With the departures of David Backes (to Boston) and Troy Brouwer (to Calgary), veterans Alex Steen and Paul Stastny are likely to be moved onto the top line for the Blues alongside Vladimir Tarasenko, writes Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Rutherford spoke with St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock in advance of what will be his final season as Hitchcock announced this summer that he plans to retire and turn the coaching reins over to Mike Yeo who was hired as an associate coach back in June. As a result of the roster turnover and pending coaching transition, Hitchcock noted that the Blues’ style of play is going to change in 2016-17:
“This is the first time in five years that there’s going to be a significant change in a part of the system that we play. We’re able to cherry-pick what Minny did. Their team was built the same way that our team is going to be built this year, not really big on size, but a bunch of puck-hunters.”
The team projects to be much younger next year with four players aged 30 or older leaving via free agency or trade but the team as whole is quite experienced as the average number of NHL games per player on the roster is nearly 355, or the equivalent of over four full NHL seasons for each.
[Related: Blues’ Depth Chart]
More from the Western Conference:
- At least one NHL executive thinks that pending UFA college left winger Jimmy Vesey is ‘Chicago’s to lose’, according to Scott Powers of The Athletic. The Blackhawks have a top six vacancy that could potentially be filled by the 23 year old and head coach Joel Quenneville hasn’t hesitated to play young players in key roles in recent seasons. With three Stanley Cups since 2010 plus eight straight postseason appearances, the Blackhawks can easily sell themselves as an annual contender, something they’ve successfully done in recent years on the college UFA market with players like Trevor van Riemsdyk, Tanner Kero, and Kyle Baun, to name a few.
- Vancouver left winger Sven Baertschi has no lingering effects from the knee injury he sustained late last season, he noted to Jeff Paterson of The Province. Baertschi played his first full season with the Canucks in 2015-16, recording 15 goals and 13 assists in 69 games. He’s expected to contend for a top six roster spot next year but the Swiss forward recognizes he will need to be more consistent than he was last year if he wants to stay in that role.