St. Louis Blues Tanner Dickinson Has To Wait For The Log Jam

Tanner Dickinson #71(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
Tanner Dickinson #71(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

Any time the St. Louis Blues utilize a draft pick on a player, they hope that young man will blossom into a future star in the NHL. The timetable of the individual is not always the only factor at play though.

That is the case with Tanner Dickinson. The Blues 2020 draft pick has talent and potential, but he’s also got a long list of players ahead of him – for now.

The problem Dickinson faces is that his recent injury is not the only uphill battle he faces. He has a good amount of similar players with roster spots already in hand, as well as lengthy contracts in their back pockets.

Dickinson was actually making waves last season. He had a strong prospects camp and preseason and translated that into his junior season.

Dickinson actually made the USA World Junior Championships team when the tournament was originally scheduled. He picked up an assist in the team’s lone game prior to the tournament being cancelled due to covid.

Dickinson scored 18 goals and 47 points in 35 games for the Soo Greyhounds as well. Then, injury struck.

Dickinson took a questionable hit. That hit from behind actually broke his femur bone.

For those who have forgotten their biology classes, that’s the thigh bone. Wives tales say that bone is as strong as concrete.

Whether that is true is up for debate, but the bottom line is you rarely hear about breaks to that bone outside of car crashes. Fortunately for Dickinson, other NHL players had similar injuries and managed to return to the ice.

As pointed out in Jim Thomas’ article, Dickinson was able to take part in drills during the 2022 prospects camp, though he was held out of scrimmages. Nevertheless, the hope of Dickinson is that he can turn pro this year.

For him, there are two things going against him. One is that he does still have a year of junior eligibility left, though he is old enough that the Blues have the option to assign him to the juniors or the AHL.

The second problem, and the biggest one for a potential career with the Blues, is that he has a bunch of players ahead of him.

Dickinson is currently listed as a center. While the fourth line usually has a spot open in the middle, Dickinson’s talents don’t really sit there.

He’s a scorer and a playmaker. He has speed, but isn’t known for physicality, which is something you want on a fourth line.

Above that, the Blues are pretty flush. You have Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn both locked up through the 2027-28 season.

Ryan O’Reilly is scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2023, but I just cannot see the Blues letting another captain slip away. Ivan Barbashev can play in the middle too and he is also a potential UFA. I also don’t see him being let go unless he makes ridiculous contract demands.

That’s four guys on your NHL roster blocking Dickinson from even thinking about getting higher than the AHL over the next few years. That’s a pretty good log jam and not even factoring in the presence of Logan Brown, who doesn’t have much time invested with the Blues, but has the trade factor on his side.

You also have Zachary Bolduc. While it’s impossible to compare junior seasons to potential professional production, Bolduc has shown a bigger knack for scoring, making him slightly higher in the pecking order.

However, you never know how things work out. Maybe Barbashev and O’Reilly leave and Schenn stays moved to the wing.

Two or three years from now, we might have top three centers of Thomas, Bolduc and Dickinson for all we know. It just feels unlikely in this moment.

The worry has to be that Dickinson may need to go elsewhere to get a good look as an NHL player. That’s not to say the Blues don’t think highly of him, but when you’re competing for division titles and Stanley Cups, it’s hard to hand the reigns to unproven guys when you have leaders and veterans that have already shown what they can do.

So far, the Blues have been very lucky in their choices of whom to let go. If Dickinson got a look elsewhere because St. Louis knew they were holding him back, I’d trust Doug Armstrong in that choice.

It’s also just nice to have your draft picks come to fruition with your team. All Blues fans should hope that both Bolduc and Dickinson can showcase their talents in the blue note in the near future.

Next. Blues still a deeper franchise than given credit for. dark

It just feels like Dickinson will either have to wait for the log jam to clear or go elsewhere. He’s only 20, so that decision is not imminent, but still a likely scenario.