We are now well into the roster breakdowns as we wrapped up the forwards yesterday by looking out the wildcards for making the roster out of camp. For complete coverage thus far for our breakdowns, line-by-line, here you go (first, second, third, fourth, extras).
Now we’re looking at the defensive pairings and who could potentially match up with who.
The Blues have added even more depth this year to their defensive core with the additions of Kent Huskins, Danny Syvret, and to a lesser extent, David Shields, Brett Ponich, and Cade Fairchild. The latter three turning pro after careers in juniors and college.
But most of those names will reside with the Peoria Rivermen this season, and won’t get a sniff at top pairing time this season.
The first name shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. Alex Pietrangelo will be the star defensemen on this team for many years and was the number one defensemen for the Blues last season. Much will be expected of him and he’ll be the number one D for St. Louis for a long time.
Pietrangelo spent his first full season with the St. Louis Blues and had a very successful season. His 11 goals and 32 assists gave him a team high (tied with Kevin Shattenkirk, another rookie) with a team high 43 points from the back-end.
Alex, only 21, will be expected to be the Blues best defensemen again this season. His offensive capabilities along with his ability to play a good shut down game give the Blues options for Pietrangelo on the powerplay and penalty killing unit. He’ll be the quarterback of the first unit and will play the PK as well.
Now finding a pair for Pietrangelo isn’t as easy as the Blues would have hoped. Many fans expected the Blues to try and swing a deal for a top pairing left-handed defensemen this off-season to match up with the upcoming defensive stud. They however did not so it’ll be up to either Barret Jackman, Nikita Nikitin, or Carlo Colaiacovo to stand in at that position. Ian Cole is expected to grow into that roll after time but he’ll likely spend this season in the American Hockey League.
My pick to line up with Pietrangelo is the former first round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carlo Colaiacovo.
Now many will question this, but when these two were paired together last season, we got to see the best hockey both Colaiacovo and Pietrangelo played all year.
Colaiacovo, when healthy, has shown he can put up 25-30 points and play a solid defensive game as well. He can be a top-4 defensemen, but the only thing really stopping him from that is his being so prone to injury. The Blues are hoping to see Carlo healthy and producing on the blueline.
Carlo Colaiacovo was acquired along with forward Alexander Steen in exchange for Lee Stempniak back in 2008. In his time in St. Louis, Carlo has 195 games over three parts of three seasons with St. Louis. In that time, he’s posted 16 goals, 71 assists for 87 points with the Blues
Not only does he add an offensive touch on the ice, he’s also shown he can play a fairly solid physical game as well. He’s very solid on his skates and can lay some heavy hits. He also does well for himself when he needs to drop the gloves as well. I doubt we see as much of that this season as he’ll be wearing a shield full time this season after taking two pucks to the face last season.
Something about being paired with Pietrangelo brings out the best in Carlo’s game. Something tells me that Blues head coach, Davis Payne, will want to see if they can continue their chemistry into this season.
Tomorrow we’ll be breaking down the second pairing in which we’ll see a two big bodies line up with one another.
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