Blues News & Rumors: O’Reilly, World Juniors, and More

Welcome to St. Louis Blues News & Rumors, a weekly article covering all things Blues.

Here’s a look at the news and happenings for the Blues over the past week.

Rumor: Maple Leafs Interested in O’Reilly

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun recently reported that the Blues are expected to listen to their pending UFA (unrestricted free agent) captain, Ryan O’Reilly in the new year. LeBrun believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have discussed internally acquiring the Stanley Cup champion and playoff MVP from the 2018-19 season. (from ‘NHL trade board 2022-23: Bo Horvat tops our initial list of 25 players to watch’, The Athletic NHL – 12/15/22)

RELATED: A Blues Sit-Down with The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy

The Blues currently have 14 players under contract for the 2023-24 season and an estimated $12.8 million in cap space to re-sign or add new players. Currently tied for the highest contract value in the Blues organization this season, O’Reilly is in the final year of his seven-year, $52,500,000 contract that he signed on July 3, 2015, with the Buffalo Sabres.

Rosters Finalizing Ahead of World Juniors

Bolduc Cut by Team Canada

Blues forward prospect, Zachary Bolduc, was cut from Team Canada’s roster ahead of the World Junior Championship. On Tuesday, the roster was finalized, announcing that he would not be representing his country. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler said of Bolduc’s roster cut:

“Outside of a couple of clever plays with the puck to slip away from a check, Bolduc wasn’t particularly noticeable in the opener for me. He was better in the second game, with a couple of nice passes under triangles and a pair of Grade A chances backdoor that he couldn’t finish. He was going to have to produce to make the team, though, and he didn’t do that in his two games unfortunately.”

After breaking out in the 2021-22 season with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he scored 55 goals and 99 points over 65 games, he continued to light the league on fire producing eight goals and 12 points in 12 playoff games. Bolduc appeared in the preseason for the Blues this year but was reassigned to his junior team on Oct. 2. This season, he continues to demand the puck and impress with his offensive talents scoring 15 goals and 43 points in 24 regular season games, a 111-point pace over 62 games.

Snuggerud to Represent Team USA

Drafted 23rd overall by the Blues in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Jimmy Snuggerud has taken the NCAA by storm this year scoring an overwhelming 12 goals and 27 points over 20 games. After earning an invitation to play for Team USA at the World Juniors, it was announced Friday that he would represent his country in the upcoming tournament. He recently appeared for Team USA in the World Juniors Under-18 tournament scoring three goals and seven points in six games. He is expected to play on the top line with University of Minnesota teammate Logan Cooley.

Kaskimäki Makes Team Finland Roster

Team Finland announced their roster for the tournament Wednesday, including Blues forward prospect, Aleksanteri Kaskimäki. This year, the 18-year-old has played for HIFK in Helsinki, Finland, in the Liiga, the top-level league in Finland. According to McKeen’s hockey scouting:

“Kaskimäki is a hustler who looks to create space for his wrist shot, a preferred weapon that has exceptional velocity. Shifty in tight corners, he makes optimal use of his husky build to protect the puck and bully his way through traffic. Give him space and he can deke. He is also very comfortable moving through traffic and parking himself in the opposition slot. Overall, Kaskimäki is a raw player who St. Louis can be patient with over the next few seasons.”

Toropchenko Returns, Brown Assigned to Springfield

The Blues have recalled forward Alexei Toropchenko from his 14-day conditioning assignment with their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. The 23-year-old posted three points (one goal, two assists) over five games during his assignment. He returned to the Blues ahead of their game against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night. This season, the 6-foot-6, 222-pound forward has collected one goal and six penalty minutes in 15 appearances.

Logan Brown St. Louis Blues
Logan Brown, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ahead of the club’s game against the Oilers, they announced forward Logan Brown was reassigned to Springfield on a conditioning assignment. The 24-year-old has missed the last 18 games due to an upper-body injury. Of his AHL assignment, Blues head coach Craig Berube said: “Going down and playing some games is going to help. He needs the game action. That will help him be more prepared when he’s ready to go up here.”

Binnington Records 100 Wins

After shutting out the Nashville Predators in a 1-0 victory, Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington recorded his 100th career win in the NHL. His victory marked him as the sixth goaltender in Blues history to record 100 wins. It is within reason that he could surpass Brian Elliott (104 wins) and Grant Fuhr (108 wins) and finish the season as the fourth-winningest goaltender in Blues franchise history.

Binnington joins Mike Liut, Jake Allen, Curtis Joseph, Fuhr, and Elliott in the Blues’ 100-win club. He reached 100 wins in just 184 games played, becoming the third-fastest Blues goaltender to do so. Only Elliott (175 games played) and Allen (176 games played) accomplished the feat faster.

Blues Ink Gaudet to Entry-Level Contract

The Blues have agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract with defenseman Marc-Andre Gaudet. The 19-year-old has played 30 games with the Quebec Major Junior League’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens this season, posting eight goals and 25 points, along with a plus-9 rating.

Gaudet was selected by the Blues in the fifth round (No. 152 overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft.

The Blues will take on the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 19, at 9:30 PM CST. For more Blues insight and live interaction, get involved in the conversation on Twitter.