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St. Louis Blues fantasy hockey outlook

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk

Tarasenko will be referenced as a fantasy breakout example for years to come after being taken with the 160th pick on average in Yahoo drafts and finishing with 37 goals (T-5th), 73 points (T-10th), a plus-27 (T-7th) and 264 shots on goal (T-11th). Despite missing a few games down the stretch because of injury, the St. Louis Blues right wing was one of four players (Jamie Benn, John Tavares, and Tyler Seguin) with 35-plus goals and 35-plus assists and finished third in goals per 60 minutes (1.64) among those with 52-plus games behind Alex Ovechkin (1.93) and Rick Nash (1.83). To top it off, Tarasenko scored six goals in as many Stanley Cup Playoff games, giving him 10 in 13 postseason games. He's 23 and one of a handful of players League-wide with 50-goal upside. Select him without hesitation in the late first or early second round because he has the chance to be a mainstay among the fantasy top 10.

BLUES' FANTASY-RELEVANT PLAYERS

Below is a list of the fantasy-relevant players in the St. Louis Blues organization. These players have been arranged by NHL.com's fantasy staff based on projected value and by position. These players range from top-tier assets to deep sleepers and should be on your radar in standard Yahoo leagues.

FORWARDS

Vladimir Tarasenko
David Backes
Alexander Steen
Jaden Schwartz
Paul Stastny
Jori Lehtera
Troy Brouwer
Dmitrij Jaskin

DEFENSEMEN

Kevin Shattenkirk
Alex Pietrangelo

GOALIES

Brian Elliott
Jake Allen

* Red indicates newcomer to team

Shattenkirk is among the top 10 defensemen after eclipsing his 81-game totals from 2013-14 in some categories and coming close in others despite playing 56 games last season (eight goals, 36 assists, plus-19, 52 PIMs, 25 PPP, 135 SOG). He was the most valuable fantasy defenseman when he was injured, and has 51 power-play points in the past two seasons, third-most among defensemen. He returned late in the season and went on to log major minutes (22:55) with eight assists in six postseason games. He'll be off the board early, but likely at least a round or two after Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban are taken, which makes him a value pick.

Undervalued: Jaden Schwartz

Schwartz, a left wing, has back-to-back seasons of 25-plus goals, 30-plus assists, a plus-13 or better and 184-plus SOG, yet is outside the top 100 in Yahoo's preseason rankings. He saw an elevated role on the power play (2:20 per game) compared to his 2013-14 average (1:46) and made it count with 16 points (T-4th on Blues). He's a non-factor in PIMs and has less value in leagues that count hits and/or blocked shots, but he ranked 18th in points per 60 (2.76; minimum 75 games) last season and tied for 20th in even-strength points over the past two seasons (88). He'll touch on five of six standard categories alongside Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera, so consider Schwartz a borderline top-75 player and prioritize him if available after the eighth round.

Overvalued: Alex Pietrangelo

Pietrangelo should be considered a top-15 fantasy defenseman but failed to live up to his billing last season even with Shattenkirk missing a large chunk of time. Pietrangelo was 159th in Yahoo's year-end rankings, but is 58th this preseason, which means he's a tad overrated. He shot 3.6 percent (lowest of his five full NHL seasons) and posted a minus rating despite St. Louis winning the Central Division. He had one of the heaviest workloads in the League last season (seventh in ice time), but is a defenseman who's more valuable in reality than in fantasy. Pietrangelo (2:26 per game on PP; 12 PPP last season) was one of 11 defensemen with 40-plus points and 195-plus SOG last season, but if Shattenkirk (3:26 per game on PP) stays healthy, he could steal even more PPP than he did last season. It's better to wait a round or two than reach for Pietrangelo.

Deep sleeper: Troy Brouwer

T.J. Oshie has a chance to thrive with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom with the Washington Capitals after being traded by the Blues, but there's definitely two sides to the story. Brouwer, who Oshie was traded for, is a physical right wing who specializes in hits and power-play points and will compete against Dmitrij Jaskin for a top-six spot next to Alexander Steen and David Backes. Though Brouwer played next to Evgeny Kuznetsov last season, Kuznetsov was up-and-down and Brouwer may be better suited for a role next to physical, steady linemates with a chance to earn power-play time. Brouwer will fall outside the top 200 players in many leagues but could have top-notch linemates and end up being a steal. Target Brouwer in late rounds and don't be surprised if he gets 50-plus points, 50-plus PIMs, 15-20 PPP and 200-plus hits.

Goalie outlook: Brian Elliott and Jake Allen

It's hard to believe Elliot has been among the best timeshare goalies in the NHL four seasons running. Since joining the Blues in 2011-12, Elliott has the fourth-best save percentage (.923) among goalies with 100-plus games, trailing Tuukka Rask (.927), Cory Schneider (.927) and Henrik Lundqvist (.925). The most Elliott has played in a single season over those four seasons was 46 games in 2014-15, and he's never played 60 games. Don't expect him to reach that mark in 2015-16, but he's someone who should be targeted in the 13-16 range at his position for quality over quantity.

That said, don't get comfortable once Elliott is in your hands. If you draft him, make sure to secure his emerging teammate Jake Allen, who led rookies with 22 wins and four shutouts in 37 games and has two effective regular seasons in the NHL (the first being a 15-game, nine-win stint in 2012-13). Considering he's not the starter, he's a breakout candidate capable of 30-plus wins and 6-plus shutouts if he plays 50-plus games. Elliott will almost certainly be drafted before Allen on average, so if one of your opponents drafts the more experienced goalie, swoop in and grab Allen, who has a higher fantasy ceiling as early as this season.

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