We’re about two weeks out from the start of St. Louis Blues training camp for the 2015-16 NHL season and I’m excited, anxious, and ready for some hockey! We know there will be familiar faces missing this year, but there are some intriguing new ones we’ll see as well. Here’s a recap and preview for the upcoming pre-season.
Barret Jackman left for Nashville via Free Agency. The veteran defenseman was a cornerstone of the Blues locker room for 12 years and his absence means someone else will need to step up and provide leadership for a growing corps of young players.
T.J. Oshie was traded this Summer to the Washington Capitals. Oshie’s departure opens the door for at least one of those young guns to prove he deserves a spot on a top line.
The Blues also lost defenseman Zbynek Michalek and center Marcel Goc to Free Agency. Michalek landed with his former team, the Arizona Coyotes and Goc headed to Germany.
Additionally, injuries and subsequent surgeries have sidelined Jori Lehtera and Patrik Berglund. Lehtera may only miss a week or so of camp and be ready for the season opener in October but Berglund is expected to miss at least 4 months before being reevaluated.
The highest profile newcomer is forward Troy Brouwer, acquired from Washington in the Oshie trade. Brouwer, who just celebrated the birth of his daughter, quickly took to St. Louis, posting pictures on Twitter of discovered local sights. He’s a guy who has won a Stanley Cup with Chicago and won the hearts of fans in Washington. He could provide some veteran leadership in the locker room and I look for him to surprise a lot of St. Louis Blues diehards with his work ethic and goal-scoring ability. Look for him at Ted Drewes and in the opponent’s crease this season.
— Troy Brouwer (@TroyBrouwer36) August 21, 2015
Kyle Brodziak is a gritty forward plucked from the Minnesota Wild via Free Agency this offseason and adds what the Blues lost in Goc. He’ll likely see most of his time on the fourth line with Steve Ott and Ryan Reaves, the kind of line teams will hate playing against. Brodziak acknowledged St. Louis was that kind of team for him while with Minnesota. I’m sure he’ll enjoy being on the right side of that this year.
A couple other notable new faces will be in training camp on personal invitations. Two veteran forwards in Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall will, if nothing else, provide an experienced perspective to young, up-and-coming hopefuls such as Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev. Gomez, a journeyman center, will add needed depth up the middle with Lehtera and Berglund out. Upshall is a winger who will push Fabbri, Barbashev and even current forwards Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie for a spot in the top nine.
With the returning cast of Hitchcock, Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko and mainstays on the blue line in Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, the St. Louis Blues once again enter training camp with a strong roster. The departures and arrivals have shaken things up just enough that even after another disastrous spring I can hardly wait for the on-ice action to start. Who are you most looking forward to seeing make a splash in September?