Blues 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After NHL Playoff Loss

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2022

Blues 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After NHL Playoff Loss

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the postseason with a second-round loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, putting the team's focus on the offseason.

    St. Louis is only a few years removed from winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, but the past couple of seasons have seen disappointing endings with first-round playoff losses in both 2020 and 2021.

    The squad appeared ready for a deeper run in 2021-22 with 109 points and a 49-22-11 record in the regular season, featuring the type of rotation that can beat nearly anyone in the NHL. It still wasn't enough to bring home another title.

    On the plus side, the roster is still loaded with talents who remain under contract heading into next year.

    It could lead to a big 2022-23 campaign with some key upgrades over the next few months.

Blues' Free Agents

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    • D Nick Leddy
    • F David Perron
    • F James Neal
    • F MacKenzie MacEachern
    • D Calle Rosen
    • F Tyler Bozak
    • G Charlie Lindgren
    • G Ville Husso
    • D Tommy Cross
    • F Sam Anas


    Restricted Free Agents

    • D Scott Perunovich
    • F Klim Kostin
    • F Hugh McGing
    • F William Bitten
    • D Niko Mikkola
    • F Tanner Kaspick
    • F Nathan Todd
    • F Dakota Joshua


    The Blues will have some tough decisions when it comes to free agency, with goalie Ville Husso likely near the top of the list.

    Husso had a breakout season with a 2.47 goals-against average in 39 appearances, much better than Jordan Binnington's 3.10 GAA. The Blues went 25-6-6 in Husso's starts but just 18-13-4 with Binnington in net.

    The problem is Husso is a free agent, while Binnington is signed for five more seasons, including a no-trade clause through next year. St. Louis must decide whether to pay up for the breakout star or go back to the proven veteran heading into 2022-23.

    Experienced players like David Perron and Tyler Bozak will also be unrestricted free agents, but the team must decide if they are worth the extra cost that comes with signing aging players.

    Defenseman Niko Mikkola could also be looking for a raise this offseason after playing 52 games this season, forcing the front office's hand as a restricted free agent.

2022 NHL Draft Targets

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    The Blues gave up their second-round draft pick in the trade that landed Pavel Buchnevich, which puts more pressure on the team to hit on their first selection. Though the late-first round selection might not make an immediate impact, the team still needs long-term help for the organization.

    Here are some players to keep an eye on heading into the July 7 draft.


    Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current Broncos

    The last time the Blues used a first-round pick on a defenseman was 2012 with Jordan Schmaltz, a player who saw limited playing time across three seasons from 2016-19. It's time for the organization to try again at the position.

    St. Louis has few young defensive options on the roster, and the situation will only get worse if Scott Perunovich and Niko Mikkola leave in free agency.

    Owen Pickering could help fill a significant hole as a high-upside defender who would help on both ends of the ice if he reaches expectations.

    At 6'4", 178 pounds, Pickering has excellent size for the position and pairs with it quality stick skills. It has helped him become a key contributor for the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL, with the potential to be even better once he reaches the NHL.


    Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand

    Another towering defenseman, Lian Bichsel stands at 6'5", 216 pounds and will barely be 18 years old at the time of the draft.

    The left-handed player is originally from Switzerland and has represented the country at several youth tournaments, and he has played at the club level in Sweden for Leksands IF while seeing consistent playing time on a squad with plenty of older, more experienced players.

    Though Bichsel won't necessarily be an offensive star, he can be a reliable presence on the defensive end as a big hitter who keeps goals off the board. 

    St. Louis has done well trusting its forwards to generate the offense while keeping pressure off the blue-liners. This strategy can continue with a player like Bichsel who can fill a major need.

Early 2022-23 Season Outlook

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Most of the Blues' key players from this past season remain under contract and will be on the ice for the team in 2022-23.

    The attack has a quality mix of veterans in Vladimir Tarasenko, Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan O'Reilly, while the young players like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou should continue to improve. Blue-liners Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk continue to play at a high level, with Faulk's plus-41 rating one of the best in the NHL this season.

    This team could still use more depth, but there is enough on the roster to keep St. Louis among the top contenders in the NHL.

    The goalie situation remains a major question mark, with Jordan Binnington hoping to reestablish himself as one of the best in the league in net. If Ville Husso ends up as the No. 1, the team could be in even better shape.

    In any case, head coach Craig Berube will have a lot to work with as he tries to win a second Stanley Cup title.