When you think about the St. Louis Blues team, youth isn’t necessarily the first word that comes up. While the team is hardly old, the Blues roster is full of veteran players like Paul Statstny, Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester and Patrik Berglund. They also have a group of players entering their prime now, names such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and the recently acquired Brayden Schenn, who they traded their first-round pick for.
The point is that no one thinks of the Blues as a young team, yet Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that surprisingly, St. Louis may have as many as nine or even 10 players who are 24 years old or younger on next year’s roster next. Somehow, it seems that the Blues are developing a lot of young players despite their veteran success in the NHL. Rutherford suggests that Robby Fabbri, Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev, Zachary Sanford and Dmitrij Jaskin all could find themselves in the Blues forward rotation plans in various ways, while youngsters Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, Jordan Schmaltz and Petteri Lindbohm all have a chance to crack the lineup on defense. And that doesn’t include 2017 first-round pick Klim Kostin, who just recently signed his entry-level contract.
Fabbri, a 2014 first-round pick, has already established himself as a quality prospect. He opened his rookie year two years ago with an 18-goal season. While the 21-year-old is coming off a torn ACL injury he sustained in February, he still put up 11 goals in 51 games last year and could be a top candidate to take over at center next year while Bergeron sits out due to shoulder surgery until December. Jaskin has been with the Blues for a while now. The 2011 second-rounder has been in and out of the lineup for four seasons now. The 24-year-old wing played in 51 games last year and finished with 11 points. He must make the next step if he wants to hold off other youngsters coming up. Barbashev could be one of those players. He was drafted in the second round after Fabbri, got into 30 games for the Blues a year ago and showed promise, producing five goals and 12 points and at 21, may be ready for an increased role.
The team has also been very prudent, trading the occasional veteran for prospects.Several of their young players came over via trade. Sundqvist, traded to St. Louis from Pittsburgh a few weeks ago in the Ryan Reaves trade, hopes to carve out a regular role with the Blues. He’s only played in 28 NHL games, but had a hard time breaking into the lineup. He did score 20 goals with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL last year. Sanford, a second-rounder from 2013, was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal, and could work his way onto the roster. Sanford played 39 games in his rookie season after coming to the NHL from Boston College. He put up just eight points, but did get into four playoff games for the Blues.
On defense, the 24-year-old Edmundson has already established himself as a solid defensive presence after two solid seasons in a row. The former 2011 second-rounder played 67 games in 2015-16 and put up three goals and 12 assists in 69 games this past season. Parayko, 24, also has put together two solid seasons on defense as the third-rounder of 2012 put up four goals and 31 assists last year. Both have worked their way through the system and have paid off. Schmaltz, 23, is right on their heels. The former 2012 first-rounder got into nine games this year and could surprise some people and make the team. Lindbohm, 23, has made appearances in three straight seasons as a depth defenseman.