ST. LOUIS BLUES
LAST SEASON: 46-29-7, 99 points. Finished third in Central Division. Lost to Nashville Predators in second round.
COACH: Mike Yeo (first full season, seventh NHL season).
ADDED: F Brayden Schenn, F Chris Thorburn, F Beau Bennett, D Nate Prosser
LOST: F Jori Lehtera, F David Perron, F Scottie Upshall, F Ryan Reaves
PLAYER TO WATCH: Vladimir Tarasenko. After putting up 73, 74 and 75 points the past three seasons, the 25-year-old Russian sharpshooter is due for another monster year. Yeo wants Tarasenko to help get the Blues to the next level, and that means doing more than just score goals. Of course, Tarasenko is really good at that and is a candidate to score the most goals in the league and be in the MVP discussion.
OUTLOOK: Navigating injuries to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forwards Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund, Robby Fabbri and Zach Sanford will be an early test for St. Louis in the deep, hyper-competitive Central Division. If the Jake Allen from the last 36 games last season and playoffs (1.88 goals-against average, .937 save percentage) is back, the Blues will sail into the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender again. But Yeo also wants his team to be better defensively with an eye on going further in the playoffs.
NHL Hockey Pro Men Associated Press