Nikita Alexandrov was the headlining piece selected by the Blues in the 2019 NHL Draft
On a high from which they will maybe never come off of, the St. Louis Blues are in a very enviable position as the offseason gets in full swing.
Let’s count their blessings. First, they won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. That eliminates the spectre of past failures and means there’s zero pressure to next year “the” year. Secondly, most of the core pieces are under contract, and the ones that aren’t are restricted free agents, rather than unrestricted. I think we can expect that managing all the RFAs into the fold will be Armstrong’s main objective between now and the start of training camp.
Thirdly, it’s a rich free agent class, and the Blues have money with which to bit, should they wish. Artemi Panarin is the headliner, of course, but beyond him there’s a wealth of forward depth, including Ryan Dzingel, Micheal Ferland, Mats Zuccarello, Wayne Simmonds, and Gustav Nyquist. The Blues have 2 lines worth of RFA forwards they need to address, but if they want to upgrade the bottom 6, this year is the time to do it.
Lastly, the Blues, even though lacking a first-round pick, added to their prospect stockpile by selecting 5 players. The most intriguing is their top selection, second-rounder Nikita Alexandrov. He’s a skilled Russian forward who has quick hands, a sure shot and isn’t afraid of going to the net. You can see some of his highlights from this past year here.
The Blues have shown they aren’t afraid of drafting Russians. And they shouldn’t be, considering how well things have worked out with Tarasenko and Barbashev. They have two other Russians in the minors already – Alexey Toropchenko and Klim Kostin. It’s possible that one day the Blues coach could ice a line of all three. NHL teams can’t afford to be content with their prospects, because so few ever develop into productive NHL-ers.
So we see that the Blues have a lot going for them at the moment. The roster likely won’t undergo severe overhaul; the prospect pipeline got richer; and the Blues can incrementally upgrade in free agency.
The best kind of offseason is one in which major trades are made or free agents are signed. We’ll see, but the team doesn’t really have the need for such moves this year. And that’s a rarity for the Blues.