In recent years, the St. Louis Blues have had a veteran-laden lineup but that won’t be the case as much in 2016-17. The departures of David Backes (to Boston), Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott (to Calgary), and Steve Ott (to Detroit) have created openings for some of their younger players to take on a larger role. As GM Doug Armstrong told Lou Korac of NHL.com, the shift towards a younger, quicker team is by design:
“We’re one of 30 teams that is seeing this phenomenon take place right now of the evolution of the game. I think we’re as current or ahead of the curve in a lot of different areas. I think puck-moving defensemen, we’ve put a premium on, the last little while. I think the game’s gone to a less physical, more puck-oriented game from your back-end players. … It’s just staying current with the game.”
Between the pipes, 26 year old Jake Allen will take over as the new number one netminder while six of the Blues’ projected top nine forwards are aged 28 or younger. The same can be said for four of their top six defensemen. Between that and the planned coaching change to Mike Yeo for 2017-18, it’s going to be a season of transition for St. Louis.
More from around the league:
- After unceremoniously being cut from training camp after the first day as a result of arriving late, Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang is looking forward to the chance to redeem himself, writes Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. The 20 year old was a first rounder of New York (30th overall) in 2014 and put up 19 goals and 63 assists in 66 OHL games last year while adding another 26 points in 17 postseason contests. As a waiver exempt player that is now AHL eligible, there’s a strong chance Ho-Sang will wind up starting the season with their minor league affiliate in Bridgeport.
- Chicago assistant GM Norm MacIver believes prospect Ryan Hartman is knocking on the door for a full-time roster spot with the Blackhawks, writes Scott Powers of The Athletic. Hartman has spent the last two years with Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford, picking up 72 points but a whopping 249 PIMS in 130 games. For his part, Hartman acknowledges his over aggression and has taken strides off the ice towards improving that this summer, including working with a mental skills coach. He has also dropped ten pounds this offseason in an effort to become a faster skater.
- Long-time NHL referee Chris Rooney ruptured his Achilles tendon and will not only miss the World Cup of Hockey but the first 3-5 months of the regular season, reports ESPN’s John Buccigross. Rooney has been an NHL official since 2000 and has worked in a pair of Stanley Cup Finals.