Blues looking to Buchnevich to help boost offense, penalty kill

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After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the St. Louis Blues:

2020-21 season: 27-20-9, fourth in Honda West Division; lost in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Pavel Buchnevich, F: The 26-year-old was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on July 23 for forward Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Buchnevich, who agreed to a four-year contract with the Blues four days later, scored 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games last season and was tied for fourth in the NHL with three shorthanded goals … Brandon Saad, F: The 28-year-old, who signed a five-year contract July 29, scored 24 points (15 goals, nine assists) in 44 regular-season games and eight points (seven goals, one assist) in 10 playoff games for the Colorado Avalanche last season. He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Chicago Blackhawks (2013, 2015). 

Key departures

Jaden Schwartz, F: He signed a five-year contract with the Seattle Kraken on July 28 after playing 10 seasons with the Blues. Schwartz scored 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 40 regular-season games and did not have a point in four playoff games last season, and helped St. Louis win its first Stanley Cup championship in 2019. … Vince Dunn, D: The Kraken selected the 24-year-old in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21, then reached an agreement on a two-year contract Aug. 6, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. Dunn scored 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) and averaged 19:15 in ice time in 43 games last season. … Mike Hoffman, F: He agreed to a three-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on July 28 after scoring 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 52 regular-season games and one goal in four playoff games last season. … Tyler Bozak, F: The 35-year-old is an unrestricted free agent. Bozak, who spent the past three seasons with the Blues after nine with the Toronto Maple Leafs, scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 31 regular-season games and two points (one goal, one assist) in four playoff games last season. … Sammy Blais, F: He scored 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 36 regular-season games and one goal in four playoff games last season. … Carl Gunnarsson, D: The 34-year-old retired June 23, ending a 12-season NHL career. He didn’t play after Feb. 22 because of a knee injury. Gunnarsson had two assists in 12 games last season and 138 points (30 goals, 108 assists) in 629 NHL games with the Maple Leafs and Blues. 

On the cusp

Klim Kostin, F: The 22-year-old, who was the No. 31 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, had one assist in two games for the Blues last season and scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 43 games with Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. He scored one goal in four games with the Blues in 2019-20. … Dakota Joshua, F: The 25-year-old made his NHL debut last season and scored one goal in 12 games. He also scored three points (two goals, one assist) in six games with Utica of the American Hockey League. … Scott Perunovich, D: The 22-year-old played three seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth and won the Hobey Baker Award voted as the top men’s player in NCAA ice hockey in 2020. He did not play last season after having shoulder surgery but is expected to be healthy for this season. 

What they still need

A trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko. The forward requested a trade through his agent May 25, but the Blues have yet to find a destination that meets the requirements of both sides. That could result in Tarasenko playing in St. Louis this season, but the optimal situation seems to be finding a new home for the 29-year-old, who has two seasons remaining on an eight-year contract he signed July 7, 2015. Tarasenko has been limited to 34 regular-season games the past two seasons, including 24 last season, when he scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists). Tarasenko has had surgery three times on his left shoulder since the end of the 2017-18 season. 

They said it

“I’m excited to have Pavel [Buchnevich] join our group. … He’s got good size at 6-foot-3. He is a left shot, can play the right side. He’s scored in the League recently. He’s 26 years old. … A very good penalty killer too, a very underrated penalty killer. So he’s going to touch all aspects of our game and he’s at a good age as we continue to retool this roster, and I think he’s a good piece for us.” — general manager Doug Armstrong

Fantasy focus

Buchnevich is coming off a breakout fantasy season, scoring an NHL career-high 48 points (tied with David Pastrnak of Boston Bruins for 18th among NHL wings) in 54 games playing mostly right wing on the Rangers top line with center Mika Zibanejad. Now Buchnevich could form chemistry with another valuable center in Ryan O’Reilly and remain a fringe top 100 fantasy player. — Pete Jensen

Projected lineup

Brandon Saad — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron

Pavel Buchnevich — Brayden Schenn — Vladimir Tarasenko

Klim Kostin — Robert ThomasJordan Kyrou

Zach SanfordIvan BarbashevOskar Sundqvist

Torey KrugColton Parayko

Marco ScandellaJustin Faulk

Niko MikkolaRobert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso

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