5 Players Who Could Surprise & Make the Blues’ Roster

The St. Louis Blues‘ roster is fairly set heading into training camp, with a few spots up for grabs. The bottom six forward lines have one to two wings open, as well as a bench spot. On defense, Marco Scandella is expected to be placed on long-term injured reserve soon, but the Blues likely only have bench spots available. Taking a look at the training camp roster, five players could surprise and make the team.

Tyler Pitlick

Forward Tyler Pitlick is the only player brought into training camp on a professional tryout (PTO). The well-traveled veteran has scored 89 points (48 goals, 41 assists) in 325 games over eight seasons between six different teams (Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens). Pitlick is a true fourth liner – solid defensively, physical, and can help on the penalty kill. The fact that he’s a veteran who already knows his role should give him a leg up to earning a roster spot.

Related: Blues’ Scandella Injury Will Give These 4 Defensemen a Chance

Matthew Highmore

Left-winger Matthew Highmore is another NHL veteran who has a chance at a fourth-line or bench spot on the Blues. He’s played in 137 games over four seasons between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks. Last season in Vancouver, he put up career-highs in games(47), goals (5), assists (7), and average ice time (12:42). Similar to Pitlick, Highmore can be relied upon to kill penalties and is sound on the forecheck and backcheck.

Matthew Highmore Vancouver Canucks
Matthew Highmore, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Head coach Craig Berube had this to say about Pitlick and Highmore after the Blues’ 5-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes in the preseason opener: “There’s other guys, too, that competed and forechecked hard. They’re role players. They’re guys that give you energy, they’re physical players” (from ‘A healthy Jordan Binnington in ‘good spot’ as Blues open preseason with win,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 25, 2022).

Martin Frk

With the hardest shot in hockey, forward Martin Frk has the skills to play on either the third or fourth line if the opportunity arises. Although he only played six games with two points (two goals) in 2021-22 with the Los Angeles Kings, he scored 73 points (40 goals, 33 assists) in 58 regular-season games with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League (AHL). He recorded an assist against the Coyotes this preseason, sending a shot toward the net that was tipped in by Jake Neighbours. If given the minutes, Frk could get a real chance to produce for the Blues.

Tyler Tucker

A former seventh-round pick in 2018, defenseman Tyler Tucker is on the cusp of making the NHL club. Scandella is expected to be out until at least March, so the organization’s defensive depth will come in handy this season, and Tucker should benefit the most. He was called up briefly in May 2021 but was sent back to the AHL after serving one game on the Blues’ bench. The big club is already deep with left-handed defenders, but it may only take one preseason injury for him to get his chance.

Related: Blues 2022-23 Training Camp Roster Breakdown & Predictions

Luke Witkowski

Defenseman Luke Witkowski was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings last season along with Nick Leddy. He’s known for being an extremely aggressive stay-at-home defender. His right-handed shot doesn’t lend itself to scoring much, but it’s generally not needed, given his style. He’s shown a willingness to drop the mitts throughout his career, with 961 penalty minutes in 434 minor-league games. At 32 years old, Witkowski could find his way to St. Louis after camp if Robert Bortuzzo goes down with an injury or if the team wants to carry eight defensemen and needs one of them to be an enforcer.

It’s likely that at least one of these five players makes the Blues’ big club when the preseason ends on Saturday, Oct. 8. It’s just as likely that a name not mentioned here makes the cut. But these five players are all worth watching over the next few weeks to see who ups their game.

What do you think of these five players? Is there someone I didn’t mention that you think has a better chance to make the Blues’ roster? Comment below and let me know!