The St. Louis Blues head into the 2022-23 season with high expectations. Last season, they got out of the first round for the first time since 2019 when they won the Stanley Cup. With quality veterans and rising stars, they should be amongst the league’s best this season.
In my bold predictions article for 2021-22, I went two for three. The Blues had two 30-goal scorers and they won a playoff round. As for my incorrect prediction, it was a rough season for Jordan Binnington, but he should bounce back in 2022-23. Let’s see what this season’s bold predictions for the Blues are.
1. Kyrou and Thomas Lead the Way
For the 2021-22 Blues, it was Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich leading the way with 30-plus goals. This season, I believe that it will be the recently extended franchise cornerstones, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. They both finished second and fourth last season on the Blues in points. They will be first and second this season, and there are many reasons to believe this will happen.
Both players will be getting the maximum opportunity when it comes to ice time. After being stuck on the third line at times last season, that won’t be an issue for Kyrou any longer. With David Perron leaving in free agency, he will be able to shift into his role with more ice time and key power play minutes. As such, I believe that he will score over 40 goals this season and have well over 75 points. If he stays healthy and gets more ice time, the sky is the limit for him.
As for Thomas, he will likely be starting the season alongside Buchnevich and Tarasenko. This line produced a lot of goals for the Blues last season and it will remain that way heading into the 2022-23 season. He is one of the game’s truly elite passers, so he has the potential to tally 75 or more assists in a season. With two goal scorers like Buchnevich and Tarasenko on his line, I don’t see why he can’t get 70 or more assists and above 80 points. The only thing that could hold these two back is injury, which has popped up for both of them early into their careers.
2. Krug Reaches Career High in Points
The first two seasons for Torey Krug in St. Louis have been solid, but not up to his standard with the Boston Bruins. He has struggled to stay healthy, missing 18 games last season. Injuries have been a problem throughout his career, but it hasn’t taken away much from his production. I believe that he will stay healthy enough to put up his most productive season to date. He plays alongside the Blues’ most consistent defenseman, Justin Faulk, and he also quarterbacks the top power-play unit. Those two factors alone should lead to a productive season with above 60 points, which would be a career-high.
Another motivating factor could be having his name in trade rumors over the offseason. The Blues weren’t likely to trade Krug this summer regardless, but his name was out there in many circles around the league. He will have ample opportunity to score a lot of points this season, especially with the elite power-play unit that he runs. They have goal scorers like Tarasenko, Buchnevich, Kyrou, and others for him to dish the puck to, so he should be plenty motivated and ready to prove that he is still one of the best offensive defensemen in the league.
3. Blues Reach Western Conference Finals
The Blues reached the second round last season after dominating the Minnesota Wild in four of six games in the first round. They ran into the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche and put up a fight, but lost in six games. I believe they can go further this season if things go their way. I don’t know if they can take down Avalanche, but it’ll likely be a requirement if they get to the Western Conference Final. The only way they don’t play them is if either one ends up as a wild card team.
I view the Blues as the clear-cut second-best team in the conference behind the Avalanche. They also would be the favorites in almost any possible playoff series outside of the Avalanche. They have all the tools and depth to make a deep run, but one thing has to be consistently terrific, goaltending. Jordan Binnington will be the X-factor in any possible scenario where the Blues make a deep run. He has to play as he did during the 2022 Playoffs, where he posted a record of 4-1-0 and a save percentage (SV%) of .949, prior to his injury. If he is terrific, the Blues can legitimately win a Cup with this roster despite some defensive flaws.
The 2022-23 Blues will have a potent offense, paired with unknowns in their defensive unit and goaltending tandem. I have zero doubt that they will be a good team this season and finish with over 100 points. But the regular season matters much less when years go by after winning a Cup, as the pressure just continues to ramp up each season to win another. The Blues need to be as bold as these predictions are, and more in 2022-23 to have a chance to win their second Cup in franchise history.
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Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.