LW Paul Kariya, G Chris Mason, LW Keith Tkachuk
EVERY SO OFTEN a team needs to turn the page on its past and start writing a new chapter. For the Blues, who lost veterans Keith Tkachuk to retirement and Paul Kariya to injury (postconcussion syndrome), that time is now. "It's up to our guys who have been waiting patiently and learning as they went"—first-rounders such as forwards T.J. Oshie and David Perron and defenseman Erik Johnson—"to step out of the nest and spread their wings," says coach Davis Payne, who took over at midseason and guided the Blues to a 23-15-4 finish.
In addition to the youngsters St. Louis will look to forwards Brad Boyes (above) and David Backes to rebound from down years and regain their 30-goal form, and for new goalie Jaroslav Halak, last year's playoff revelation with Montreal, to pick up where he left off. At 25, Halak rounds out a group that G.M. Doug Armstrong hopes can grow together and deliver success for years to come.
"With all the high draft picks we had [over the last few years] we'd be foolish not to build around that," Armstrong says.
Barry Trotz (12th season)