Transcript of information taken from the Insider Article on ESPN.com
Using the VUKOTA projection system of Hockey Prospectus, Insider is taking the temperature of key players on every NHL team, continuing with the St. Louis Blues. For a detailed explanation of Prospectus' proprietary GVT value metric, read more here.
Note: Because of the lockout, GVT scores for the 2013 season are prorated from 48 to 82 games.
St. Louis is an amazingly strong team from top to bottom -- fast, young, superbly well-coached and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. The team made relatively few roster changes, other than shoring up their blue line late last season with veterans Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, and replacing Andy McDonald, David Perron and Scott Nichol with Derek Roy,Magnus Paajarvi and Maxim Lapierre.
The Blues finished sixth in the Western Conference last year before a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Kings. With the new divisional playoff format this season, and the level of competition in the new Central Division, the Blues should have no trouble being in the postseason mix again in 2013-14.
Trending up: G Jaroslav Halak
Last season: -1.0 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 6.8
Drafted in the ninth round in 2003, Halak burst into the limelight during his amazing 2010 postseason run with Montreal. After being acquired by St. Louis the following offseason, Halak finished sixth in the NHL in save percentage and won the William Jennings Trophy alongside his new partner, Brian Elliott. Some bad luck and a groin injury resulted in a real nosedive for Halak last season, but there's reason to believe the Slovakian goaltender will be back in flight in 2013-14.
While goalies can be quite unpredictable, Halak's .926 even-strength save percentage throughout his NHL career is actually top-10 among the league's netminders during this span, and superior to goalies like Antti Niemi, Ryan Miller and Kari Lehtonen. Halak, 28, is playing out the final season on a four-year deal that pays him $3.75 million per season, and he has a lot to prove in order to sign for the same big bucks as his peers on the next one. -- Vollman
Trending down: F Chris Stewart
Last season: 12.5 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 7.2
Stewart had a fantastic 2013 season, leading the Blues in both goals and points and tying for 18th in the league in goals. In fact, he had more points in 48 games last season than he had in 79 games in 2011-12.
Stewart's continued success is reliant on several things -- including lots of time in the offensive zone, a shooting percentage closer to his 18.6 percent last season than his 9.0 percent the season before, and his linemates' scoring on closer to 11.8 percent of their own shots as in 2013 rather than the 6.8 percent of the season before. Quite frankly, the conditions aren't likely to come together quite as beautifully for the 25-year-old former first-rounder this season. -- Vollman
Pronman's name to know: F Dmitrij Jaskin
After a less-than-successful first post-draft season, Jaskin's second season after being a second-round pick in 2011 was a breakout campaign for him. He was a top team All-Star in the QMJHL and one of the better forwards at the World Junior Championships. He's a big, strong, physical forward with a good skill level, impressive hockey IQ, and an above-average shot. Jaskin isn't the quickest player, but with his combination of skill and great physical attributes, he could be a quality power winger in the NHL. St. Louis is a very good team but could use a little more offense, which Jaskin could potentially provide this upcoming season.
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