The Blues played last season without David Backes and Troy Brouwer and somehow the franchise didn’t fold.
That’s being facetious, of course. But after the club failed to re-sign the pair of power forwards, many worried last summer how the offense would cope.
The Blues came out OK, averaging slightly more goals per game last season (2.84) compared with 2015-16 (2.67). They jumped four spots in the NHL rankings, to No. 11, and actually had as many double-digit scorers (eight) as they did a year earlier.
But in assessing the Blues’ situation at forward, they might have gotten the job done as a whole without Backes and Brouwer, but there are holes.
The team lacked a true front-of-the-net presence, making the group entirely too perimeter-oriented. And with inconsistent performances from many of their top producers, the goal-scoring was wildly unpredictable.
“That’s where the goals are coming from,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “You look at Ryan Reaves, not that he’s a goal scorer, but he hung around that area this year and got rewarded a little bit more. When you drive the net, you have a better chance to score.”
The absence of that presence led to uncertainty as to what to expect from the Blues, who four times during the regular season followed a five-goal game with one goal or none. And it led to some uncertainty as to whom the club could count on.
Patrik Berglund was one of the eight double-digit scorers, with 23 goals, but had just one in his first 30 games. Jaden Schwartz was another, with 19 goals, but had just one in a 25-game stretch.
Robby Fabbri had none in the first 12 games of the season, though he scored 11 before his season-ending knee injury.
“Fortunately for us, (the droughts) all came at different times,” Armstrong said. “When Robby was off to a difficult start,…