The St. Louis Blues opened camp today, giving fans their first look at a few young prospects and another glimpse at their old favorites. The Blues finished second in the Western Conference last year due to a balanced roster and with very few changes heading into this season, they could be headed back to the playoffs.
Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, the team’s two first round picks from the 2010 draft, are the two new additions who will be turning heads this season. Schwartz saw some time with the Blues last season and was having a great season in the AHL with the Peoria Rivermen during the lockout. The Blues are excited to finally see Tarasenko in North America and will hope he can translate his KHL success into a solid NHL career.
There are many things to like about the top line – David Perron, David Backes and T.J. Oshie are all capable scorers playing in the prime of their careers. Backes led the team last season with 24 goals and 54 points, while Oshie was second on the team and Perron fifth in scoring. Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund combined for 35 goals last season and could see Schwartz added on a line with them. Tarasenko will likely join veterans Andy McDonald and Alex Steen and should add a spark and speed for another dangerous scoring line.
Matt D’Agostini, Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter, Scott Nichol and Jamie Langenbrunner round out the rest of the forwards. Langenbrunner is around more for his leadership than scoring at this point in his career, and not a single one of these six forwards scored 10 or more goals last season. Reaves and Nichol are around in more of an enforcer role, so any offense they provide is a bonus. Porter, Sobotka and D’Agostini have shown they can score at various point in their careers, and could boost this Blues team over the top if they find their groove.
If there’s one weakness on the Blues team, it’s depth. Outside of two proven lines and an often dangerous third one, they can’t expect to generate much offense. If their role players can perform better this season, they should not only be headed back to the playoffs but have great success there as well.