St. Louis Blues Young Players Not Ready To Fly On Their Own


The St. Louis Blues have quite a few talented prospects coming through their system for the future. The 2017 preseason has shown that the future is not quite here yet.

The St. Louis Blues took on the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road on Tuesday. Things did not exactly go to plan for the team as they played a squad of mostly prospects for one final time.

With only two preseason games remaining, this might have been the last time an entire team of kids would be assembled. Given the result, that might be a good thing.

Normally, this is where the pros and cons would be discussed. Since I was unable to actually watch the game myself, we’ll take a more generalist view of the entire situation.

The Blues have several quality players coming through their system. We have talked at length about how exciting guys like Klim Kostin or Tage Thompson or Robert Thomas are. The team remains high on guys like Jake Walman.

As individuals, they all possess skills and talents that will benefit the team in the future. Some might even benefit the Blues very much this season.

Through this preseason, one thing has become very clear though. These guys are not ready to fly solo yet.

They are not ready to lead a team by themselves. All of them can be good supplemental players, but they are not ready to lead without the veterans around.

For two straight games, when the roster was made up of 60% or more of purely rookies, the Blues have been taken to school. There was the home preseason loss to Dallas 4-0 and then a 5-2 loss to Columbus.

Some might point to the goaltender, as Blues fans love to do, however the defense did very little to give any aid. The offense was asleep for far too long and then couldn’t do enough once the scoring started in those games as well.

Walman, in particular, has not been good enough of late. He will be a fine puck mover, but his defensive skills need a good polish for him to be ready for the NHL.

By no means did the Blues lose to Columbus based on his play alone. However, he was a minus-3, meaning he was on the ice for at least three of the Blue Jackets’ goals.

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The same can be said of Thomas, Wade Megan (who was just talked up in a recent article) and Jordan Kyrou. Defensively, none of these guys or any of the blue liners has shown enough just yet.

Offensively, the prospects look fine. Thompson scored a goal against Columbus as did Sammy Blais. Offensively, plenty of guys have earned their shot.

From an overall perspective though, they are not ready by themselves. Just as not all teenagers are ready to drive alone, these guys are not ready to drive the Blues without supervision.

Again, none of this is being said to diminish any one player. You give me two-to-three guys and say they’ll have third defensive pairing or third line roles with the Blues and I’ll be fine with that.

I just don’t want an entire line of prospects yet. I would prefer not to have a pairing of them guarding the net just yet. Sprinkle them in with veterans and they will shine. Put them together alone and they still need too much grooming to be successful.

What many of us fail to realize, or just choose not to sometimes, is that is normal. The Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s of the world are a rare commodity. Very few players are ready to jump into the NHL right away and take the league by storm.

If nothing else, these last few preseason games where prospects have formed almost the entire lineup should show fans that tanking or blowing up the team is not an option. Say what you will about our current lineup, but it wins.

If you blow up the team and let these guys play alone right away, we are not going to win. They just don’t have the knowledge or the skill level to simply jump in there as a unit and win.

Thompson still has to improve. Thomas might be the next Stastny, but he’s not ready yet. All the defenders need to get better – we don’t need more Kevin Shattenkirks, we need guys that can defend properly.

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They will get better. Some will make their mark in the league this year. It just won’t be a bunch of them and it won’t be all at once.

We are going to have to be more patient. These kids are simply not ready to take over the entire team.