The St. Louis Blues off-season moves greatly impacted the team during the regular season. And those additions are continuing to have a positive impact throughout the Blues impressive playoff run. The moves included bringing in four forwards who have impacted the team in different ways. Those players are Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Pat Maroon, and Tyler Bozak.
All four of those players have made contributions to the team, especially in the playoffs. Whether it is scoring goals or playing big minutes for the team, every player has stepped up in some way. And it could help the Blues get their first ever Stanley Cup.
— NHL (@NHL) May 25, 2019
Blues Off-Season Moves Paying Off in Playoffs
When talking about the Blues off-season moves, the biggest focus has to be on the trade to acquire Ryan O’Reilly. He was traded from the Buffalo Sabres hours before he was set to earn a $7.5M signing bonus. And he was at a point in his career where he had lost his love for the game.
After a career-high 77-point season and a Selke nomination, it’s clear that the love is back for O’Reilly. He finished atop the team in points during the regular season, second in playoff scoring thus far. The only player ahead of him is Jaden Schwartz, who has been a huge spark for the Blues.
O’Reilly isn’t doing too bad himself. While second in points, he is first among all forwards in ice time. He sits at 407.1 minutes, 46.62 minutes more than the next forward in Brayden Schenn. During the regular season, O’Reilly finished as the top forward in faceoffs, having won 1,086. He has won the second most during the playoffs with 229. He’s likely to hit number one as Tomas Hertl is no longer in the playoffs.
He currently sits seventh between the two final teams in faceoff percentage. There were times early on where O’Reilly was struggling in the faceoff dot. While the percentage is unusual for him, he has been able to contribute in other areas as well.
According to Corsica Hockey, O’Reilly is averaging about 1.86 points per game during the playoffs. That ranks third on the Blues. His 14 points are tied for fifth in the playoffs. He could potentially climb higher as four players above him were eliminated previously. And this comes in O’Reilly first chance past the first round of the playoffs.
This is not David Perron’s first stint with the Blues. In fact, it is not his second time in a Blues uniform either. Perron joined the team for the third time this past off-season. He was coming off a career-high 66-point season with the Vegas Golden Knights. Perron was drafted by Vegas during the expansion draft. Coincidentally, he came from the Blues before that.
Calling his season with the Knights the “best year of my life,” Perron then signed a four-year deal with the Blues in the off-season. It came after discussions had seemingly stalled with Vegas. He would go on to score the third most goals in his career. It was the first time he had scored 20+ goals since the 2013-14 season.
Perron has the third most goals on the Blues during the playoffs. His six playoff goals are the most he has scored during his career, breaking a previous high of just one goal. The 13 points are also a playoff high for him.
Perron is one of four players on the Blues to have experience playing in the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, Perron was in this spot just a year ago with Vegas. But he is healthier this time around and that has been key for the Blues.
Pat Maroon essentially bet on himself when he signed a one-year deal with the Blues. He wanted to play for his hometown team and reportedly took a discount to do so. Wanting to be with his son, Maroon has been a feel-good story this season.
Goals are not something Maroon is typically known for. He did score 27 goals during the 2016-27 season, the only time he broke the 20-goal mark. His 10 goals during the regular season won’t paint the picture. It’s what he has been able to do during the playoffs.
The seven total points aren’t where one focuses on Maroon’s contribution. His ability to step up in the biggest moments has the Blues where they are right now. Two of his three goals have been game-winners.
The biggest moment came in one of the biggest games for the Blues thus far. It was double overtime in game seven of the series against the Dallas Stars. Ben Bishop had played almost lights out. A faceoff won by Bozak and a shot taken by Robert Thomas ended with Maroon pushing the puck past Bishop. It sent the Blues to the Western Conference Finals.
Tyler Bozak can’t wait to play with the Blues.
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) July 3, 2018
Tyler Bozak knew what he was getting into when he signed a three-year contract with the Blues. He came to the team knowing they had a chance to do something special. But this lengthy amount of time in the playoffs is new to Bozak. With the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bozak had seen the playoffs three times. The Leafs were eliminated in the first round all three times.
Finally seeing past the first round, Bozak has been impressive for the Blues. His 10 points are fifth among forwards, sixth overall. Bozak also has two game-winning goals for the Blues.
With fellow newcomer Pat Maroon and rookie Robert Thomas, Bozak has centred one of the Blues best lines during the playoffs. His 52.3 faceoff percentage is fourth among centres remaining in the playoffs. It is second among Blues centres. He has taken the sixth most faceoffs among all centres during the playoffs. He is second behind O’Reilly on the Blues.
Teams need depth when they make it this far in the playoffs. And Bozak is helping with his contributions from the third line.
Blues Off-Season Moves Key for Doug Armstrong
Doug Armstrong earned himself a nomination for the general manager of the year after this past season. And acquiring those four players is a big reason why. They have each contributed in their own way.
And against a high-powered Boston Bruins offence, the four will have to continue to prove their worth. And Tuukka Rask won’t make that an easy task for them either. If these four, among others, are able to keep contributing, the Blues have a chance.
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