Blues Have Been a Mixed Bag of Results at Quarter-Season Mark

David Perron, Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan O'Reilly, St Louis Blues, Torey Krug

The St. Louis Blues have played 21 games this season, and have officially passed into the second quarter of the season. The team has played enough games to indicate a player’s current pace in relation to his career and past few seasons. The grades below factor in games missed and the players’ current performance at only 25 percent of the season played and where it is currently trending.

Grade: A

Ivan Barbashev

Barbashev is currently one of the biggest bargains the Blues have on their roster at $2.25 million. After 21 games this season, the Russian forward is seeing just under three additional minutes of time on ice each game, and still maintaining a shooting percentage of 36.3 percent, just 1.2 percent above his past three seasons’ average. With 13 points in 21 games, Barbashev is having himself a career year.

Pavel Buchnevich

In his first season with the Blues, Buchnevich is making a name for himself. Tied with Jordan Kyrou this season with goals in seven games, the 26-year-old is reproducing his 2020-21 season that saw him score 20 goals and 48 points in 54 games with the New York Rangers.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there were a full 82-game season, the forward would have could have set a new career high, as he was on pace for 73 points, a feat surely he would like to achieve this season with the Blues.

Torey Krug

After an underwhelming first season in St. Louis, Krug started off on a torrid pace as he managed nine points in his first 10 games to the 2021-22 season. After missing five games due to COVID, he looks poised and ready to return to his scoring ways and add another 60 points or more this season.

Jordan Kyrou

The most consistent player the Blues have on their roster, Kyrou has scored at least one point in 15 of the games this season, and has scored a goal in at least seven. The 22-year-old has earned every second of his ice time and is showing no signs of slowing down this season. The question to ask now is if his 86-point pace is sustainable for a player who has only played 120 games in the NHL.

David Perron

The veteran forward from Sherbrooke, Quebec, is among the early season leaders for the Blues with seven goals and 11 assists in 20 games. After leaving the game against the Chicago Blackhawks with an upper-body injury, time will tell when Perron will return to the ice this season. Perron is only 74 games away from 1,000 in his NHL career, a milestone in his career that would be remarkable to hit with the team that drafted him and has enjoyed 11 seasons with. The Blues would love to see him back soon as he had six points in his last five games.  

Brandon Saad

With eight goals in 17 games, Saad is off to the races this season, scoring at his highest goals per game rate of his career (0.47). The forward is well-known in the Central Division after playing seven of his 11 seasons in Chicago, two seasons in Columbus, and one in Colorado.

The Blues brought Saad in to score goals and that is exactly what he has been doing. Saad is seeing some of his best days early in St. Louis since his time in Columbus when he scored 31 goals in 78 games during the 2015-16 season, and 24 goals in 2016-17. There is a potential for regression, but the pairing with Ryan O’Reilly, along with 16 minutes of time on ice per game, could suggest otherwise.

Vladimir Tarasenko

Vintage “Vladi” Tarasenko is back. Had you told someone that there was a trade request made by the Russian in the offseason, it could certainly fool most. With five points in his last four games, and 19 points in 21 games this season, Tarasenko is looking healthy once more and ready to add another 30 or more goals this year.

Robert Thomas

Experiencing the fourth-season breakout, the 22-year-old forward is currently on pace to nearly double his career 82-game pace of 46 points. Thomas has scored 20 points in 21 games this season and is on pace for 78 points. After signing a contract extension in the offseason, he has improved faceoff percentage by nearly 10 percent, and has inherited responsibilities that have increased his time on ice by five minutes per night. Along with Kyrou, the breakout season is here.

Grade: B

Robert Bortuzzo

Bortuzzo is not the flashiest of defensemen in the league and will not pretend to be. He has been serviceable for the Blues this season, averaging 13:27 time on ice. The 33-year-old will likely continue his duties on a rotation this season as his third-pairing time will be shared with Niko Mikkola and Calle Rosen. His hits (30) and blocks (20) suggest that there has been no anomaly to his game this season and should continue to trend in the same direction moving forward.

Tyler Bozak

He is another “bargain bin” player for the Blues. Signed to a league minimum $750,000, Bozak has seven points in 21 games in a reduced role that has him on the ice for under 13 minutes per night. At this point in his career, anything positive that the 35-year-old veteran has to contribute on and off the ice is simply a bonus for the team.

Justin Faulk

Like his scoring counterpart, Krug, Faulk has turned the opinion of Blues fans as he continues to produce offensively. A down first season in St. Louis saw him produce only five goals and 16 points in 69 games, but he is currently on pace for 35 points over 82 games this year.

Ville Husso

Husso’s progress report consists of a very small four-game sample size. Sidelined with COVID, he has seen very little action this season but has certainly made the most of it. The 26-year-old is 3-1 this year, including one shutout performance. His .936 save percentage (SV%) this season has warranted additional looks as Jordan Binnington’s backup, and could potentially be a 1B goaltender in the near future.

