The 2023-24 fantasy hockey season is right around the corner. With that being said, it is time to look at 10 fantasy options from the St. Louis Blues, and a look at five sleeper options that could prove beneficial by the end of the season.
Jordan Kyrou has the potential to be the Blues’ highest-scoring forward for the coming season. The 24-year-old finished the 2022-23 season with 73 points (37 goals, 36 assists) in 79 games with back-to-back seasons scoring over 70 points. With long-time sniper Vladimir Tarasenko no longer with the Blues, Kyrou will be looked at as one of the go-to shooters on the team. The real question is where both his ceiling and floor are. After scoring 27 goals and 75 points two seasons ago, while nearly producing the same point total one season later, it seems 70 points and 25 goals should be the expectation for Kyrou over the 2023-24 season. As a bonus, if the Blues can get back to their winning ways, there’s potential that the youngster could score 40-plus goals.
The 28-year-old Russian forward has been an absolute force to be reckoned with since joining the Blues just two years ago. Through two seasons and 136 regular season games, Pavel Buchnevich has scored 56 goals and 143 total points. After scoring 30 goals and 76 points through 73 games during his first campaign as a member of the Blues, he has continued to provide elite offensive production scoring at a 1.06 point per game rate, an 87-point pace over a full 82-game season.
Though Buchnevich will not get you many peripheral stats, he remains a top 15-20 right wing option with his high-scoring potential. One of the biggest draws is his inability to stay healthy and seemingly inability to play a full season having only ever played more than 70 games twice in his career. If he can find a way to play in more games, he could find his way into the top 10 right wingers by the end of the season.
One of the most well-rounded Blues players, Brayden Schenn will check off a lot of boxes for fantasy owners. Whether you are looking for goals, assists, hits, blocks, and everything in between, he will have your back. After playing a full 82 games during the 2022-23 season, he remains a player who should play at least 70 games while providing 16-20 goals and 55-60 points, while averaging 1.5 hits and 0.4 blocked shots per game based on recent history. The 32-year-old forward could remain an option for head coach Craig Berube to rotate between the wing and center position, allowing for Schenn to add faceoff wins for owners.
The club’s first-line center, Robert Thomas has been a tremendous anchor for the club and is truly coming into his own as a top-line player. However, as productive as he has been over the past two seasons scoring 142 points (38 goals, 104 assists) in 145 regular season games, he remains someone who is likely a better real-life player than a fantasy hockey option.
Thomas will certainly rack up points and faceoff wins for owners that choose to draft him, but offers very little outside of those two areas. He has never been a player to get physical as evidenced by his 28 recorded hits over the past two seasons, nor is he a likely option to block a shot having only blocked 54 in that same period.
One of the biggest wild cards among the Blues forwards coming into the 2023-24 season is Kevin Hayes. After being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers during the offseason, he is still an unproven commodity with the Blues. The veteran forward will likely start the season as the team’s third-line center and earn time on the second power play unit. The 6-foot-5, 31-year-old played his first full season in 2022-23 collecting 18 goals and 54 points over 81 games on a struggling Flyers squad. Like Thomas, Hayes should be considered a player who will not offer much beyond standard goals, assists, and faceoff wins, remaining an option only for points leagues or deeper category leagues.
Justin Faulk could once again lead the club’s defensemen in total points for the third season in a row. After finishing 19th in total points among all defensemen in the NHL with 11 goals and 50 points through 82 games, the 31-year-old is poised to be one of the brightest spots on the blue line. Averaging back-to-back 50-point seasons, he should be a lock to produce among the top 25 defenders in the league during the 2023-24 season.
As a word of caution, with uncertainty regarding the status of fellow defenseman Torey Krug, the team could have three offensive defensemen looking to share a similar role. If a trade or resolution is not made before the start of the season, points could become a little more difficult to come by for Faulk. Keep an eye on nightly deployment and injury status’ as there is bound to be at least one that could help his stock throughout the season.
Turning 32 years old at the start of the 2023-24 season, forward Brandon Saad has been the definition of consistent not only for the Blues but throughout his career. Averaging 21.5 goals and 43 per season over his two seasons in St. Louis, the veteran should make his way to each of these points by the end of the season without a problem. However, Saad is not a player that most fans should consider drafting as he only offers value for goals and assists with few peripheral stats on a nightly basis. Only in the deepest of leagues or daily fantasy should he be considered an option to roster.
