A defensively-oriented and balanced team, the St. Louis Blues don't have mass fantasy appeal, but a little digging does present opportunities to find players that have fantasy appeal.
Top Picks: There is such balance throughout the Blues lineup that there are few standouts, particularly for fantasy purposes.
As such, their most valuable players, compared to others at the same position, are defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Pietrangelo is a Norris Trophy contender who plays 25 minutes per game, and his 118 points over the last three seasons ranks eighth among defencemen. He's also just 23, so his upside does make Pietrangelo a viable No. 1 fantasy blueliner.
Shattenkirk isn't quite at Pietrangelo's level, but has 109 points over the last three years and plays about 21 minutes per game. He's also scored 42 of his 109 career points on the power play, so he's a solid No. 2 defenceman in fantasy.
Value Plays: At his best, C David Backes is fantasy gold, providing a rare combination of goals and penalty minutes. Since 2008-2009, he's one of three to score at least 100 goals with at least 500 penalty minutes. He's also a hitter, with 863 hits recorded over the last four seasons. This sounds wonderful, but Backes also scored just six goals last season, with a career-low shooting percentage (6.0%), so he could have value on draft day.
C Derek Roy hasn't been the same player since suffering a quad injury in 2010-2011. He was scoring at a point-per-game pace (35 points in 35 games) that season, but has 72 points in 122 games since. He should get a serious offensive opportunity for a Blues team that needs skill and could, effectively, use Roy to replace retired Andy McDonald.
C Patrik Berglund is a talented player with good size who has been up-and-down throughout his five-year NHL career. His 58 goals over the last three seasons ranks 61st and scored at a career-best rate (0.35 gpg) last season, but he also scored on 23.0% of his shots last year, an impossible-to-sustain number, so regression is on its way, unless Berglund creates a lot more chances.
Consistency has been the hallmark of LW Alexander Steen's game in St. Louis. Since 2008-2009, he's averaged between 0.65 and 0.71 points per game, playing more than 19 minutes per game over the last three seasons. As a No. 3 left winger, what he lacks in upside, he makes up for with stability.
RW T. J. Oshie is similarly consistent, between 0.63 and 0.69 points per game in each of his five NHL seasons, but one of his other calling cards is missing time with injuries, missing at least 18 games three times in five seasons, including last season. Oshie has never scored 20 goals of 55 points in a season, but those numbers would be within his grasp if he stayed healthy.
Sleepers/Breakthrough: The Blues' leading scorer last year, RW Chris Stewart is still somewhat of a sleeper considering that last season's 36 points in 48 games beat his point total (30) in 79 games the year before. He's a high-percentage shooter, who needs more consistency to earn the trust of the coaching staff; he's played under 16 minutes per game in the last two seasons.
After bursting onto the scene with 10 points in his first eight games last season, RW Vladimir Tarasenko faded quickly and missed time with a concussion. If he's healthy and in shape, Tarasenko has offensive skills that should not only translate to production, but earn him a bigger role with the Blues.
Goaltending was supposed to be a strength of the Blues going into last season, considering they had the league's best goals against average in 2011-2012, but Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak struggled and, with Halak getting hurt, Jake Allen even took the crease for a time. With a strong finish to the year, including a 1.28 goals against average and .948 save percentage in 13 April games, Elliott may have the edge going into this season, but if either one emerges as a starter, they will have value. It's just a matter of figuring out which one.
In deep leagues, D Jay Bouwmeester could have appeal. He pretty much lost fantasy value in Calgary, but with a better Blues team, Bouwmeester could score enough, and maybe even have a half-decent plus-minus, so that he's useful in fantasy leagues.
Rookies: The Blues have a lot of veterans up front and coach Ken Hitchcock isn't terribly forviging of the defensive mistakes that young players typically make, so the safe bet would be that none of the Blues rookies will put up big points, but wingers Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie do have scoring potential.
Jaskin had 99 points in 51 QMJHL games last season, while Rattie fniished his WHL career with back-to-back seasons with more than 100 points.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.