The St. Louis Blues will head into the 2021 season with a much different forward core than what they finished 2020 with. For Klim Kostin, it is up to him whether or not he is a part of that core.
Klim Kostin gained a quick introduction to the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in the 2019-20 season. He appeared in four games and registered his first-career NHL goal with a tally against the Nashville Predators.
The Blues were the best regular-season team in the Western Conference. Without the pandemic, all signs were pointing toward St. Louis taking the number one seed in the west when the postseason began.
This did not allow Kostin, or other players like him, to see extended ice time at the NHL level. Despite the skill that the Russian has shown in the preseason and in international tournaments, inexperience was something the Blues couldn’t afford to throw out on a daily basis.
Still, the production from Kostin in the AHL last season is cause enough to be optimistic about a spot on the Blues’ 2021 roster.
New signing Kyle Clifford will hopefully slot in either on the fourth line or in a Pat Maroon-type role on the third line. The former King and Maple Leaf should not be expected to take time away from skill players like Kostin and Jordan Kyrou.
Kostin still has work to be done to capture a spot on the team, however. His 30 points in 48 games with the San Antonio Rampage last season was respectable, and even if he performs with Avangard Omsk this winter, he will still need a great preseason camp to make the roster.
The signing of Sam Anas will be another major obstacle for Kostin. Anas netted 20 goals and 50 assists for the Iowa Wild last season and although he has been a career minor leaguer, he still shows some upside at 27 years old.
The fact that Anas has not been with the organization before could be harmful to his cause for playing time in St. Louis. Doug Armstrong and Craig Berube could give Kostin extended looks due to him being one of the top prospects in the Blues organization.
There’s still potential for the Blues to go sign a new forward to fill the void left by Tarasenko’s injury. Veteran players like Corey Perry or Mike Hoffman could be prime candidates to come in on a one-year contract and give St. Louis some much-needed experience.
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If that doesn’t happen, expect some of the Blues’ young guns like Kostin, Anas and Alexi Toropchenko to receive extended looks during training camp. Whenever that may be.