St. Louis Blues Injury Plagued Lineup Guess To Start 2017-18


The 2017 preseason has not been overly kind to the St. Louis Blues. With so much promise laying before the team and the season on the immediate horizon, the Blues have been hit hard with key injuries.

The St. Louis Blues have not even begun the 2017-18 season and things are already looking very difficult. The season was already going to be an uphill climb and then was made harder by some internal happenings.

We had already discussed how tough the Central Division was going to be. So even if fully healthy, the Blues were going to have a tough go of it.

That last part is the key now. The Blues are definitely not going to be healthy entering the season – not even close.

The injury issues have been discussed. The latest to Robby Fabbri was a definite blow to the Blues as the season is about to start. He was looking to realize the potential we have all seen in him and that chance was taken away.

Now, it is up to the prospects to come up and fill the holes. That might be asking a bit much with some very young and unproven people, but that is what the situation is right now unless the Blues bring in some outside help. That seems unlikely, so the Blues are going to look within.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the Blues lineup might be when we drop the puck in Pittsburgh on October 4. It is going to be quite interesting.

Forwards I’d like to see.

Line 1: Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko
Line 2: Magunus Paajarvi, Braden Schenn, Sammy Blais
Line 3: Wade Megan, Vladimir Sobotka, Ivan Barbashev
Line 4: Dmitirj Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Tage Thompson/Chris Thorburn

In terms of what I would like to see that second line was very difficult to form. If you get the Magnus Paajarvi we saw at the end of 2016-17, he can make it work on the second line. If you get the Paajarvi we’ve become more accustomed to, that left wing becomes tough to fill.

The third line jumps out as extremely raw. You’ve got one guy that’s a little older with three games of NHL experience on one wing. There a gritty center/winger that only came back to the league toward the end of 2017. Then there is what would essentially still be a rookie.

They are all talented enough, with Wade Megan showing quite a bit in the preseason. It would all boil down to how well they gel together.

I hate to be negative, but I was somewhat hoping Dmitrij Jaskin was not going to be an every day player this season. He is all but assured of starting that way with all the injuries. Still, if you can put him on that fourth line, it will be ok.

Speaking of fourth line, I figured I would be much higher on Tage Thompson. If Mike Yeo and the staff feel he’s ready to be higher up the lineup, I’d be fine with it.

However, as good as he has looked it has been very hot and cold. He looks like a vet when he’s on and somewhat lost when he is not. Might be best to keep him in fourth line minutes to start, if he makes the club.

Defense I’d like to see.

Pairing 1: Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo
Pairing 2: Vince Dunn, Colton Parayko
Pairing 3: Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo

Goodness, how a little preseason action can change your opinion. Starting the action, I’d have included Jake Walman in my top six that I would love to see out there.

Offensively, he is fine. Defensively, there have been far too many holes for him to start the season in the NHL right away.

Luckily, the Blues are deep enough on the blue line to avoid that. Jay Bouwmeester is the only injury their only major loss, which only really opens up one spot. Vince Dunn has been a little shaky on defense as well, but he has looked the better of the two to me. I go with him if it is a choice between those two.

Additionally, I’d like to keep Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo on the bottom pairing if possible.

Forwards we are likely to see.

Line 1: Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko
Line 2: Dmitrij Jaskin/Vladimir Sobotka, Braden Schenn, Sammy Blais
Line 3: Dmitrij Jaskin/Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev, Magnus Paajarvi
Line 4: Wade Megan, Kyle Brodziak, Tage Thompson/Chris Thorburn

The top line is almost a lock to be those three. Many Blues fans don’t see Paul Stastny as a top center and he might not be. He is currently the team’s top option though, so that’s how it is.

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The second line is tough again. Sammy Blais has earned a spot on this team with his preseason play, but it would not be a surprise to see him sent down. With so many injuries, I’m pretty much going by the current Blues practice lines by keeping him on that second trio.

The second line will also probably have Vladimir Sobotka up there. I think the team is going to want a more veteran presence on that line as opposed to a rookie and an underwhelming player on the wings as I had it above. If Sobotka is not on the second line, I could see Jaskin there. Regardless of the evidence, the team remains high on him for some reason.

Jaskin could also be on the third line with Ivan Barbashev at center. That would not be terrible as you would have the Russian connection. Placing Paajarvi on that wing could make for an interesting dynamic with two speedsters and a big body with skill (sometimes). If Jaskin goes up to the second line, Oskar Sundqvist might make the team simply because the Blues want to justify that part of the trade.

Sadly, I think Megan ends up on the fourth line if he makes the team. I feel he has earned a spot higher up, but I think the team will see his skill set matching up better with that bottom line.

Also unfortunately, I think Chris Thorburn will get more time than we might have seen if this team was at 100%.

Defensive pairings we are likely to see.

Pairing 1: Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo
Pairing 2: Carl Gunnarsson, Colton Parayko
Pairing 3: Vince Dunn, Robert Bortuzzo

These are not monumentally different from what I suggested. The main difference is the left defender on the second and third pairings.

With Bouwmeester out, I think the Blues will still want a veteran on that second pairing. Even though Gunnarsson has been on the third pairing for most of the preseason in practice, I just have a gut feeling he’ll move up.

Maybe I’m just too used to the old Ken Hitchcock style. Maybe Yeo will do something different. Even though Parayko is a veteran in terms of skill, I just don’t see a rookie in Dunn going with a player only in his third year.

That means the bottom pair would be Dunn and Bortuzzo. I’ve lost some enthusiasm for Bortz, despite a fine midseason last year, but he’s still a better option than Nate Prosser for my money.

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For now, this is the lineup we should expect for the Blues for, at least, the first month of the season. Alexander Steen’s return should not be too far away and Patrik Berglund will return around the New Year.

Outside help is always plausible, but not likely. It is going to be a very different team than we had envisioned the last time we attempted these line combinations.

Of course, there could be changes if any other prospects make the team. Klim Kostin has looked good, but still seems likely to start the year in the AHL. It will be interesting to see how the remaining cuts go as the Blues trim their roster to 23.