Although the weather doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour and spotlight one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
With much of the active roster producing at or above their expected levels in 2013-14, the St. Louis Blues, who narrowly missed out on a Central Division title, are at risk of seeing many of their key contributors take steps back this season. While a late-season swoon from trade deadline pickup Ryan Miller kept the team from a first-round matchup with the Minnesota Wild, the Blues instead wasted the blistering performances of the likes of Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and others as they fell in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
Accordingly, it is no surprise that VUKOTA sees many of the top Blues skaters falling this season to levels more commensurate with their historical records. To maintain their lofty divisional contender status, St. Louis will need the addition of stud center Paul Stastny to make up for the general downturn among his new teammates and for the new goalie tandem of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen to outperform the past season's tandems of Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, and later, Elliott and Miller.
Trending Up: Magnus Paajarvi, LW
Last season: 0.7 GVT
VUKOTA Projection: 2.5 GVT