The St. Louis Blues produced well offensively last season with nine 20-goal scorers. Naturally, there will be regression, which can happen in any season.
There are some quality Blues candidates for offensive regression in 2022-23, but I’ve been wrong before. But there are reasons why I’ve chosen these three, and each one has a unique situation.
Ivan Barbashev’s offensive numbers seemed to have peaked in the 2021-22 season. He had never scored over 26 points in five seasons before tallying 60 last season. His ice time also skyrocketed, which was just one reason why his numbers went up.
A lot of Barbashev’s production came from playing with Vladimir Tarasenko and Pavel Buchnevich. The Blues’ Russian line made some early season magic, but Barbashev was eventually moved to a line with Robert Thomas. He then spent the rest of the season with Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou, and they also had a solid connection.
One of his most impressive stats from last season was Barbashev’s 21 goals at even strength, which ranked third on the team behind Tarasenko and Kyrou. The only reason I expect him to regress is because of his last five seasons. He could still score 20-plus goals and over 45 points, but the numbers he had last season likely won’t happen again. The counterargument, in this case, is that 2022-23 is a contract year for him. He could become a pending free agent who puts up big numbers to get a huge payday, similar to what Nazem Kadri did with the Colorado Avalanche last season.
The 2021-22 season was a bizarre one for Schenn, who suffered from injuries. He played in just 62 games but scored a quiet 24 goals and 34 assists. He’s been up-and-down since signing an eight-year extension during the 2019-20 season, and last season may have been the weirdest one yet.
He had a much better season in 2021-22 than he did in 2020-21, but it didn’t seem that way. From early March to the end of the season, Schenn had 26 points in 22 games, which gave his stats a boost. He was a solid fit with Kyrou and Barbashev, but that line may not be together in 2022-23.
The biggest reasons I expect Schenn to regress are his injury history and the unknown lines heading into the season. I could see him out there with Barbashev and Klim Kostin, but things will change before October.
This is likely to be a divisive choice, but Tarasenko had an enormous 2021-22 season. I don’t expect him to fall off of a cliff by any means, but nor do I think he will put up another 82-point season. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I will be.
In 2021-22, Tarasenko re-established himself as one of the best offensive players in the NHL, with 34 goals and 48 assists. His resurgence was in large part due to his ability to stay healthy and establish elite chemistry with linemates like Thomas and Buchnevich. The Blues’ revamped offensive style played a factor too. They became a far better offensive team than they were under head coach Craig Berube.
Tarasenko is also entering the final season of his contract and could be motivated to hit the open market with a bang. I think he will have a good season, if healthy, but with some regression. A season of 25 to 30 goals and 65 to 70 points would be a slight regression but still a good season. I just don’t see him hitting 82 points in a transitional 2022-23 season for the Blues.
Other potential candidates are Justin Faulk and Torey Krug, with the likely emergence of Scott Perunovich. But the team should remain in strong contention, regardless. I don’t see any of these three players having poor seasons, but regression from their high level from 2021-22 is likely.