The St. Louis Blues are in the midst of a legitimate retool to try and fix the broken parts of the team that we saw during the 2020-21 season. I’d argue that the 2021-22 top-six is far better than the 2020-21 top-six, as they made some serious additions.
The Blues will see major changes to the top-six group for this season, as they have added players to replace the outgoing top-six wingers.
LW David Perron/C Ryan O’Reilly/RW Pavel Buchnevich
For the first time in their tenures as Blues’ linemates, it appears that O’Reilly and Perron will be able to consistently play with a high-level winger.
The Blues traded Sammy Blais and a 2022 second-round pick to the New York Rangers to acquire Buchnevich. After that, they signed him to a four-year deal with a cap hit of $5.8 million.
We all know how well Perron and O’Reilly have played together, both of them coming off of terrific point-scoring seasons.
Perron has scored 118 points in 127 games over the last two seasons, while O’Reilly has scored 115 in 127. Buchnevich adds an entirely new element to this line – it’s something that Blues fans should be excited to see.
Buchnevich is a terrific two-way forward – he has an overall game that will fit well with these two and he can score goals too. He has scored 57 goals over the last three seasons, two of those being shortened seasons. He’s still only 26 years old with room to improve and get better as he has been.
I actually think that hockey fans don’t realize just how complete Buchnevich’s game is – it’s actually quite something when you look at the analytics.
I think we could see some special play in all three zones with these three playing together. All of them are complete players with lots of skill. This should be a fun line to watch, no doubt about it.
LW Brandon Saad/C Brayden Schenn/RW Jordan Kyrou
This is a line that could be really good, as we saw a new linemate for Schenn and Kyrou as well. Schenn has been playing with Jaden Schwartz for a lot of his Blues’ career, but with Schwartz headed to the Seattle Kraken, he moves on without him.
Saad can bring a lot of what Schwartz brought, and more as he has been more consistent over his NHL career. I think Saad and Schenn can help Kyrou continue to grow his game, having two veteran two-way forwards with him should help.
Saad has scored 20 or more goals in five of his ten NHL seasons, and in a couple of the years where he scored less, it was due to a shortened season.
On the flip-side, I think Saad and Kyrou can help to rejuvenate Schenn, who struggled last season. I expect Kyrou to build on a breakout season from 2020-21, where he scored 35 points in 55 games.
Kyrou is a pure playmaker – if this line stays healthy and together, Saad and Schenn should both score 20 or more goals. But don’t count out Kyrou’s scoring ability, as he had 14 goals in 55 games last season, which is a 20-goal pace.
I think the top two lines as they stand right now look great coming into the 2021-22 season. General manager Doug Armstrong did an excellent job in replacing some key forwards they lost.
The way that this all changes is the Vladimir Tarasenko situation – if he stays put for this season, I expect somebody to be bumped down to the third line. I have no clue who gets bumped down – I could see it being Kyrou – but the additions of both Saad and Buchnevich tells me that Tarasenko should be traded soon.
Either way, if you thought the Blues were going to “rebuild,” that’s not happening. The front office is retooling this roster and still has time to get more done.