The St. Louis Blues would be wise to remember Missouri's unofficial state nickname.
After a third consecutive first-round playoff exit, the only NHL team based in the Show-Me State needs to do exactly that in 2015-16. The Blues have no shortage of skill, but not much to show for it.
St. Louis has eclipsed 100 points in back-to-back regular seasons but the Blues haven't advanced past the opening round since 2011-12, when Ken Hitchcock took over.
"This is unfinished business to me," the head coach said in May after signing a one-year contract extension. "I don't want to coach to coach. I want to coach to win."
General manager Doug Armstrong gave Hitchcock the one-year deal in May after a failed pursuit of Mike Babcock. The short-term commitment should provide the coach with a sense of urgency in his quest to get the Blues over the first-round hump.
Changes to the roster were expected, but they mostly came in the form of minor tweaks. Shootout wizard T.J. Oshie was dealt to the Washington Capitals for a package including Troy Brouwer, adding some size to the Blues' second line.
Armstrong re-signed goaltender Jake Allen and winger Dmitrij Jaskin, while bringing in a slew of free-agent depth including forwards Kyle Brodziak and Justin Hodgman along with defensemen Chris Butler, Peter Harrold, and Andre Benoit.
The crease remains a concern, as Allen and starter Brian Elliott ranked 26th and 16th, respectively, in even-strength save percentage among qualified goaltenders last season.
Patrik Berglund could be out until late December after aggravating a shoulder injury, opening the door for Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall, a pair of veterans attending training camp on tryout contracts. It also creates an opportunity for the 22-year-old Jaskin, who scored 13 goals in 54 games last season.
|Alex Steen||David Backes||Vladimir Tarasenko|
|Jaden Schwartz||Paul Stastny||Troy Brouwer|
|Steve Ott||Jori Lehtera||Dmitrij Jaskin|
|Robby Fabbri||Kyle Brodziak||Ryan Reaves|
|Jay Bouwmeester||Alex Pietrangelo|
|Carl Gunnarsson||Kevin Shattenkirk|
|Chris Butler||Robert Bortuzzo|
The 29-year-old center had a disappointing debut season with the Blues. He scored 16 goals and added 30 assists, one year after notching 25 goals and 35 assists in his final season with the Colorado Avalanche.
Stastny's inconsistency was uncharacteristic for a player who hit the 70-point mark three times during a four-year span in Denver. If he can click regularly with the dynamic Jaden Schwartz and new linemate Brouwer, St. Louis will have one of the league's most productive top-six forward groups.
The future could become the present if Robby Fabbri has his way.
St. Louis' 2014 first-round pick hopes to make the club out of training camp after narrowly missing an opportunity to crack the roster last fall.
He impressed the club in last year's camp but suffered a preseason injury and spent most of the season with the OHL's Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games.
The 19-year-old appears ready to make the leap after three years of junior hockey, but the Blues are well stocked down the middle, so they can afford to send him back to junior if he fails to crack the NHL roster this fall.