The Blues’ 2016-2017 season starts on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, and heading into this year the Blues have more questions than answers. Key vets such as Troy Brouwer, Brian Elliott, and former captain David Backes left in free agency or trade. Carter Hutton was added to back up Jake Allen, and has turned in a solid pre-season so far. Vladimir Sobotka is still in the KHL.
So, what are the three biggest questions facing the Blues this season?
1. Can Jake Allen become an elite starting goaltender?
Hopefully, yes. Allen played well last season despite injury, going 26-15-4 and posting a 2.35 GAA and a .920 save percentage. He has the experience now to be a starter, and will have to get used to starting a majority of the games rather than splitting time with Brian Elliott.
2. Is this roster physical enough to compete in the Central Division?
It’s still big and bruising, with Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko policing the blueline, but from there it’s unsure if the Blues will continue their reputation as being one of the more physical teams in the division. Robby Fabbri is not a big guy, and let’s just all admit that we don’t want any of the top nine hurting themselves throwing a body check.
Ryan Reaves, Kyle Brodziak, and Scotty Upshall are still around on the fourth line, but it’s hard to deny that with the loss of Backes and Brouwer the top nine did get less physical.
3. Will Parayko and Fabbri slump or succeed in their sophomore seasons?
They’ll succeed. Why? Because sophomore slumps aren’t a thing unless you let them be a thing. Based on his play for Team North America, Parayko looks to be in form for the season, and Fabbri has tremendous upside.