With the NHL Lockout continuing on St. Louis Blues fans may be losing interest quickly. In a market where there is little attention paid to hockey outside of when the team is winning, it is hard to know what effect this work stoppage will have on the fans.
This is not true however as to the effect it may have on the players. While fans are locked out of Scottrade and we see our tickets being refunded, some of the Blues elite players are continuing to hone their crafts, just in other leagues.
For years now I have been following the development of Vladimir Tarasenko like many other Blues fans. If you are like me then you have searched his name almost every day for the last few years to get any updates you could, but were hard pressed to find any quality information. One of the benefits of this lockout has been the increased attention that the KHL has been getting in the NHL’s absence, and with it, more attention being paid to Tarasenko.
While it is obvious that Vladi is going to be a star in the NHL, it is hard to tell exactly where his development is at. Currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg, Tarasenko has been sharing minutes with Ilya Kovalchuck and other top members of the SKA squad. Preforming best when matched with the Devils superstar, Tarasenko has managed to put up 10 goals and 9 assists in just 13 games played so far. The promise he has shown is one that will compete for the Calder trophy once the NHL season does start, but he will be competing with another talented Russian, Nail Yakupov. While Vladi is managing to stay ahead of most KHL players, who knows how he will fare on the smaller ice and playing against much more skilled defensemen.
In the Czech Extraliga league, Chris Stewart has begun play with to play with Liberec which has proved more difficult for Stewart. After showing brilliance in the first few months of his Blues career, all of us Blues fans were crushed watching his first full season in St. Louis. While Stewart struggled to find his spot on the roster, the team excelled without his help. He signed a one year deal in the offseason that is sort of a test contract and it will be interesting to see how he does in the NHL. He had been reportedly working harder than ever in the offseason and was said to be in the best shape of his life. When he and friend Wayne Simmonds first went to Europe to play for ETC Crimmitschau of the Eishockey-Bundesliga, Stewart became one of the top scorers in that league. Let’s hope that he regains his form and is able to excel in the Czech as well.
One of the best stories of this lockout has been Patrik Berglund’s venture back to Västerås, the club he called home before joining the St. Louis Blues. Berglund agreed to play for free during the lockout to give back to the team that had helped him make the NHL. So far, Berglund has been able to post 16 points in his first 15 games. Berglund is a player that seems to go through streaks in St. Louis and is sometimes a valuable asset while others appears to be sluggish. The hope is that Berglund would develop into a top 6 player and be as consistent as the potential the Blues have seen in him.
Closer to home, Jake Allen has showed that he may not be ready for the spotlight in Peoria. Two years ago many would have argued that Allen would one day be the number one in St. Louis with a long wait ahead of him, but the young goalie seems to have lost some of his ability that many saw in him before. Peoria is off to a horrible 2-5-2 start to the season with Allen allowing 30 goals to date. Let’s hope this young prospect can regain form and lead the Rivermen to a winning season.
That is all for now but check back for more Blues news as we move forward, and, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!