St. Louis Blues: The Dream Of An All Big Man Line Is Alive

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 16: Joel Edmundson
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 16: Joel Edmundson /

The St. Louis Blues are getting healthy as the season begins to wind down. That presents some interesting possibilities when it comes to line combinations going forward.

The St. Louis Blues seem poised to play Zach Sandford at some point this season. It might not be within the next game or two, but he will get a good amount of games in before the playoffs if all goes as planned.

When Sanford first went down in the preseason, it seemed as though his season might be over. His timetable was listed as five to six months, but you can never tell when it comes to shoulder injuries.

Now that his return to the lineup seems imminent, it means there are some intriguing chances to pair certain players together. One of the more interesting ones, from my perspective, is an entire forward line of big men.

Fans of this space, or those that just have nothing better to read, will know that is something I’ve advocated for since the preseason. It’s been something that just pokes at my brain as a very interesting combination.

Sanford would be a big part in putting such a line together. Of course, that would involve not putting him on the fourth line, but we will see how that pans out.

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The best combination, as far as size and skill would be Tage Thompson and Sanford on the wing and Patrik Berglund at center. You could even move Thompson into the middle to get him more comfortable with that spot in the NHL.  All are 6’4 or bigger and still skilled.

The slightly less desirable combination would be Thompson, Sanford and Dmitrij Jaskin. They all have skill, but the inexperience might come into play with almost no veteran leadership on that line. Additionally, it puts pressure on Thompson to be the center all the time. Eventually, you do have to just get used to it, but tossing him into the deep end at this point in the year might not be wise.

It could be argued that Berglund might not be enough of a mentor or veteran presence to lead those other two players. Additionally, he seems to be slightly more comfortable when on the wing these days. He can clearly play in the middle, but if he continues to struggle there it might not be in the team’s best interest.

Despite the potential drawbacks, it is still something I would like to see. The benefits could be good enough to outweigh the negatives.

The biggest reason it is interesting is the Blues big guys are all skilled. Despite the fact I’ve soured on Jaskin of late, he still can be good with the puck on his stick.

All four of the players named are much better with the puck than traditional big guys. Thompson, in particular, is slick in that department. Much of that comes with having a late growth spurt. He spent many of his formative years as a smaller player.

You cannot put a ton of pressure on Sanford upon returning. We still do not have a major idea of how good he’ll be.

He scored two goals and five points in 13 games with St. Louis last season. He only had two goals and one assist with Washington in 26 games prior to that.

Sanford might end up being a solid second line player in his career. He might also fizzle out and bounce between the fourth and third line as we have seen from other Blues.

The bottom line is a line of big, skilled players might put the Blues in a spot that most teams find difficult to deal with. Like Anaheim of year’s past or Los Angeles, some teams find it difficult to deal with size.

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If you add in the quickness the Blues big men have and the stick handling ability and you have a nightmare to defend. Finishing would be the only major question mark.

We will see if the Blues actually try this out. Chances are low that they will, but it would be worth the roll of the dice.