Alexey Toropchenko, Oskar Sundqvist, Sammy Blais
What a fourth line this could be if the Blues could keep it together all season long. Of course, that won’t happen, whether due to injuries or just guys having slumps, but if it could happen – wow.
Every single player on this line is capable of playing further up the line card.
Sammy Blais went from five points in 40 games in New York to 20 points in 31 games in St. Louis. He often filled in for the top nine and sometimes top six.
He’s got speed, hands and is basically a human missile throwing 119 hits in those 31 games. The nice thing about Blais is he can still give you those numbers in a fourth line role. Maybe he drops a goal or something, but in 70-80 games in St. Louis, he can easily get you 25 points and close to 10 goals. That’s fantastic for a fourth-line player.
I’m still shocked Oskar Sundqvist is back. I thought for sure he would get a $3-4 million offer from some team.
He’s only 29 and would be a worthy third-line player on most teams. His point totals have fluctuated, but he has had double-digit goals in three of his last five seasons. The ones he did not he was injured and still scored eight and the other was the covid year, which also had games missed for injury.
Sundqvist won’t throw caution to the wind like Blais, but if healthy, he’ll get you between 60-70 hits and might even approach 100.
Last, but not least, Alexey Toropchenko is another guy that has more upside than your prototypical fourth-line player, but fits in this spot for now. He’s got some skill and we’ve seen brief flashes, but his tenacity is what impresses in his young career.
He is coming off a 10-goal season in 2022-23 and only played in 69 games. While he slid up and down the lineup, he was mostly in a third or fourth-line role already.
If he earns a place higher in the lineup, then fantastic. For now, he’s what you want in a fourth liner in 2023. He hits at the same rate as Blais, can score and possess the puck pretty well.
Torpo is not a blazer, but he has sneaky speed combined with the long stride of someone who is 6’6.
Any of these players can play on your second or third lines – perhaps not for a full season, but they can perform. Having them on the fourth line showcases depth and you’ve got at least two guys you can trust in late situations in a close game.
Top to bottom, this is a solid Blues lineup. There have been better and this one is still shaky in terms of guaranteed production.
If everyone performs at peak level, or close to it, this is a good team. If you have more than one or two with down years, you’re likely out of the playoffs again, so there isn’t much room for error.
Still, this group of 12 gives the Blues their best chance to win on most nights. We’ll see how accurate this lineup is, or how long it can stay together, when the Blues start the regular season on October 12.