On Saturday we started a review of the players who played for the St. Louis Blues this past season. We continue with that process now as we take a look at three defense-men who had small stints with the big club. Thanks to www.thelonelyislanders.com for the idea.
The three defense-men had varying levels of impact on the Blues this season but they all had a significant impact on the organization as a whole.
Nathan Oystrick: Oystrick only player in nine games for the Blues this year and even that was split into two trips up from Peoria. In those nine games Oystrick recorded a power play goal and two assists, which would have surpassed his career total of 4 goals and 8 assists from 2008 with Anaheim if projected over the course of a full season.
It was in Peoria that Oystrick really made his mark though. In 61 games with the Rivermen, Oystrick notched 15 goals and 30 assists and was an AHL All-Star representative. His 15 goals ranked fourth on the Rivermen and tied his AHL career high.
This was Oystrick’s second best season in the AHL, behind only his 2006 season with the Chicago Wolves and his 47 points. Oystrick is still young, only 20 years old, and could have a major impact on the future of the Blues blue line.
Trend: Even. While he put up numbers that would have projected well in the NHL, Oystrick spent the majority of his season in the AHL. His impact on the Rivermen was substantial but not enough to warrant a call up late in the season.
Tyson Strachan: Strachan has been with the Blues for the last three seasons but has not found a steady spot on either the NHL or AHL roster. This season, Strachan appeared in 29 games with the Blues but only had a meager assist and a -10 rating. It didnt’ help that he was called up and sent down four seperate times during the season.
Strachan is not an offensive defense-men which is probably why he was not the first choice as a call up as the Blues looked for heavy shots and an offensive mindset. In his 13 games in Peoria, Strachan only had 8 assists and a -5 rating.
In his career in Peoria Strachan does have 8 goals and 34 assists but his point total decreased each year in his stints in the NHL. In 2008, Strachan appeared in 30 games and had 3 assists, last season in 8 games he had 2 assists and then this season just the one assists in 29 games.
Trend: Down. With many young, puck moving defense-men ahead of him before this season and with the acquisition of Kevin Shattenkirk, Strachan’s value is not as high as it was in previous years. Look for the Blues to let him walk in his free agency year as it looks like the cupboard is stocked pretty full.
Ian Cole: Cole is one of the defense-men that moved past Strachan on the depth chart and also showed he belongs in the NHL as soon as next season.
Cole played in 26 games with the Blues and scored his first career NHL goal on March 9th against Columbus. Ian would have had two in that game if not for a controversial non-goal call early in the game. Like Strachan, Cole was called up four different times during the season but it didn’t seem to faze the rookie.
Cole’s play did not deviate from Peoria to the Blues as he potted 5 goals and 10 assists and a +2 rating in 44 games with the Rivermen. After leading the defense at Notre Dame for three seasons, Cole signed with the Blues before his senior season started and played in 9 games with the Rivermen last year, scoring a goal and 4 assists in those 9 games.
Trend: Up. Despite being so young, Cole showed maturity in his stints with the Blues, especially with the frequent trips between Peoria and St. Louis. The young core in St. Louis has an almost un-matched level of maturity and Cole is a part of that. While it may be hard to crack the starting lineup in St. Louis next season, its safe to say that Cole will either be the 7th defense-men in St. Louis or the first call up when an injury occurs.
Stay tuned for more player reviews over the next few weeks as we get closer to the NHL Entry Draft and free agency.