Found September 20, 2013 on The PensNation:
We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects. Today, we take a look at the St. Louis Blues. By: Meesh Shanmugam (@HockeyMeesh) 2013 Season: 29-17-2, 60 pts (2nd in Central Division, 4th in Western Conference) Want to get annoying in a hurry? Add Maxim Lapierre. (Derek Leung/Getty Images) Free Agents Signed: C Christian Hanson (Bos) C Derek Roy (Van) LW Alexander Bolduc (Phx) RW Mark Mancari (Buf) C Maxim Lapierre (Van) C Keith Aucoin (NYI) Free Agents Lost: LW Andrew Murray C Andy McDonald (Retired) C Scott Nichol (Retired) Trades: LW David Perron to Edmonton for LW Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 2nd round pick Future Considerations to Ottawa for C Pat Cannone D Kris Russell to Calgary for a 2014 5th rounder Promising Prospects: G Jake Allen RW Vladimir Tarasenko RW Ty Rattie LW Jaden Schwartz C Max Gardiner The Blues entered last season as a Stanley Cup favorite around the league but fell short of their goal at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings for the 2nd season in a row. Overall, it was a solid regular season for St. Louis. Despite trying to chase the uncatchable Chicago Blackhawks all year, the Blues finished 4th in the conference to secure home ice for the first round. Unfortunately for them, they ran into LA again and the Kings knew what to do as they dispatched the Blues in 6 games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. David Backes hopes to finally lead his team past the likes of LA. (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images) The franchise didn’t want to change too much to remain a Cup contender in the offseason, but they needed to improve, re-sign some key guys, and still manage to stay under the salary cap. The first priority was improve depth down the middle. On the first two days of free agency, St. Louis signed centers Keith Aucoin, Maxim Lapierre, and Derek Roy to immediately bolster their depth and versatility down the middle. The moves went far beyond just offsetting the loss of Andy McDonald to retirement and demonstrated that the Blues wanted to compete with teams like Chicago and LA who were exceptionally strong at center. The Blues also had several free agents to re-sign and started early by signing Kevin Shattenkirk to a 4-year deal worth $21 million in June. With contracts necessary for Chris Stewart and Alex Pietrangelo among others, the Blues opted to make a trade that was likely motivated by finances. St. Louis shipped off David Perron to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi and 2nd round pick. Paajarvi had been spinning his wheels in mediocrity in Edmonton and may benefit from new scenery. More than anything though, this freed up money for the Blues down the line in comparison to what Perron would command. With a little less to worry about for the salary cap, the Blues successfully resigned Stewart (2 yrs, 8.25 million), extended defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s contract (5 years, $27 million) and continued to negotiate with star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. It took until the start of training camp, but the Blues finally signed Pietrangelo to a 7 year deal worth $42 million. A healthy Taransenko this year could be a huge boost for St. Louis. (LM Otero/AP Photo) Even with the loss of Perron, the Blues are entering the 2013-2014 season as a team on the rise and one that should battle the Blackhawks for the new Central Division title. The team is defensively sound from top to bottom, has a reliable tandem in net (Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak) with a strong 3rd option in Jake Allen, and has more depth than ever before.  With David Backes and T.J. Oshie leading the forwards, and Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk leading the defense, the Blues will be contenders for the foreseeable future. Beyond their current talent, there aren’t a lot of immediate impact prospects that are ready to join the team.  However, forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko proved they belonged last year and should continue to provide the Blues with productive minutes at the top of the prospect chain. The Blues are poised for another attempt at a Stanley Cup run this season. They will be the favorites for a few analysts and now they have the depth at center to get past a team like the Kings. Expect plenty of low-scoring, grind-it-out games in the regular season. That type of play will just prepare the Blues for a deep playoff run. This could finally be the year that the St. Louis Blues raise the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
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