I have consistently advocating hanging on to all these top forward prospects to see what happens with them. The potential is staggering, not only from the talent standpoint but the room they could create under the salary cap. Those guys are the path to true Stanley Cup contender IMO.
Hard to pick just five for a franchise that has had so much happen. What if Gassoff had played his whole career here? What if Doug Gilmour never had adventures in babysitting? What if Bill Laurie liked hockey and his wife let him play on? So many huge things . . . but Houston's inside job is up there.
He rotates down from the point and gets snap shots from the circle, as we saw again Thursday. Lots of interchanging parts on the PP. I can live with it.
No update on Schwartz matters until he starts skating again. As we saw with Bouwmeester, that proved to be a big hurdle. His rehab sailed along until he put the skates on. Once Schwartz is skating for real, then it could about a week to get him back.
He will get his chance to make the Blues roster. So will Thomas and Kostin. Odds are there will be shuffing back and forth from San Antonio, as we've seen this season with Thompson and Blais -- who is headed back to the Rampage.
Robert Thomas: He is the long-term answer at the No. 2 center slot. Very good two-way player. Jordan Kyrou: Explosive scoring potential. He needs to learn the defensive side and play harder shift to shift, but he can make plays at top speed. Klim Kostin: NHL build at age 18 and a pro-caliber shot. He just needs to get his game up to pro speed. Tage Thompson: Huge wingspan, NHL-ready shot, just needs to be stronger on the puck.
A true No. 1? No. He played 40 games on season in Nashville was just OK. I'd say the same for last year's work in 29 games here. Great No. 2. He's like Chris Mason, a long-time back-up who finally got regular work and was just OK on Nashville and here.
That will be an interesting call, given the quantity of young forwards the Blues have coming in. Perhaps they could get a look in place of younger but underwhelming players like Sundqvist and Paajarvi to name two. How they finish the year and show in the playoffs could factor in that.
Sanford could work into the pile of forwards competing for work, with Thompson, Barbashev and Blais. He flashed potential last season, but that was a small sample. Plus he is going to need a few weeks to get his game back, likely in the AHL. I see him as a Top 9 forward with some size and offensive ability. He some nice little plays in the limited duty he saw last year.
Jaskin has the lead on the other two. He is finally using his size to full advantage. He is hitting people with leverage. Right now it's hard to see Magnus or Oskar as more than placeholders. They just don't produce.
Yeo is not shy about shuffling lines on the fly to adjust the game's flow. Vegas plays that blue-collar game and Yeo learned hard on Jaskin and the other workers. But, yes, it's notable when Tarasenko plays 2 1/2 minutes less than Kyle Brodziak on a given night.
Steen and Oshie are dramatically different players. Oshie is younger with a nice skill set and Steen checks and kills penalties in addition to playing a Top 9 role. He is an established team leader and the Blues didn't want to subtract too much of that. Could you argue against Steen's latest contract? Sure, but the team will need some leadership and continuity to help all those kids. As for the return, the third-round pick and a depth goal wasn't much in addition to one year of Brouwer. The Blues spent two No. 1s to get Schenn, so getting back one first-rounder for Oshie would have been appropriate.
The NHL is awash in goaltenders. The odds of Hutton getting a starting gig elsewhere are not great. I see him as a good re-sign for one year here with Husso and Binnington playing at San Antonio.
He is frustrated because goals are hard to come by. The power play has been in a deep rut without Schwartz. Tarasenko put six shots on goal against Vegas and there were some really good looks there. The goals will come and smiles will likely follow.
I never said Sanford was untouchable. Nor Walman or Schmaltz on defense. Nor Jaskin, who could have some value now. There are some pieces there. The Senators are saying they won't take a prospect/pick combination for Hoffman for now and that is what the Blues can offer.
I couldn't find minutes played on a quick statistical search, so I can't answer that question. But over at The Athletic Corey Pronman noted that Kostin was picked as one of Russia's top three players in the quarterfinal game against the USA. He wrote: "As I said throughout this journal, Kostin put to rest any doubts about why he fell to 31st overall in last year's draft. I have legitimate questions still about his skating, but he's a big, strong winger with great skill and vision. I see a player who down the line can be a useful part of the Blues offense."
Right now Ottawa wants talent for talent on Hoffman. So there is no good fit for the Blues on that level. If they want to talk prospects beyond the elite young forwards, there might be a fit. The cap issue would require some work. Many other teams are looking for scoring depth and many of those are better positioned to deal.
He hasn't shouldered a huge workload for the Bruins' AHL team, so you might want to pump the brakes on that. I see him and Husso fighting it out for time at San Antonio. Husso was the better prospect when the season started but he, too, hasn't played much.
Kariya wasn't at his peak for long, but when he was he was at a different levels than the others. I guess the knock on J.R. is he didn't win major awards in addition to not playing on title teams. But that career point total ought to get him in. He is fourth all-time among U.S.-born players. Brind'Amour and Muller are different guys, diligent two-way forwards that played forever. But they, too, deserve the respect.
Perhaps both, but Paajarvi has fallen behind Dmitrij IMO. Jaskin is plowing over people these days.