With only one preseason game remaining for the St. Louis Blues, several players have stood out in exhibition play. The Blues have brought a veteran-heavy lineup to the year with little room available on the roster. However, three players have stood out as some of the best players on the roster and caught the eye of fans, and the team coaching staff’s preseason play comes to a close.
Blues forward Logan Brown has turned some heads this preseason. After completing a season that saw him split time between the NHL and the organization’s American Hockey League (AHL) squad, the Springfield Thunderbirds, Brown seems poised to prove his worth and make a name for himself. Through three preseason games, he leads the team in both goals scored (four) and total points (five). The preseason and exhibition play should warrant caution when it comes to performance, but this feels different when it comes to the forward.
The 24-year-old was drafted 11th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft with high expectations for his offensive abilities. He is a player that scored 74 goals and 205 points over 182 regular season games in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and 29 goals and 96 points over 113 regular season games in the AHL as well. The time may be coming for him to become acclimated to the NHL and see his performance excel in the league.
The Blues acquired Brown on Sept. 25, 2021, in a deal with the Senators in exchange for forward Zach Sanford. The 6-foot-6 forward appeared in 30 games with the Senators before being dealt to St. Louis. He managed only two goals and seven assists in his time with the team. The Blues have seen their fair share of late bloomers, most recently from Ivan Barbashev. The Russian forward broke out last season for 26 goals and 60 points over 81 games and could be in line for another season producing 50 or more points. This year, Brown could become the team’s next late bloomer and become a viable scoring option over the 2022-23 season.
The 36-year-old Thomas Greiss may be nearing the end of his time in the NHL, but certainly appears to still have some life left in him. Over three preseason games this year, he has produced a 2.00 goals against average (GAA), and a .943 save percentage (SV%) while stopping 33 of 35 shots against. Greiss was signed as a free agent to backup starting goalie Jordan Binnington this year after the departure of goaltender Ville Husso. Over the last three seasons, he has spent time with the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings seeing a steady decline in performance. Over those three seasons, he has appeared in 96 games resulting in a 34-39-13 record, a 3.01 GAA, and a .905 SV%.
The departure of Husso has left many fans wondering if Binnington will have what it takes to reclaim his former glory when he backstopped the team during their eventual Stanley Cup-winning campaign in the 2018-19 season. The signing of Greiss was viewed as a valuable veteran addition with hopes that his 3.66 GAA and .891 SV% numbers over the 2021-22 season were outliers. With hopes that he can rebound and reclaim some of the level of play that made him successful, the Blues are seeing positive early signs and results from him that could prove beneficial throughout the season.
Another depth signing by the Blues, Josh Leivo, has been proving beneficial through the preseason. Through four exhibition games this year, he has scored two goals and five points. Leivo is another player that may be a benefactor to the preseason play and should have his statistics taken with a grain of salt but has also not looked out of place in his three games with the club. The 29-year-old played only seven games in the NHL last season scoring one goal and three points.
However, he claimed the title of MVP of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs after recording 15 goals and 14 assists in 18 postseason games with the Chicago Wolves, leading his team to a championship title. Leivo played the majority of his season in the AHL with the Wolves, where he scored 22 goals and 46 points over 54 games. After beating the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, in the championship series, the organization appears interested to see what they can get out of him in the NHL this year.
Leivo, a third-round draft choice by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has appeared in 214 NHL games with the Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and the Carolina Hurricanes scoring 38 goals and 39 assists. However, he has shown an ability to produce at a higher offensive rate in the AHL, where he scored 73 goals and 97 points for 170 points over 225 regular season games in the AHL. He has also appeared in 53 AHL postseason games scoring 23 goals and 33 assists. If the team can help Leivo, they may unlock an inexpensive depth player who can contribute throughout the season if he can lock down a position this season.
The Blues boast several depth players on their roster who could fly under the radar and contribute in various areas of the game. These three players should have a positive impact on the squad this season and could play a significant role on the team as they look to push for a second Stanley Cup.
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Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.