3 Blues Hot Takes for the 2022-23 Season

The Blues are entering what should prove to be a pivotal season for this franchise. If they come out the gates strong and are contending, then they will go all-in at the trade deadline. Alternatively, if they start off slow and contending doesn’t seem like a realistic option, we may see general manager Doug Armstrong part ways with some familiar pieces near the trade deadline. Here are three piping-hot, but realistic, takes on the Blues for the upcoming season.

Jordan Kyrou Scores 40 Goals

The last time we saw a Blues’ player rack up 40-plus goals was when Vladimir Tarasenko did it in 2015-16. Before that it was Brad Boyes in 2007-08. The time has come for a new Blue to eclipse the elusive 40-goal mark. In 2021-22, Jordan Kyrou broke out to the tune of 27 goals in 74 games played. If you extrapolate those numbers to reflect a full 82-game season, it gets him right around 30 goals. What we saw from Kyrou last year was really a tale of two seasons.

Pre-All-Star Game

He had 17 goals in 40 games. This is a 0.425 goals-per-game pace. If you stretch that pace out over an 82-game season, you get 34.85 goals.

Post-All-Star Game

He had 10 goals in 42 games, good for a 0.333 goals-per-game pace. Stretch that number out over the full 82-games and you get 27.33 goals.

Jordan Kyrou St. Louis Blues
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kyrou started the season on fire and seemed to have another gear that opposing defenses couldn’t match. So much so that he earned his first trip to the NHL All-Star game and even won the Fastest Skater competition. Then something happened; it seemed like Kyrou would start taking shifts off, was a bit careless with the puck, and was barely a defensive presence. Because of these factors, his time on ice (TOI) took a dip.

Related: Predicting the Blues’ Top-6 Forwards for 2022-23

If Kyrou can improve upon his work ethic and his play away from the puck, it’s no doubt that his numbers while carrying the puck should spike. With significant ice-time sure to come his way as he climbs the Blues’ ladder to the top lines and top power-play unit, he should be able to use his elite speed and dynamic scoring ability to score at least 40 goals, possibly more.

Jordan Binnington Will Rebound, but Not to Elite Form

Last season was clearly not the best that Jordan Binnington has to offer. In his 37 regular-season starts, he had a record 18-14-4 and career lows in both save percentage (SV%) at .901 and goals-against average (GAA) of 3.13. Among all qualified goaltenders, Binnington ranked 37th in SV% and 39th in GAA. His dip in production, along with a positive COVID-19 test, led to him ceding time to then-backup Ville Husso.

In his two previous seasons, Binnington proved to be one of the more reliable netminders in the league. In 2020-21, he had a SV% of .910 and GAA of 2.65. In the season before that, he recorded a .912 SV% and a 2.56 GAA. While those numbers themselves are not elite, they show that Binnington has been a solid mid/upper-tier goalie. Much better than what he had shown in the 2021-22 regular season.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In the 2022 postseason, before he was injured and deemed unfit to return to play, Binnington had seemed to rediscover the magic that sparked the Blues’ franchise in 2018-19 and led them to winning the Cup. In the six postseason games (including the time he played in game three vs. the Colorado Avalanche before being injured), he had a SV% of .949 and a mere GAA of 1.72. In total, he stopped 167 of 176 shots on net and went 4-1.

Is it possible for Binnington to replicate his 2022 postseason success into the 2022-23 regular season? I’m not sure that will happen. But I believe he’s capable of playing at a much higher level than he did during last year’s regular season. With the league average SV% last season being .907, I expect to see Binnington to creep around the .910 SV% mark once again.

The Blues Will Miss the Playoffs

We’re talking about hot takes, right? Well, here you go! It is entirely possible that the Blues will miss the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On paper, this appears to have taken a step back this offseason, mostly due to the major subtractions of David Perron and Ville Husso.

Perron’s Shoes Will Need to be Filled

In Perron, the Blues lost arguably their greatest power-play weapon from 2021-22 (11 goals, 15 assists), part of a solid season in which he posted 57 points (27 goals, 30 assists) in 67 games. The Blues are going to have to lean heavily on veteran forwards Brayden Schenn, Brandon Saad, and Pavel Buchnevich to play larger roles in this offense and up their power-play production in Perron’s absence.

Losing Husso Might be too Much to Overcome

The hole left by trading Husso may prove to be the tougher one to fill. If Husso didn’t step-up while Binnington was trying to find his game again, the Blues for sure would not have made it to the playoffs last season. In his 40 games played (38 starts), he went 28-7-6 with a GAA of 2.56 (13th in NHL among qualified starters) and a SV% of .919 (tied-sixth in NHL among qualified starters). The Blues flipped him to the Detroit Red Wings during the draft and made the highly-questioned decision of signing veteran Thomas Greiss to a one-year deal to backup Binnington. If Binnington stumbles once again, the Blues may be facing a pitfall if Greiss has to be leaned upon for more than a handful of starts. In his last two seasons as the backup in Detroit, he’s 18-30-9 in 65 games (57 starts) with a GAA of 3.14 and SV% of .901.

Ville Husso St. Louis Blues
Ville Husso former St. Louis Blue (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If head coach Craig Berube is forced to lean heavily on Greiss, unless he’s somehow able to regain his form from four seasons ago (his last as a starter), the Blues are going to have a very tough time winning games in an extremely tough Central Division.

Related: Blues’ Decision to Sign Thomas Greiss Makes No Sense

In all actuality, I do think this iteration of the Blues is going to be playoff bound if they get solid play from Jordan Binnington. But of all three of these hot takes, this one is by far the hottest. In Doug Armstrong’s 12-year tenure as the Blues’ general manager (2010 to present), the Blues have missed the playoffs only two times (2011 and 2018). With their track record of success, it’s hard to bet against the Blues missing the postseason. But it may only take inconsistent play in net to send them sliding down the standings.

The Blues’ season has the potential to have a wide range of outcomes, from possibly being Cup contenders to missing the playoffs altogether. Both are entirely possible and they’re going to be leaning hard on their core players if they want to make a run. Will they get strong seasons from Kyrou and Binnington? One or both of them having a career year will play a huge part in the Blues’ success in 2022-23.