With the 2013 NHL season just days away, I thought it would be nice to take a look around the St. Louis Blues roster and highlight some of the players that fans should keep an eye on this season.
Last season T.J. Oshie was given a “prove it” contract from GM Doug Armstrong, and Oshie did just that. Playing in 80 gmaes last season, Oshie tied for the most points on the St. Louis Blues with 54. In that season, Oshie netted 19 goals and 35 assists, impressive numbers on a team that struggled offensively all of last season. In the offseason Oshie was rewarded for his work and was given a five year contract. A fan favorite, now with the Blues for the next five season, Oshie really needs to step up and show the city of St. Louis and Coach Hitchcock that he has what it takes to be a first line player all season. The chemistry that Oshie had with Backes last season signaled that the St. Louis Blues had finally found the dominant first line that they were looking for and gave hope to many that the team was on their way to growing up and becoming a powerhouse again in the Western Conference. I expect that Oshie and his line mates will be seeing a lot of ice time this year and the younger players on this team should have the energy to keep up with the pace of a shortened season. While last year Oshie proved himself, this year he should make a name for himself.
Much like T.J. Oshie, David Perron just signed a five year contract with the St. Louis Blues and will be looking to become an even bigger part of the Blues team. If not for a concussion at the hand of a thug named Thorton, David Perron would be a much more well recognized name in the NHL, but without a full season to truly prove himself, David Perron is still floating a bit under the radar. In 2010-11, the St. Louis Blues thought that Perron was going to be a huge part of their lineup. In the first 10 games of the season Perron scored 5 goals and had a total of 7 points, but in that 10th game Perron took a massive shot to the head and it was literally lights out for his season. Perron spent months and months in specialized research centers, working with specialists, trying to find any way he could to get back to the game of hockey. He would lose the rest of that 2010-11 season and the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Perron’s first game back would be against the Blackhawks though, and he would net his first goal of the season in that comeback. Last year, playing in 57 games oddly enough, Perron scored 21 goals and managed 21 assists good for 47 points. That is just 7 points shy of the team lead that both David Backes and T.J. Oshie scored, but they both played in 20 more games. The potential of Perron to have a huge season is one that is almost certain. Look for Perron to be shooting, scoring, and setting up unbelievable plays this year and beyond.
With Ian Cole becoming a part of the St. Louis Blues starting lineup, there will be a lot more pressure on the young blueliner. In order for him to be sucessful he just needs to keep on doing what he has been doing the past couple of years. This season with the AHL Peoria Rivermen, Cole has proven that he can be the defenseman that a team relies on. While he will not be asked to have such a large role when up with the St. Louis Blues, Cole is going to have to make the most of his surroundings and really prove that he is NHL caliber. In his previous NHL stints, Cole has looked poised and ready to take on the challenges of playing in the NHL and he will be working to prove it this season. Look for Cole to be a part of the Blues team that you won’t be ignoring.
Jaroslav Halak is still best known for his amazing playoff run with Monteal a few years back, but is starting to make a name for himself in St. Louis as well. Last season the tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak allowed the fewest goals against and won the William H. Jennings Trophy. Halak had moment of brilliance last season and showed that he deserves to be the starting goalie for the Blues and most likely will be for the near future. The problem seems to be Halak’s confidence as Coach Ken Hitchcock often said that competing against Elliott for starts and stats made him a better goalie. With the odds of being as great as last season almost impossible, Halak needs to have a great season to show that he does deserve the number one spot and to solidify himself to the fanbase and NHL alike that he is the goalie for the St. Louis Blues. I would look to Halak to share starts, but to make the most of his opportunities. The playoffs will be the real test though as Halak was injured in the first round last season and did not return in time to help the Blues possibly fend off the Los Angeles Kings.
Readers of this blog will have no problem understand why Vladimir Tarasenko is on this list. One of the best prospects in the entire world, the wait for Tarasenko to enter the NHL has been a long one for Blues fans. The young player has the potential to be a superstar and the first natural goal scorer the franchise can boast since the days of Brett Hull. Like Hull, Tarasenko plays on the right side and has a knack for finding the opening spots on net. A much needed boost to the Blues offensive play, Tarasenko has the potential to take a lot of opponents by surprise. With really only Justin Schultz standing in the way of a Calder Trophy, I think everyone is looking forward to number 91, Hull’s number upside down by the way, to take the ice in the blue note for the first time. January 19th will be a special day for Tarasenko and the Blues alike, let’s just hope he can adapt to the smaller ice and more physical play.
So who do you think will have a big season for the St. Louis Blues? Will Backes be able to hit 30 goals again even if it is a shortened season? Will the Blues goaltending tandem excel? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. That is all for now Blues fans and as always, LET’S GO BLUES!