The St. Louis Blues have had as hard a time with injuries in 2021 as any season most fans can remember. Just about everyone you would consider a top-six forward has missed time.
The defensive unit is almost completely different than the one the Blues had in 2019. Some of that is due to free agency, but some is due to injuries, like losing Carl Gunnarsson for the season.
Losing goals is always difficult, but so is losing a heart and soul player like Oskar Sundqvist. So, the Blues should be grateful for any help they can get, especially if the player is fully healthy.
The flip side of that coin is that the fanbase should not expect any kind of savior to swoop in at the very end of the season. My worry, based on some social media comments seen, is that there will be too many high expectations for Klim Kostin to live up to.
There is no doubt that Kostin has talent. Whether he will live up to expectations over the course of his NHL career remains to be seen. He’s been in North America so little that we just don’t know what to expect from Kostin.
Regardless, we need to be cautious about how much to expect. There is no doubt that Kostin had a good run on loan in the AHL this season.
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With Avangard Omsk, he scored seven goals and had 18 points in 43 regular season games. Those are not spectacular numbers, but most of the goals came late in the season because Kostin found his groove as the year went on.
The big forward went even hotter once the KHL playoffs began. On route to a Gagarin Cup win, the KHL’s version of the Stanley Cup, Kostin scored five goals and had nine points in 24 playoff games.
The way he re-established himself in Russia was bound to get people excited. Kostin had somewhat floundered more than we expected in the AHL, so for him to look like a bona fide prospect again would get anyone’s juices flowing.
However, regardless of what talent he has, he’s not going to hit the ground running again. It just doesn’t work that way.
Look at the last few years for the Blues. St. Louis brought in several new faces in 2018-19 and it took until January for them to finally click with the old group. Ryan O’Reilly admitted that he didn’t feel 100% comfortable in the Blues locker room until the playoffs actually began.
St. Louis kept the band together, with the exception of Pat Maroon and Joel Edmundson for 2019-20 and you could tell the difference. St. Louis hit the ice running and were on their way to a potential second championship until the pandemic hit.
2021 went similar to the championship year. The Blues defensive unit was almost completely different and injuries hit and we have not seen the true St. Louis Blues until the last quarter of the season. With a shortened year, that disparity has put the Blues in a position where the playoffs are actually in jeopardy.
With that chemistry issue at hand, it has to be taken into consideration that even a hot Kostin might take too much time to gel with his new teammates. He won’t be a complete stranger the way a player from another team will be, but he has not even practiced with these guys since the early portions of 2019-20.
We need to brace ourselves for the possibility that Kostin might not play for the Blues unless another string of injuries happen. That’s not to say I don’t want to see him, but the time allotted just isn’t enough.
As of May 2, the Blues have seven games left. Kostin will reportedly be added to the team’s taxi squad on May 4, but it is unclear if that is a paperwork move and he will have to continue quarantining or if he will actually begin practicing on May 4.
Whatever the case may be, the Blues will only have six games left once that day rolls around. That’s not much time to get acclimated to a different team, different style and be prepared for another playoff run. Should the Blues throw chemistry away this late in the season just to get Kostin going?
One of the two things Kostin will have going for him is that he just came from a playoff atmosphere, so getting into that mindset would be the least of the Blues worries. Additionally, he’s had a similar number of games played and stayed relatively healthy, so he’s got his legs going and was in mid-season form.
Blues fans just need to check their expectations. You can’t ask a player to come in the last week of the season and just slide into the lineup with no hiccups when they haven’t been here.
Kostin’s future is in the Blues future and it still has the potential to be a bright one. We all just need to keep it real for this portion of 2021 and if he’s given a shot and outperforms what is realistic, then great. We just cannot expect that.