Scott Perunovich

Perunovich has done everything he needs to earn time at the NHL level. At 23 years old, he has played seven games now in his NHL career and has amassed two assists. Perunovich has looked sharp early on in his career and has helped result in scoring plays that have not shown up on the scoresheet. With another small sample size, Perunovich has earned his grade so far this season.

Related: Blues Add Major Reinforcements in Sundqvist, Perunovich

Oskar Sundqvist

Two assists in seven games may not seem like much, but after missing nearly a year of hockey and recovering in the way that Sundqvist has, it is impressive to watch him play. Sundqvist is currently playing at a 0.29 point-per-game pace, forecasted to score 19 points this season, and is playing just under his career average 0.31. points per game. Time will tell if he can recapture his scoring ways that helped the Blues between both 2018-19 and the 2019-20 seasons when he was scoring at a 0.40 point-per-game pace

Grade: C

Jordan Binnington

Currently ranking near the bottom of the top 30 goalies in the NHL in almost every category, Binnington’s advanced statistics are leaving fans wanting more than he is currently offering. To date, the goaltender has six quality starts in his 15 games this season, a minus-0.24 goals saved above average after averaging a 2.50 over the last two seasons, an .875 SV% on the penalty kill, and .846 on the power play. The question that begs to be asked is if he has been just below or average in net for the Blues, or is this a product of the defensive play in front of him?

Klim Kostin

In his first season in the NHL, Kostin has not done much to wow up to this point. The former first-round draft pick in 2017 is ranked 24th in scoring (five points) amongst all NHL rookies this season, while averaging the lowest time on ice (9:30) of the top 39 rookies. There is more that the forward has to offer, but Kostin needs to earn the ice time to prove it.

Niko Mikkola

Mikkola has not looked great but has not looked bad either. A defenseman that has only played in six games this season, he has not had much time to find a groove while spending time watching from the press box. Mikkola could be an option to start taking away ice time from any blueliners that begin or continue to struggle.

James Neal

At 34 years of age, Neal is a veteran presence on the team that still has the potential to score a goal every time he steps on the ice. However, that is not what has happened this season. He has played in 17 games this season and has totaled two goals and two assists, putting him on pace to produce nine goals and nine assists. Should he continue this pace, expectations should be severely limited. It should not surprise fans if he became a healthy scratch from time to time.

Ryan O’Reilly

The Blues captain started his 2021-22 season scoring one point per game, looking to secure another 70-plus point season total for the fourth consecutive season with the Blues. However, O’Reilly then missed four games due to COVID and went scoreless in his first five games upon his return. Since then, he has scored five points in seven games and has begun to correct his point pace for the season. While 70 or more points may still be possible, it will take a valiant effort from the captain.

St. Louis Blues Ryan O'Reilly David Perron
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly celebrates with David Perron (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

Since then, he has scored five points in seven games and has begun to correct his point pace for the season. While 70 or more points may still be possible, it will take a valiant effort from the captain.

Colton Parayko

A struggling top defenseman for the Blues, Parayko is struggling to find his footing early in the season. The defenseman’s defensive metrics have yet to settle into place as he is currently leading the team in giveaways (13). On the offensive side of things, his points per 60 minutes is still hovering around his career average at 1.1, while his shots on goal per 60 minutes are down by nearly 1.5 shots per game, and starts in the offensive zone are also down by 10 percent from last season. Parayko will need to step up more defensively as the Blues are turning more toward Krug and Faulk for the offensive side of things on the blue line.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn’s season is a bit of a mixed bag. The forward started by scoring three goals and totaled six points in nine games before an upper-body injury kept him out of the lineup for an additional nine games. Since then, the 30-year-old forward has played three games and recorded seven shots on goal in that timespan. Before his injury, he was on pace to score over 50 points and rank amongst the top point producers on the team. He is currently on pace to score 18 goals and 37 points this season, his lowest full-season point total since 2012-13 with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: 3 Things Blues Fans Should Be Thankful For

Jake Walman

Walman hasn’t been amazing but also has been serviceable on the third pairing. Coming up as an offensive prospect, he has done a great job of blocking shots at a 0.86 per-game pace while shooting just over 1.2 shots per game. Averaging only 13:30 of ice time this season with no power play time, he is making the most of his opportunities early in his career.

Grade: D

Marco Scandella

There have been games that he has been serviceable and others that he has just been plain poor. Scandella is currently on pace for 16 points in 82 games, just under his last three-year average of 16 points. He has looked replaceable on a blue line that has defensemen that are ready to jump in and take his ice time. After practice on Monday, the Blues head coach was asked about Scandella skating with the extra defensemen and if he would be scratched Tuesday against Tampa Bay. “That’s a decision I’ll make tomorrow. It’s possible.”

Summary

This season, the Blues are experiencing their fair share of individuals who have been meeting expectations or are having career years. On the other hand, there are a handful of players that are currently experiencing seasons that are under average and have the potential to perform under expectations. The Blues this season have had their fair share of ups and downs but have plenty of optimism surrounding their outlook this year.


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