Current projected cap space: 3.3 million
2015-16 Record: 49-24-9 107 pts
The St. Louis Blues made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they lost in 6 games to the San Jose Sharks. The Blues are a team with an interesting history as well. In their 48 years of existence they have missed the playoffs just 8 times plus 1 season lost to a lockout. In their first 3 seasons, they were swept out of the Cup Final by the Canadiens twice and the Bruins once. They have not been back to the Cup Final since.
For a lot of Wild fans, the most interesting move the Blues have made in the offseason would have to be tapping former Wild bench boss Mike Yeo as the heir to the throne behind Head Coach Ken Hitchcock who has announced this will be his final season coaching. This sets up an interesting dynamic that could well blow up in the Blues collective face if the players stop buying in to their "lame-duck" head coach and start looking to Yeo for answers. Especially if the team starts to struggle, which with some of the losses in leadership roles is not that far-fetched.
The biggest loss, in leadership at least would have to be former team captain David Backes. His 206 goals and 254 assists in 727 NHL games for the Blues are remarkable. With 5 seasons where he notched 50+ points, he's been a steady driving force for the Blues over his career. The powers that be felt it was time to move on from Backes though, and he has found a new home with the Boston Bruins.
One of the more enjoyable moments in the Wild/Blues rivalry came to us courtesy of our next departure from the Blues. I can't say he will be missed, but I do know we'll all be laughing a lot less come next season. Steve Ott was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the Blues during the 2013-14 NHL season and after just 2 1/2 seasons with the Blues he has taken his "talents" to the Detroit Red Wings. The noted agitator does have some redeeming qualities on the ice as he is pretty solid in the faceoff circle. Of course, Wild fans will always have a soft spot in their hearts for him after Matt Dumba taught us all how to #LaughAtOtt during the 2014-15 NHL post-season.
Also on the chopping block for the Blues were Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott. Both players made their way to the Calgary Flames this offseason, Elliott via trade and Brouwer through free agency. Elliott started 38 games for the Blues last season and boasted a .930 Sv% and a 2.07 GAA. Brouwer played 1 season with the Blues, all 82 games. He scored 18 goals with 21 assists and finished 6th on the team in points.
It's interesting the Blues would part ways with these two. Both players are 30, but neither seem to be yet on the downswing, yet. Jake Allen is a fine netminder, and the addition of Carter Hutton coming over from the Nashville Predators provides a solid backup but holds little experience in the NHL. The Blues aren't exactly swimming in cap space, but have enough to keep the furnace running.
Carter Hutton spent his last 3 season with the Nashville Predators after dipping his toes in the water with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2012-13 season. With 75 games under his belt in Nashville over 3 seasons, he's posted a respectable .910 Sv% along with his 2.55 GAA.
Also coming into the fold for the Blues is veteran winger David Perron. Perron was originally drafted by the Blues in the 2007 entry draft. A 26th overall selection who's been bounced around since the 2013-14, finds himself bouncing back to the gateway city. His production has slowed in the past couple seasons, but he provides some depth that any team would be happy to have.
The Blues may well be the most interesting story line coming out of the Central Division this season. With the team shedding some of its leadership, and the hiring of Mike Yeo, it will be interesting to see if the Blues can make another deep post season push and get over the hump. A goal made all the more difficult by the tough divisional competition. Only time will tell if the team gels under Hitchcock in his final season, or if the team falls apart and looks to Yeo for answers.