The St. Louis Blues made some lineup changes prior to facing the New York Rangers. Now someone who should have made the team out of the gate will get his shot at the NHL.
Whatever the reason, Blais did not make the NHL squad out of the gates. It took a little longer than maybe it deserved, but overall it did not take too long for Blais to get the call.
He was called up from the San Antonio Rampage on Friday. The lineups have not been released as of writing, but you would expect him to be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay.
Blais had an excellent preseason. He and Tage Thompson had the best play in the prospect camp, so it was not completely surprising that Thompson made the team even if Blais did not.
What made the pick interesting was Thompson did not do much goal scoring in the NHL preseason. Blais had two goals and four points. That does not sound overly impressive, but he fit like a glove with the team’s second line. He was playing big minutes and earning them quite well.
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Even more impressive is Blais’ resolve. Some players might put their head down when not making the NHL right out of camp. Some players would get depressed and get off to a bad start in the minors.
Blais took the constructive criticism and used it as inspiration. San Antonio has only played two games in the young season prior to Blais’ callup. Blais managed to get three goals and four points in that time.
Blais seems poised to slot back in to that second line as well. According to the Post-Dispatch, Wade Megan was practicing with the second line so Blais would likely take his spot.
Interestingly, Blais’ promotion actually slots more players to where they fit better. It makes it odd that Thompson was not ever played on the second line, but that’s a different discussion.
That’s not an exciting prospect, but it slides Vladimir Sobotka down to the third line. Sobotka has filled in valiantly, but he is not a top-line player. He should fit in well with the third line no matter if it is at center or wing.
The praise is high for Blais even if he did not make the team right out of the gate. Mike Yeo discussed his intangibles and mental toughness following the team’s preseason finale, right before the roster decision was made.
"“He does a lot of things with the puck that you can’t teach and you can’t coach into players and a lot of that is his poise and his presence with the puck. The rest of it seems to be coming along because of his attitude.” – Mike Yeo, St. Louis Post-Dispatch"
We should temper our expectations, but the Blues have a guy with an eye for goal in Blais. Other players look to make the pass, but he wants to score.
In his first season with Chicago of the AHL in 2016-17, he scored 26 goals. Considering he was 20 and playing as a pro for the first time and considering he is undersized for today’s game, that’s pretty impressive.
Blais might not stay with the team the entire year. He might not stay with the team more than a month.
He is going to make an impact in some form or fashion though. Whether or not he lights the lamp often for the Blues or not, his work ethic should be appreciated.
Maybe it should have come from the start and maybe it shouldn’t have. Maybe we’ll get a hungrier player. Regardless, Blais is here now and I expect him to make the most of it.