The St. Louis Blues started the season missing three of their top nine forwards and one of their top four defensemen. The start to the season was starting to look like a loss, but the emergence of the Blues’ young talent has changed that outlook. During this season’s preseason fans and the coaching staff got a good look at some of the young talent the Blues have to offer.
Blues rookies Samuel Blais, Tage Thompson, Jordan Kyrou, and Wade Megan were all tied for first in points with four points each. They were also tied in points with Blues’ forward Dmitrij Jaskin and Blues’ superstar Vladimir Tarasenko.
This year’s first-round draft picks Klim Kostin and Robert Thomas also impressed coaches during the preseason both scoring two points each. Blues rookie defenseman Vince Dunn impressed coaches so much during the preseason, he was given a spot on the 23-man opening night roster. Dunn was also joined by blues rookies Tage Thompson, Wade Megan, and Klim Kostin all making spots on the NHL roster.
“This was a hard challenge, you know, making the team,” said Tage Thompson, “but I think the harder part is going to be staying here.”
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound forward was drafted by the Blues in the first round (26th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He played two seasons with the NCAA D1 UCONN Huskies before joining the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL) after his sophomore season. Thompson scored 64 points in 70 games with the UCONN Huskies over two seasons a good amount of those points coming from the powerplay.
“Thompson was looking good during the preseason”, said L&C student and St. Louis Blues fan Blake Beeman. “He’s a big puck moving forward, who can make space with his body and create chances in the offensive zone. I can’t wait to see what he can do when given the chance to play a full season with the Blues.”
Thompson played in the four first games of the season with the blues, but was sent down to the AHL. In turn, the Blues called up forward Samuel Blais, who impressed fans and coaches during this year’s preseason.
During this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the St. Louis Blues traded forward Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 31st overall pick in the draft. The Blues, in turn, used that pick to draft the number one rated European skater Klim Kostin.
Kostin was originally scouted to be taken anywhere from the 4th pick to the 24th pick of the draft, but the Blues got him at a steal with the 31st pick. Kostin is a big forward coming in at 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds. His last season was cut short because of a shoulder injury, but has excelled in international tournaments.
Kostin grew up playing in Russia’s prestigious Dynamo hockey program, where Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin also played.
“Klim Kostin was an absolute steal for what we gave up. Kostin is fast, and accelerates like he is shot out of a cannon,” said L&C student and St. Louis Blues fan Luke Clevenger. “He is only 18, which means he has a lot of room and time to grow. He has so much raw talent it’s hard not to get excited.”
Kostin is currently recovering from an injury and he will start the season in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage. Kostin is expected to play some games in the NHL later on in the season.
“I spent years dreaming about scoring a goal in the National Hockey League. I had a little celly planned in my head. I imagined some yelling, some high fives from all the boys and a big smile on my face,” said St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn.
That was not the case as Dunn scored a late third-period goal in a game where the Blues were losing 5-1.
“I had to keep my emotions intact since we were trailing 5-2 in the game, even though inside I was thinking about everyone that helped me get here,” said Dunn.
Dunn was drafted by the St. Louis Blues with the 56th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. In Dunn’s first season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, he played in 72 games and posted 45 points in those games. He also posted 6 points in 10 playoff games for the Wolves last season.
“Vince Dunn didn’t really wow me early, but he was certainly not bad,” said Clevenger. “In his first few games with the big club, his game has shown steady improvement, and with a goal against Florida he showed that he is improving at a good clip.”
Expect to see Dunn make the move back to the AHL once defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is fully recovered from a fractured foot he acquired during training camp. If Dunn plays well, however, the Blues may need to make some changes to keep him with the NHL club.
ALEX ST. PETERS