotka and Patrick Berglund. Not only will the Blues penalty kill see a major boon, but Ryan O’Reilly is good for an easy 25 goals and at least 60+ points.

First and foremost, Armstrong went out and bolstered his club’s center ice position in the off-season, reinforcing the most important  position in the sport

Doug Armstong also inked Toronto Maple Leafs center and powerplay specialist Tyler Bozak, who’s slotted to play on the third line behind O’Reilly and breakout forward Brayden Schenn. Bozak has produced at a second line clip his entire career, and his addition provides St. Louis with the ability to roll three lines that are legitimate scoring threats.

The Blues remarkable offseason didn’t stop there, as they also signed former 27-goal scorer and St. Louis native Patrick Maroon to a one year contract, as well as reacquiring the former Blues draft pick David Perron.

Maroon provides grit and toughness with a pronounced scoring touch, fulfilling a much-needed position on the team that the Blues have lacked since Troy Brower departed in 2016. David Perron looks to add additional scoring punch after he scored 66 points for Vegas last season, averaging 0.94 PPG. Both players will be essential, come springtime in 2019.

22-year-old Robbi Fabbri is slated to reclaim his spot in the Blues’ first line after missing the entire 2017-18 season with a knee injury

Additionally, the highly touted 22-year-old Robbi Fabbri is slated to reclaim his spot on the Blues’ first line after missing the entire year with a knee injury. It remains to be seen, but many are also predicting big things for the rookie phenom Jordan Kyrou. If Kyrou can play up the lineup, St. Louis’ group of fowards becomes even more impressive.

The St. Louis Blues Aren’t Star-Studded, But Their Depth Is Unparalleled

Yes, a cursory look at the Blue’s roster might not excite everyone, as with the exception of sniper Vladimir Tarasenko there isn’t a ton of flashy star power. There aren’t a lot of candidates to make the cover of NHL 2019, but this doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.  If we learned anything from 2018’s postseason, it’s that depth is the essential ingredient to successful teams, not just star power.

After acquiring four top 6 forwards either by free agency or trade, and an additional scoring forward back from a year on the shelf, the St. Louis Blues now boast some of the most impressive depth in the entire league.

 

It isn’t like the Blues are short in other areas, either. Their defense depth is solid, with two bonafide stars in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayako supplemented by an impressive supporting cast of Joel Edmonson, Vince Dunn, Carl Gunnarsson, and Jay Bouwmeester.

By nearly every measure, the St. Blues are a team with no holes in their lineup. They’re going to score a ton of goals, and they have an impressive defense group to boot.

The One Question Mark: Goaltending

If there’s one area that the St. Louis Blues still have questions about, it’s their goaltending. They lost their 1b goaltender in Carter Hutton to the Sabres in the offseason, and they’re going to run with Jake Allen as their de facto number one goaltender heading into the 2019 season.

No one has ever questioned Allen’s talent – he has it in spades, and is doubtless one of the most athletic and skilled goaltenders in the league. However, Allen’s mental fortitude under pressure has come under fire over the years, most famously culminating in the now infamous incident where was sent home, early into 2017.

However, things look to be different this season. With the best goalie in the history of the sport, Martin Brodeur, heading up St. Louis’ goaltending program, Allen is in good hands. We’d wager that Brodeur-Armstrong know what they’re doing, and if they’ve decided that the 27-year-old Allen is ready to handle a full-time workload, we’re inclined to trust them.

Plus, despite Allen’s noted mental struggles throughout the years, he’s also shown an ability to bounce back in impressive fashion. The same season that he was sent home (2016-2017), he posted a mighty .935 save percentage through 11 games in the playoffs.

The Blues Odds Are Shortening

As you probably noted in our odds tracker above, the St. Louis Blues started the offseason at an average of +4000 odds, which have shortened all the way down to an average +2300. This is a drastic change, but we still think that the Blues are an excellent bet at these odds.

+2300 translates into a 4.17% probability (including the juice) and we think the Blues have a much greater chance of winning the cup this season than that.

Will the Blues capture the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history this season? Time will tell, but they’re definitely worth tossing a few bucks on before their odds get even shorter.

If you want to see how each team’s odds have ebbed and flowed over the course of the offseason, check out our 2019 NHL odds tracker. 

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