The St. Louis Blues will not be making the postseason and while this disappointment may have fans tuning into other sports clubs around the city, there are a number of things to keep an eye on when it comes to the remainder of the regular season. Here’s a look at three things for Blues fans to pay attention to that could play a big role once the offseason rolls around.
Final Placement in Standings
The Blues currently sit among the bottom 10 teams of the NHL. While this position in the standings is never something a fanbase wants to see, this does bode well for a franchise hoping for a chance at the first-overall pick. The 2023 Draft class is set to be among one of the deepest pools of talent to draft over the past few seasons. This year, the Blues are in a rare situation that allows them the chance for the draft lottery to work in their favor and help them climb their way up the list for a chance at one of the premier draft positions. While the organization currently has a five percent chance of getting the first-overall pick, there is still an unlikely situation where this can occur.
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With an update to the draft lottery rules beginning in 2022, a team can only jump as many as 10 spots in the draft. With that being said, only the top 11 teams are eligible for the first-overall pick. If a team in the 12-16 range wins the first drawing, the first pick will remain with the worst team. Should the Blues have any chance at the first-overall selection, they will need to finish the year no higher than 22nd in the final league standings.
Veteran Defensemen Performances
It’s no secret that the current defensive core could see at least one major player dealt before the start of next season. Before the trade deadline, there were rumors surrounding the team’s defensemen with longtime Blues veteran, Colton Parayko, as one of the most highly suspected players to be dealt. With all of their veteran talent retained after the trade deadline, rumors are bound to swirl once more when the trade freeze is lifted.
The Blues currently have five defensemen on their roster with no-trade clauses. Only Marco Scandella’s contract offers a modified no-trade clause, with trade protection from seven teams via a player-submitted list. With seven defensemen currently on the NHL roster and top prospect Scott Perunovich set to make the team in 2023-24, a trade will need to take place to make room for him in the nightly lineup.
Healthy Competition From Forwards
With the Blues’ retool underway, any last-minute impressions the forwards can offer head coach Craig Berube is coming to a close. Players like Jakub Vrána, Kasperi Kapanen, and Jake Neighbours have all performed well down the final stretch of the season and all have something to prove before the final buzzer sounds.
In the case of the two newest members of the Blues, Vrána and Kapanen, they have had limited time to become acclimated to the team, the city, and the culture inside and outside of the locker room. This has not stopped them from becoming two of the most impactful players on the roster since joining the club after the trade deadline. The Blues were able to acquire them for little to nothing after claiming Kapanen off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins and sending a seventh-round draft choice in 2025 and a forward prospect, Dylan McLaughlin, for Vrána. Both moves have paid dividends for the team this season and will need to continue to work should the two wish to remain in St. Louis and the Blues’ long-term retooling plans.
As for Neighbours, there is no question whether he is or is not in the long-term plans for the franchise. Drafted 26th overall by the Blues in 2020, he has been a mainstay in the NHL lineup for the majority of the season. Aside from a brief period of time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Springfield Thunderbirds, he has remained a consistent fixture in the lineup all season long. While the offensive production has not been there for him yet, fans will see that it is only a matter of time before he is lighting the lamp a bit more consistently.
While the season itself may be a bit of a wash for Blues fans, there is plenty to get excited about with the upcoming number of draft choices, prospects, and current players all set to collide and bring on a healthy amount of competition to make this Blues squad playoff, and even Stanley Cup contenders, once more.