The St. Louis Blues 2017-18 season seems like it has been over for ages. However, there is little time for rest for some players as they head over seas.
Ask any member of the St. Louis Blues and, regardless of how fans might think they would have fared, they will say they’d rather be playing in the NHL playoffs. Instead, the team missed the postseason and now they must settle for the alternative.
While several players have already hit the links and some are likely to do so soon, the skates are not hung up for everyone. There will be 10 members of the Blues that will travel to Denmark and play for gold in the IIHF World Championships.
Those five will not be going alone as five more have joined the fray, representing a total of five countries.
Ville Husso and defensive prospect Niko Mikkola, who spent last season in the Finnish league, will play for Team Finland. Despite the overwhelming sentiment growing against him in St. Louis, Dmitrij Jaskin is still being recognized by his country. He and prospect Adam Musil will represent the Czech Republic.
Last, but not least, Nikita Soshnikov, who is still an official member of the Blues until July, at least, will play for Team Russia. The Blues did not get to see a ton of Soshnikov, but he played in much the same manner as Vladimir Sobotka did before leaving for Europe. There was a fire there and a feistiness that the Blues sorely needed, but an injury prevented him from really showcasing much. Perhaps a good tournament could earn him a new deal with the team, if the price was right of course.
According to the Post-Dispatch, the Blues almost had an eleventh player playing. Vince Dunn was initially named to the Team Canada roster but had to withdraw due to an upper-body injury. That is a shame, because he truly earned it with a very good rookie season.
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There is no doubt that it is disappointing to miss the playoffs. The 2017-18 season started off so well and all the Blues needed to do was settle in and play decent hockey. Instead, they played as poorly in the middle as they did well at the start and doomed themselves by making it too difficult to climb out of later on.
So, as fans and players, we all must deal with the reality before us. If we want to carry on watching some of our players, we will have to do so following them in an international tournament.
The World Championships do not have the prestige of the World Cup, let alone the Olympics. Most of that is due to the time frame when they are played, coming early in the summer when the NHL playoffs are still in full swing. However, players are always honored to don their country’s sweater and it will be no different here.
If nothing else, this tournament provides a solid opportunity for several players. It gives a chance for prospects like Musil and Mikkola to showcase their talents to team scouts in game action.
For guys like Jaskin or Soshnikov, it gives them one last opportunity to sell themselves to Doug Armstrong before free agency begins. And for the guys like Tage Thompson or the Canadian four, it is simply a chance to keep the legs loose and stay in game shape.
As a fan, it will also be interesting to see whether Husso gets much time or not. His competition for the net is Harri Sateri, who played nine games for the Florida Panthers this past season.
The games will be broadcast on NHL Network. Most will be played live in the morning, due to the time difference in Denmark. The tournament runs from May 4-20.