Despite the St. Louis Blues great start to the 2017-18 season, there are some glaring holes in their third line. Though they wait for full roster health, they are looking eastward for a potential boost immediately.
The St. Louis Blues third line struggles have been well discussed. Just look at about any of our pros/cons series and it seems like that line usually falls into a con.
They have definitely improved their effort and shift to shift energy. The numbers remain the same though. The Blues are just not getting enough scoring or even scoring threat from anyone they plug into that third trio.
Clearly, the return of Patrik Berglund (not until Christmas or early January according to estimates) would help. We do not yet know if he would be put on that third line or who gets moved around, but even at his worst he is at least a threat compared to the current third liners.
The Blues might be looking for more immediate help though. According to Jeremy Rutherford, now of the Atheltic, the Blues might be interested in a Russian winger.
It should be noted that Rutherford’s tweet specifically states these reports are coming from Russia. No offense to any Russian Blues fans, but even leaving politics out of it, hockey rumors coming from the motherland are not exactly the most reliable.
Russia does what Russia wants. If an agent wants to drum up interest in his player, he just starts talking about how an NHL team is interested in his player. It is not always the case.
We learned that the hard way with Vladimir Sobotka. He was rumored to be coming back to the NHL several times before it finally happened. Many of those rumors trickled out of Russia and North American news outlets had little choice but to discuss them.
So, we do not know the full validity of this report other than Rutherford is usually reliable for not throwing out random stuff. We will see how it all works.
Taking at face value, you have to wonder how much a 36 year old who has never played an NHL game is going to actually help. Already some fans have taken to social media saying it could not be any worse than what’s out there.
While, on the surface, that could be true, you do have to take into account team chemistry. At 36, is Danis Zaripov going to be able to transition into a new locker room, new system and new teammates with no hiccups? Do you want to chance messing with the team’s hot start on the flyer that he might be able to score a handful of goals?
That is for each fan to decide on their own. What I can tell you is people saying he’s better than our current players are not necessarily right.
Yes, he has put up more consistent career numbers but that’s coming from the KHL. There is no doubt (or little doubt) the KHL is the second best league in the world, but they play a very different style over there.
Rinks are different dimensions and the physicality is nowhere near that of the NHL – though it is still rougher than some other European leagues. It’s just a different world, to go along with a different culture.
So you can’t just stare at the stat sheets and say his rough average of 20-25 goals per season will translate. That might fall to 15 or maybe even less.
I’m not against Zaripov himself. He has talent, shown by scoring anywhere from 45 to 65 points in any one season when healthy.
The issue is bringing in someone with no North American experience outside of one season of junior hockey way back in 1998-99. You’d be bringing in someone at the tail end of their career regardless of league and asking them to step up to the biggest, fastest, strongest league in the world.
I have read rumors of his leadership, with some fans comparing him to Pavel Datsyuk. Getting locker room guys in is fine, but I just don’t see it as a fit on the surface.
We’ve all been wrong before and if the Blues bring him in, hopefully I would be wrong. I just see it as the wrong move at the wrong time with the chances for it making a meaningful impact being slim.