Krug is another wild card here. There’s no telling if he will be on the team to start the season after he blocked a trade to the Flyers earlier in the offseason. During the 2022-23 season, he finished 57th in total points among all defensemen in the NHL. While he has never played more than 65 regular season games for the Blues, his 0.51 point per game pace puts him at a 41-42 point projection over a full 82-game season, skyrocketing him into the top 30. It is never easy to project the number of games a player could miss in a single season. However, considering 65 games as a threshold and the rest as a bonus should be a fair assessment.
It will be important to note also that 2023-24 could see a full season out of fellow defenseman Scott Perunovich. With the two playing a similar style, Krug could see a reduction in ice time at both even strength and the power play. Plan accordingly.
One of the newest members of the Blues organization, forward Jakub Vrana could be an underrated fantasy asset for the 2023-24 season. After scoring one goal and two points for the Detroit Red Wings, he entered into the Player Assistance Program on Oct. 19 until he was reinstated by the NHL on Dec. 16. After being traded to St. Louis in exchange for forward Dylan McLaughlin and a seventh-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft, he found new life scoring 14 points (10 goals, four assists) in 20 games. Should he stay at the same scoring pace through the 2023-24 season, fans could see him produce 41 goals and 57 points.
One of the toughest factors for Vrana will come from deployment. He saw just over a three-minute bump in time on ice from his days in Detroit to his deployment in St. Louis. However, with multiple forwards contending for playing time, he will need to continue earning his opportunities on a nightly basis.
A look at this season’s top fantasy players for the Blues would not be complete without examining the starting goaltender. The question becomes though, how long will Jordan Binnington remain the team’s number one netminder? After a putrid season from the team as a whole, he finished with a career-low 3.31 goals-against average (GAA) and .894 save percentage (SV%) through 61 regular season games.
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While many expect a rebound from him, the goaltender has statically declined every season he has been in the league. There is no doubting the skill that Binnington can bring to the table. However, he does seem to be a product of the defensive system that is in front of him. Entering into the final season of his full no-trade clause and Joel Hofer set to become the club’s backup, there are plenty of questions surrounding his job security. Rolling the dice with Binnington alone could be dangerous and is recommended to add Hofer as well as a safety net should he begin to lose starts to his new backup goaltender. Proceed with caution.
Fantasy sports would not be complete without a few quick hits on a few sleeper recommendations. Here’s a look at five sleeper picks that could become valuable late-round draft or waiver-wire choices.
Nikita Alexandrov is a player that has found a good deal of success in the minors and could earn himself a spot in the bottom six this coming season. He split time between the Blues and Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League (AHL) during the 2022-23 season scoring 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) in 41 AHL games, and seven points (three goals, four assists) in 28 NHL games. He may not be ready to produce offensively in the way that fantasy owners would like from their rostered players, but can chip in the occasional points while filling out the peripheral categories in the meantime.
There is simply no way to fully know what is to come from Sammy Blais during the 2023-24 season. After producing 17 goals and 35 points in his first 119 regular season NHL games, he returned to the club after being traded by the New York Rangers only to score 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 31 games, a 23.8 goal and 52.9 point pace.
He will be dependent on his deployment and could be a reliable streamer candidate should he get the ice time that saw him reach a new career-high 25 points.
Like fellow forward, Brandon Saad, Kasperi Kapanen has been a consistent point-producing middle-six forward in the NHL. After scoring 14 points in 23 games for St. Louis, he could be primed for another 40-plus point season, a point that he has not reached since 2018-19 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is another player who will not get you much beyond goals and assists but could prove serviceable in deep leagues.
Looking to make the jump to the NHL on a full-time basis, Jake Neighbours has little to prove elsewhere but the NHL this coming season. After scoring 45 points in 30 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings during the 2021-22 season, he has come to the NHL scoring 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 52 regular season games. He split time between the Blues and Thunderbirds this past season scoring a combined 15 goals and 26 assists through 66 games. He, like Alexandrov, is another player who will work to add goals and assists this season while securing hits and blocked shots having averaged 1.47 and 0.48 per game in his career, respectively.
One of the Blues’ top prospects for several seasons, the 25-year-old defenseman has only played 19 career NHL games due to an extensive injury-riddled past. That being said, when he has been in the NHL, Perunovich has certainly made his mark securing six assists through 19 regular season games and four assists in seven playoff games. The question of his health remains but all signs indicate that he could be a highly regarded point-producing defenseman throughout his NHL career.
The Blues, despite their disastrous 2022-23 season record, remain a club with high expectations and multiple fantasy-relevant assets. While they might not return to their 2021-22 form that saw nine 20-plus goal scorers and eight players produce more than 50 points, a good portion of the team’s roster can serve their respective roles in a fantasy setting.