As time passes during this period without sports — a period with much more important things at stake — we have time to think of hockey of the past, present, and future.
What I am going to do here is come up with a forward line, defensive pairing and goaltender of the past, present, and a young star, all from the St. Louis Blues organization.
The Forward Line
Left Wing: Brett Hull (Past)
This was an easy pick for a goal-scoring winger of the past. Hull is the all-time leading goal scorer in franchise history, with 527 of them in 744 games.
Hull scored goals in his sleep when he played, his 1990-91 season with 86 goals is third all-time in single-season goals scored — the top two spots are held by Wayne Gretzky of course.
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Although he’s listed as a right wing, I am going to have him play the left so he can line up in the left circle with his right-handed shot.
The thing with Hull is that you need to find a good center to feed him the puck, and that isn’t that difficult with the number of good centers the team has had over the last 10 years.
Center: Robert Thomas (Future)
Thomas has already had one good season and was in the midst of a very good 2019-20 season, at the age of 20. He’s already looking like he can be a star center in the NHL. The reason he’s listed in the “future” category is simply that he’s under the age of 22 and is a huge part of the Blues’ future.
He’s already proven a clear ability to feed the puck to his linemates, as he has 32 assists in 66 games in 2019-20, playing less than 15 minutes per game. Not only can he pass at a high level, but his shot is also extremely effective when he shoots, which isn’t often. He has a sneaky good shot.
He likely would not be Hull’s Adam Oates, but he could be a modern-day player similar to him. With an elite passer like Thomas, Hull can score a lot of goals — I believe this duo would work.
Right Wing: Vladimir Tarasenko (Present)
The final player on the forward line is the best Blues goal scorer over the last decade. Tarasenko has been a constant 30-goal presence for quite some time in St. Louis.
He’s already fifth in franchise history in goals scored with 214. Prior to this season, he had five-straight seasons with 30 or more goals scored, one of those seasons being one where he scored 40.
His strength and skill put together could be the perfect finishing touch on this line.
The Forward Line Overview
My final thoughts on this line are that it is three different puzzle pieces put together to create a lethal trio.
With Thomas at center, he’s got great vision with his pure passing ability and speed. Hull is a pure goal scorer who can skate and purely fire the puck at the net. Tarasenko’s incredible strength, speed and shot make him a dangerous player on the outside.
In an 82-game season with this trio, I could see Hull and Tarasenko score 50 goals each. I could also see Thomas have upwards of 70 assists playing with those two. It’s a dangerous line, to say the least.
The Defensive Pairing
First Defenseman: Chris Pronger (Past)
Pronger was an absolute force on the blue line. I would have gone with Al MacInnis from the past, but I want some size here. Pronger’s 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame is something that he used as a massive advantage.
He scored 62 points in 79 games with a plus/minus of plus-62, and won the Hart Trophy and the Norris Trophy that season. At the time, he became the first defenseman to win the Hart trophy, since Bobby Orr in 1972.
His impact on the Blues’ organization was massive, and he deserves the honor of getting his #44 retired, which will happen next season.
You can put anyone next to Pronger and you’ll likely have a fairly lethal combo on the blue line. So, I decided to double up on large defensemen and put another skyscraper next to him.
Second Defenseman: Colton Parayko (Present)
This is my personal dream blue line. My favorite former Blue with Pronger and my current favorite Blue in Parayko. Two big defensemen with skill and physicality.
Parayko is 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, and can really skate. He also comes with a lethal slap shot from the point, one that scored him 10 goals in 64 games prior to the suspension of the 2019-20 season.
He isn’t afraid to throw some weight around either, with 80-plus hits in all five seasons of his NHL career. His high IQ on the blue line and chemistry with his veteran partner Jay Bouwmeester, were both a catalyst in the Stanley Cup run of 2019. (from ‘Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko are Blues’ best defense against Bruins,’ Boston Herald, 06/01/2019)
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Both Pronger and Parayko have Stanley Cup experience, I think they would be absolutely lethal together. This would be something special to watch, I would not want to play against this ultimate shutdown pair.
The Defensive Pairing Overview
Simply, these two together would be the pair to watch. Not much else to add, just so much size, skill, and physicality. The perfect pair to lead a team to the promised land, the type that can shut down a top line featuring Connor McDavid and others.
Joel Hofer (Future)
It’s only fair that I choose a future goaltender here, as I’ve done two present players and two past players so far, add a second future player here. Joel Hofer was one of the goaltenders for Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championships, who took home the gold medal.
He was a fourth-round pick of the Blues in the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s listed as a top-20 goaltender prospect on various lists, and continues to rise up the charts.
During the 2019-20 season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Portland Winterhawks, he had a record of 34-8-5 and .915 save percentage (SV%).
His size is intriguing in net as well, standing 6-foot-5 and 172 pounds. If you look at numbers year by year in the WHL, you can see he is getting better and better. He’s only 19 years old, so he’s still a few years away from being ready to be in the NHL, but he’s coming soon.
Overview of All the Selections
The forward line I chose with Thomas, Hull, and Tarasenko provides elite goal-scoring and very good skating. I could also see some decent defense and solid physicality from this line, if needed.
The defensive pairing with Pronger and Parayko, all you will see is tremendous physicality, good defense, and hard shots from the point. An overwhelmingly lethal pair in the making with those two.
Nobody really knows what Hofer will look like as a major league goaltender, but we will find out soon. His credentials for it seem good, with a junior league track record, size, and skill. We shall see very soon.
The Blues do have a rich history, being a 1967 expansion team, and it was difficult to make some of the selections. MacInnis, Alex Pietrangelo, Bernie Federko, and others certainly got some consideration to lock in spots for the lineup, but fell short.