I apologize for the lack of an update yesterday. Unfortunately my laptop has crashed and doesn’t look like it will be fixed anytime soon. So the family computer is my only tool for writing right now. So I’ll be posting as much as possible but they might be more spread apart.
Anyway, lets get back to work. We’ve already broken down the first line as well as the second line. Like I said in the last article, this one might surprise you. With a mixture of Andy McDonald, David Backes, Matt D’Agostini, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, and Chris Stewart in the top six, the Blues have a very offensive top two lines. However, the third line could also add it’s fair share of offensive production.
Down the middle, rounding out the three big bodied centers is recently signed veteran, Jason Arnott. Arnott had a down year last year and many say it’s just the way he’s declining, but you also have to consider the team he played for last year as well. Before being traded to Washington, Arnott was playing for the New Jersey Devils. You know that team that was at the bottom of the barrel for the better half of the season last year. He’s been a solid 20 goal, 20-30 assist man the last few seasons and even if he adds just 20 & 20 next season, he serves her purpose as a solid third line center who can play both sides of the puck.
Arnott was brought in to add leadership, and though he wasn’t given an alternates ‘A’, he will be able to mentor those players on his line, and that’s exactly why the Blues added him. We know he has leadership as he’s captain the Nashville Predators for the better half of four seasons. Wearing an ‘A’ in Dallas and New Jersey. The 36 year old center will have an impact in St. Louis.
On the wing is 27 year old forward, Alexander Steen. Steen, who was acquired by the Blues in a trade (along with Carlo Colaiacovo) in exchange for Lee Stempniak, has put up back-to-back 20 goal seasons for St. Louis. His 31 assists scored last season was a career high. This year he’ll get the chance of playing with duo of big, strong offensive players, as well as getting powerplay time. I see a good offensive year for Steen this year.
Something else Steen adds is his two-way ability. His ability to play the penalty kill is also a large asset. His vision and skating ability allow him to be exactly where he needs to be on the ice.
Now I could round out this line with fellow veteran Jamie Langenbrunner and just be done with it, but I have a different inkling as to who rounds out this line, and he’s much younger than Langenbrunner.
Evgeny Grachev, 21, was acquired by St. Louis this past year at the draft from the New York Rangers, the Blues gained a big powerforward, with a ton of offensive skill.
Watching Grachev in New York, you could see the skill that Grachev possessed. Watching him in the informal practices at the Mill here in St. Louis, his talent is evident. His size is out of this world. Easily the biggest player out on the ice. With a bigger frame than David Backes, Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund, Grachev easily has an NHL frame.
Now what I see getting him this spot is the offensive ability that he posses. He was a dominant scorer in juniors and many believe he turned pro a season to early, and it showed in his first season and part of his second. That said however, in the second half of last season, you could see Grachev really starting to pick up his play.
This move would force one of Scott Nichol or BJ Crombeen out of the line up, but I’ll focus on that when I break down the fourth line tomorrow.
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Topics: Alexander Steen, Andy McDonald, BJ Crombeen, Carlo Colaiacovo, Chris Stewart, Dallas Stars, David Backes, Evgeny Grachev, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Lee Stempniak, Matt D'Agostini, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Patrik Berglund, Scott Nichol, St. Louis Blues Roster, TJ Oshie