The defending Stanley Cup Champion did a spectacular job keeping the squad together without spending an exuberant amount of cash to do so. Has the Blues success hurt themselves and the rest of the league? Only time will tell.
Biggest Strength: They’re Pretty Much the Same Team
They didn’t make wholesale fire changes. Nor did they need to, no one was lined up for a new contract, outside of the Jordan Binnington contract. Seriously, in the forward group, they will start the same twelve forwards that they won the Stanley Cup with and it cost them virtually nothing. Ivan Barbashev got a two-year deal at $1.428M/yr, Oskar Sundqvist got a four-year deal at $2.75M/yr, Zach Sanford for two years at $1.5M/yr., and Robby Fabbri who received a one-year $900k contract. Their top four are returning players and they traded Joel Edmundson for Justin Faulk. What a weird trade that was by the way. Acquired someone who was arguably worse than Edmundson and more expensive. Also, just not a need for the Blues. There is a team that has yet to be mentioned in this Central Division breakdown that probably should have moved Heaven and Earth to get Justin Falk because their defense severely needs it. Did the Blues get Justin Faulk just to spite that team? No idea.
Biggest Weakness: They’re Pretty Much the Same Team
I would have put championship pedigree as the weakness, but the issue is they just won the Cup. Here is the short of it: this is the same team that was dead last in the NHL in early January. Tarasenko and O’Reilly are great players, but I doubt they would have similar performances against the Maple Leafs, the Lighting, and perhaps the Caps. They needed double OT to beat the Stars in the Conference Semifinals, I don’t think this team is good enough. It’s just that. This cycles back to what I stated earlier. The Blues winning the Stanely Cup could convince themselves and other fringe teams that they’re just good enough to make a serious run. Also, look at what happened in 2017 to the Blues after Jake Allen stonewalled the Wild in the first round. They paid him and he has struggled ever since. Easily could happen to Jordan Bennington. Goalies are weird sometimes.
That said, the Blues will probably be last in the league midseason and make a playoff run again, just in spite.
Or the exact opposite; first in the league, cataclysmic crash. Could be fun.