Here are some ways the St. Louis Blues can make sure they ensure success in both the regular season and post-season in the 2015-16 season.
1. Resign Vladimir Tarasenko
This is obvious. Tarasenko is the best offensive player on the Blues and he’s the pure goal scorer they’ve waited to have for years. Re-signing him has to be the number one priority for the Blues during the offseason. It’s as simple as that.
2. Make a blockbuster trade
Obviously, the core group of players for Blues ensures regular season success, but when it comes to the playoffs, it’s like they forget how to play hockey. The Blues have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons and in the five playoff series they’ve played in, they’ve lost four of those series, with a record of 7-17. Also, in the last four seasons, the Blues have not finished worse than second place in the central division in the standings. So it’s not like they sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard and are beaten by a much more formidable foe. That hasn’t been the case at all. The Blues are always loaded when it comes playoff time but they fall apart and crumble very quickly. That core group of players needs to be shaken up and changed. There isn’t one specific trade the Blues have to make but something like this would be ideal.
RW Phil Kessel
LW James van Riemsdyk
Toronto Maple Leafs get:
C David Backes
RW T.J. Oshie
C Patrik Berglund
Maybe a few draft picks here and there but I think a change of scenery could benefit each of the players and both teams. This writer would take a top line trio of JVR-Stastny-Kessel over one with Steen-Backes-Oshie. Maybe have Steen be on the top line and have JVR on second line, but that’s on head coach Ken Hitchcock. We should not be surprised to see Steen be traded somewhere else too.
3. Make a few quality signings in free agency
For the longest time, the Blues hardly did anything in free agency, other than sign maybe a third or fourth line type guy but that was it. Finally in the 2014 offseason, the Blues made a splash and signed Paul Statsny. There aren’t really any UFA’s that are superstars or anything like that, but the Blues could sign some role players like Matt Beleskey or Erik Cole.
4. Make Jake Allen the full time starter
Jake Allen showed in the late regular season and post season in 2015 that he is very talented and capable of being an NHL starter, and the 2015-16 season should be the season where he becomes the full time starter. Yes, Brian Elliott is a great goalie, but it’s time for Jake Allen to take over the starting job.
5. Build the team around the talented youth.
The captains should be as follows:
C – Alex Pietrangelo
A – Vladimir Tarasenko
A – Kevin Shattenkirk
A – Jaden Schwartz (yes, you can have a third alternate captain).
The four listed above are some of the top players on the Blues and are all 26 years old or younger. They are the future of the franchise and it’s time to build the team around them; especially with having Backes, Oshie, Berglund, and others (according to the above stated plan) gone.
6. Have a head coaching change
There should be an asterisk around this one. Yes, Hitchcock resigned for one year a couple months ago. This writer is not saying fire him now and find a new guy, rather, saying that if the Blues get into December, January, or even further and things aren’t working out with Hitchcock and the team, fire him and either find a new guy or have one of the assistant coaches move up to be an interim head coach. If Hitchcock works out, then the Blues front office looks like geniuses.