Blues season preview: Binnington must get it back in shape

The 2022-23 NHL season begins October 7. With training camps open, NHL.com takes a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the expected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the St. Louis Blues.

Fitness Trainer: Craig Beerup (season five)

Last season: 49-22-11; Third place in the Central Division, lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the Western Conference

3 keys

1. Binnington’s return to the top

Jordan Bennington He is once again the undisputed starting player for the St. Louis Blues after they both traded Phil Hoso To the Detroit Red Wings on July 13. Bennington was excellent in the Stanley Cup playoffs, scoring 1.72 goals-to-average and .949 saves in six games after a lackluster regular season (18-14-4, 3.13 GAA, .901 save percentage in 37 games). His ability to return to his former form is crucial for a team with championship aspirations.

2. Depth in crime

One of the distinguishing features of the Blues last season was their depth, with nine scorers with 20 goals. They lost one of those players, attacking David Peron, who has 57 points (27 goals, 30 assists) in 67 games and signed with the Red Wings as a free agent on July 13, and they’ll need someone to replace some or all of that production. It is possible that comes from the continuous acceleration of development of Jordan Kero or Robert Thomas or a possibility like Jake the Neighbor or Zachary Bolduc .

3. Centered around Thomas

The Blues made a bet on Thomas, signing the 23-year-old to an eight-year contract worth $65 million. Thomas had one season left on his current contract and could have become a restricted free agent after that season. The center set its NHL career highs in goals (20), assists (57) and points (77) in 72 games last season, and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong described Thomas as the centerpiece of the team. Thomas is looking forward to continuing his momentum and development as one of the Blues’ most important players.

Video: The 15 best Jordanian Kyrou plays from the 2021-22 season

Roster Rondon

making the cut

With Kyrou potentially moving into the top six to take Perron’s place, the Blues have a vacancy in the third line forward. Deciding who will participate there will be a focus point for the training camp, and it could include neighbors or Bulldogs. The third defense pair is also in question. The upper pair appears locked, with Nick LadyAnd the Colton ParaikoAnd the Tori Krug And the Justin Falkbut the Blues have eight defending men with one-way contracts and there will be some fights in the camp.

The most interesting addition

Although Neighbors isn’t a lock on creating the opening night’s lineup, it appears to be heading in that direction. The 20-year-old played nine games in the National Hockey League last season and earned two points (one goal, one assist). He played the rest of the season with Edmonton of the Western Hockey League, where he captained and led the team to the WHL Championship after collecting 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 30 regular season games. Louis’ first-round pick (#26) in the 2020 NHL Draft may help make up for Peron’s loss.

The biggest possible surprise

The most likely scenario does not see Bolduc make and commit to the NHL roster this season, but it remains a possibility for the 19-year-old. He had 99 points (55 goals, 44 assists) in 65 games for Quebec in the Quebec Junior Hockey League last season, which is where he could finish this season. But he has a great shot, talent and skill to be very successful in the league. The burning question is when.

ready to hack

It looked like last season was going to be the season for the man of defense Scott Peronovich To leave his mark, but injuries hampered. If the 24-year-old remains healthy, the blues can use him instead of Marco Scandella On the third pair and power play. Perunovic scored 22 points (three goals and 19 assists) in 17 games for Springfield in the American Hockey League and six assists in 19 games for the Blues last season.

sleeping fantasy

Ivan Barbashev, C/LW (fictional draft center average: 176.3) – He finished fifth in the Blues with the highest NHL highs in goals (26) and points (60) last season and had the third most 5 goals for 5 per 60 minutes (0.94; 40 games at least). Barbashev could have a higher ceiling if he sees more top six players and uses the power after Perron’s departure and maintains his high career NHL shooting percentage (19.2 in 351 NHL games). – Pete Jensen

Expected line

Pavel BuchnevichRyan O’ReillyVladimir Tarasenko

Brandon Saad – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kerro

Jake the Neighbor – Brayden Shin – Ivan Barbashev

Clem Costin Noel AcariNathan Walker

Nick Lady – Colton Paraiko

Tori Krug – Justin Falk

Scott Peronovich – Robert Borzozo

Jordan Bennington

Thomas Grace

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