The St. Louis Blues are going to have some tough choices to make when their blue line gets 100% healthy. One man, playing one game might have shown them the way, interestingly enough.
The St. Louis Blues might not have to worry about their blue line roster for a bit still. From everything we have heard, Jay Bouwmeester still is not skating with the team, so his return is not imminent.
Even so, you do have to plan for his return because you know he’s not going to be held out of the lineup. The question becomes who is and what form does their removal from the roster take.
Unfortunately, the most likely scenario remains that Vince Dunn is sent down to the minor leagues. This would be a mistake given how well he has played.
In 10 games, Dunn has two goals, which is pretty good for any defenseman, let alone a rookie. He is also blocking shots, averaging just under one a game. Dunn has really earned his spot. Regardless of what the reason he was initially put on the roster was, he has earned his spot regardless of injuries right now.
He might have actually had some unexpected help in proving that as well. In the Blues tenth game of the season, they played against the Calgary Flames.
Most all of you know what happened, overall, in that game. If you missed it, check out our pros and cons to come from that contest.
One of the interesting things to come of that was the play of Nate Prosser. Prosser was a little refreshing, actually throwing his weight around and leading the team with four hits in that game and winning several battles in the corner.
Prosser was in the lineup due to Carl Gunnarsson‘s absence. Gunnarsson was gone from the team due to personal reasons, which turned out to be the birth of his child. That’s more than a reasonable excuse to miss a hockey game.
What Gunnarsson’s absence and Prosser’s play showed was that Dunn should stay. It’s a very round-about way of thinking, but it’s not completely from left field.
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Basically, Prosser’s play showed that the team does not HAVE to have Gunnarsson in the lineup. The Blues did not defend spectacularly, but there were no glaring holes due to the switch. So, Dunn kept playing, kept doing what he does and the team did not miss a beat.
On the same note, Prosser did not stand out enough to really say he was far and away better than Gunnarsson or anyone else. He played well and filled in nicely, but he has yet to show that he must stay either.
So, if one player is replaceable and the other has yet to prove he should stay, then why not keep the guy that has truly earned the spot? We have seen this before and it worked to the Blues’ benefit.
Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko earned their spots right out of training camp in their rookie seasons. We kept wondering when they would get sent down to the minors and it never happened because they were too good to let it happen. The same should be true of Dunn. Whether it is or not remains to be seen.
The thing going against Dunn right now is his contract. It has nothing to do with money, but the fact that he can be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers. Sadly, that seems to be the most likely reason he would be sent down as opposed to anything wrong with his game.
The right thing to do would be to keep Dunn with the team, cut Prosser and let Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo split the time. That is nothing against Prosser, but it is not like he has been here forever and made his mark in this town. There are lots of other teams that need serviceable defensemen, so he would not be without employment for long.
If the team sent Dunn down, their likely reasoning would be that you replace his offensive ability with Bouwmeester’s. Ok, but why not keep both and have a more dynamic blue line overall?
Dunn still has room to improve. His defensive positioning gets lost at times and he can get caught puck watching. That happens to seasoned veterans though too.
The bottom line is, he is a better choice than Gunnarsson or Bortuzzo. Gunnarsson is a steady player that doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, but he does not have the upside of Dunn. Bortuzzo, at this point, is a solid seventh guy to bring off the bench.
Until Bouwmeester comes back and we see how it all plays out, we are all just guessing. Unfortunately, until I’m proven wrong, I just get the feeling that Dunn won’t get the benefit of the doubt like Parayko and Edmundson did.
He’s earned that benefit so far. The rest are interchangeable and he is not.