The St. Louis Blues are in a transition, as the old guard is inching closer to passing the torch, and their young core struggle to reach high enough to grasp it. As such, this season will be another where Blues management have brought in a motley crew of elder statesmen to fill gaps and help the team compete for a Cup, while waiting for their young vanguard to break through. FORWARDS Pre-season line-up Martin St. Louis – Jeff Carter – Daniel Alfredsson Erik Cole – Joe Thornton – Jordon Eberle Vaclav Prospal – Lars Eller – Cal Clutterbuck Erik Nystrom – Tim Connolly – Michael Frolik Spares: Kyle Chipchura, Jared Boll, Derek Grant, Cory Cowick, Jamie Devane Prospects: Johan Larsson, Reilly Smith, Mark Stone, Stefan Noesen, Nicolas Kerdiles, Shane Prince, Charles Hudon, Matthew Puempel, William Karlsson, Sebastian Collberg, Anthony Duclair, Gemel Smith, Jeremy Gregoire, Vincent Dunn, Blake Coleman, Cedric Paquette, Victor Tikhonov On the ice this season, the Blues will boast a formidable line-up with considerable depth and firepower. It is their best forward crew in many years, mostly due to the addition of St. Louis. However, five of the Blues top nine forwards are 34 years or older, with Alfredsson, Prospal and Cole likely seeing their last season with the Blues. Alfredsson has been a staple on the team for over 10 years, and his void will be a large one. Thornton and St. Louis seem likely to play at least another year, but they are in the twilight of their careers, as well. The good news for the Blues is their prospect group is completely overloaded with forwards, with their top 10 prospects all playing up front. They can’t arrive soon enough, as there are only a handful of core younger forwards on the roster right now the team plans to build around, specifically; Carter, Eberle, Clutterbuck and Frolik. DEFENCE Pre-season line-up Zdeno Chara – Roman Josi Dustin Byfuglien – Marc Staal Andrew MacDonald – Erik Gustafsson Spares: Andre Benoit, Tomas Kundratek, Ian Cole Prospects: Adam Pelech, Konrod Albethauser, Will Butcher, Maxim Goncharov, Zakhar Arazmatsev, Nicolai Zaitsev On the ice, the Blues will have an elite blue-line once again, despite the loss of Chris Pronger to long-term injury. The 6th spot is a bit of a weakness with neither Gustafsson nor Benoit seemingly ready for prime time, but there is decent depth with four solid d-men vying for that 6th spot. Chara and Byfuglien will obviously anchor the top two pairings, regadless of how things shake out. The good news on D is the core is set for the long-term, with Chara being the only defender of the nine on the pro roster over the age of 30, and big Z is seemingly nowhere near the end of his career. Josi, Staal and MacDonald all have their best hockey ahead of them, while Cole, Gustafsson and Kundratek all bring something different to the table long-term. The bad news is the D cupboard is almost completely bare, with only three viable D prospects, and three other Russians who are unlikely to ever leave the KHL. While the Blues can afford to be patient in restocking the back end, the replenishment needs to start happening sooner rather than later. GOAL Jimmy Howard Jhonas Enroth Minors: David Leggio Prospects: Joni Ortio, Michael Houser, Matthieu Corbeil The Blues are well positioned in goal, with Howard signed long-term and Enroth just set to enter his prime. At 29 and 25 years, respectively, they both have a lot of hockey left in the tank. This is a good thing, because the Blues really just hold a few ‘suspects’ in goal, with Ortio and Houser both being intriguing, but still high risk. Corbeil has struggled as a pro thus far, and could be let go if he doesn’t turn things around in the offseason. None of these three is close to the NHL level at this point, although Ortio is likely the closest. OUTLOOK The Blues will once again compete with the other elite teams in the Western Conference while they look to establish a few new rivalries with the division shake-ups, and the departure of the Jackets and Wings to the East. The arrival of the Avalanche in particular, should make for a new and hotly contested division rivalry.