Two days before their 2023-24 regular season is set to begin, the St. Louis Blues announced their opening night roster. As far as how news worthy it was, it might as well have said “Blues announce water is wet.”
There weren’t going to be many surprises for this roster. The prospects are still a little too raw and there’s just enough veterans around to hold them off for awhile.
Nevertheless, the lack of surprises and tough choices for Craig Berube and Doug Armstrong was a little disappointing. If you went chalk with your roster decisions, you probably won some bets.
According to the team website, the forward group will consist of:
10 – Brayden Schenn (C)
12 – Kevin Hayes
13 – Alexey Toropchenko
15 – Jakub Vrana
18 – Robert Thomas (A)
20 – Brandon Saad
25 – Jordan Kyrou
42 – Kasperi Kapanen
59 – Nikita Alexandrov
63 – Jake Neighbours
70 – Oskar Sundqvist
79 – Sammy Blais
89 – Pavel Buchnevich
Every name on that list, except perhaps one, is someone we all expected to be there. The only name that sort of, kind of forced his way in was Nikita Alexandrov.
However, even then, that was a move many expected unless someone really shined bright in camp. Alexandrov showed pretty well in 28 games in 2022-23, scoring three goals and seven points in 28 games and averaging a hit per game too.
Alexandrov gives you some versatility. Though he plays primarily on the wing for the Blues, he is capable of playing center and taking the odd faceoff here or there.
Still, while he definitely earned a spot on the team with his play during the preseason, he hasn’t shown much than a fourth-line player. Perhaps you could extend him to a third-line guy, but whether he could stay there remains to be seen.
It would have been nice for someone like Zachary Bolduc or even Zach Dean to really put their stamp on the preseason and made it impossible to send them down the way Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson did in their rookie years. Obviously that didn’t happen and both still need some seasoning.
A few fans will lament not having Nathan Walker or Mackenzie MacEachern, but they’ll get their games. If we are talking about them as difference makers, this team is in trouble anyway.
For defense, there were no surprises because there’s nobody there to push.
4 – Nick Leddy
6 – Marco Scandella
41 – Robert Bortuzzo
47 – Torey Krug
48 – Scott Perunovich
55 – Colton Parayko (A)
72 – Justin Faulk (A)
75 – Tyler Tucker
I had a few personal relations talk about keeping Scott Perunovich in the NHL or keeping Tyler Tucker as a little shocking. It’s not though.
Perunovich may not play every game, but he’s at the point where he’s got to prove himself in the NHL or the Blues need to cut bait. Tucker earned his spot too, but there’s also nobody really kicking the door in.
Calle Rosen is a good player who works hard and earns whatever minutes he gets. However, he’s 29 and is what he is. Tucker is 23, has room to grow and was drafted by the Blues too. As an eighth defensemen, he was almost always going to have a leg up unless the team decided playing every night in the AHL would be more beneficial.
In the end, nobody had a bad camp and there’s still some guys to be excited about in the next two or three years. In the overall sense, it was still a little bit of a downer for nobody to just wow the coaching staff and push aside one of the third or fourth-line veterans.
Regardless, we’re all happy hockey is back. How long we are happy is up to the assembled roster and how much different/better they can play than 2022-23.