Blues Weekly: Kyrou, Preseason Schedule, Traverse City & More

The 2022-23 NHL season begins next month on Oct. 7 with the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks playing in Prague. The St. Louis Blues will begin the season on Oct. 15 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is the second straight season where the Blues will open up multiple days after the season officially begins for the league.

St. Louis Blues Weekly Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou
Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou (The Hockey Writers)

With training camp and preseason action coming soon, it’s time for Blues Weekly to make its triumphant return to the site. Similar to last season, these articles will come out once a week and the goal is to discuss the hockey news of the week in St. Louis.

Blues Sign Kyrou To Eight-Year Extension

The Blues officially inked Jordan Kyrou to an eight-year extension with an annual average value (AAV) of $8.125 million. This is the exact same deal as the one they gave to Robert Thomas in July, marking both players as the two cornerstones of the future.

Related: Blues’ Franchise Faces Changing with Kyrou & Thomas Extensions

Kyrou broke out during the 2021-22 season with 75 points in 74 games and an All-Star Game appearance. After being drafted in the second round in 2016, Kyrou has continued to develop into an elite scorer. This was on display last season with more opportunities to play key minutes. Those opportunities will only increase in the 2022-23 season with David Perron leaving in free agency.

The bottom line is that the Blues needed to keep Thomas and Kyrou around long-term, and they have successfully done so with these massive deals. General manager Doug Armstrong has continued to hit on key draft selections with Kyrou being a prime example of that.

Preseason Games Begin on Sept. 24

The Blues will begin training camp on Sept. 22, just two days before their first preseason game. The camp roster will be split into two groups for practices held on Sept. 22 and 23 before they begin the preseason. There will be plenty of new faces on the camp roster this year, including free agent additions Noel Acciari, Martin Frk, Matthew Highmore, Josh Leivo, and Thomas Greiss.

Noel Acciari Florida Panthers
Noel Acciari with the Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The first preseason game for the Blues will be in Wichita, Kansas, at the INTRUST Bank Arena. This venue is the home to the ECHL Wichita Thunder and has a capacity of 15,000. This will be an interesting atmosphere in Kansas and it will also be good for the league to host a game in an unfamiliar place. After this, the Blues will have seven other preseason games against various foes.

They will play the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and Columbus Blue Jackets twice in the preseason. The only other opponent will be the Minnesota Wild, who they beat in six games during the first round of the playoffs last season. The preseason will have significance for the Blues this season. They will certainly have competition on the fourth line, with players like Klim Kostin, Logan Brown, Leivo, Frk, Highmore, and others vying for a spot. The other big storyline will be the Blues’ 2020 first-round pick Jake Niehgbours, who has a legitimate shot to make the roster this season.

Blues Prospects Struggle in Traverse City

The annual NHL prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, took place last week. The Blues prospects struggled with a 1-2 record and plenty of goals allowed. They faced off with the prospect teams from the Stars, Blue Jackets, and Toronto Maple Leafs. However, there were positive signs from the tournament, including 2022 sixth-round pick Landon Sim. He led the Blues prospects in scoring with three goals and two assists for five points.

Landon Sim London Knights
Landon Sim, London Knights (Luke Durda/OHL Images)

After Sim, it was 2021 first-round pick, Zachary Bolduc, with two goals and two assists for four points. The Blues lost their first game to the Blue Jackets 7-1, allowing two goals in the first five minutes. Another standout from the tournament was Andrei Bakanov, who had a hat trick in the Blues’ 8-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Goaltender Will Cranley played well in the first two games, stopping 37 of 41 shots.

They laid an egg in the third game, losing to the Stars by a score of 7-1. They struggled on the penalty kill, allowing two early goals. Another notable part of the game was Christian Kyrou, the brother of Jordan, scoring a goal for the Stars. This marks the second straight prospect tournament where the Blues win just one out of three games. Regardless of their record, they got positive strides from Bolduc and other important prospects.

O’Reilly Enters the 2022-23 Season Without Extension

One of the most debated topics within Blues fan circles is what to do with Ryan O’Reilly. After comments from Armstrong, O’Reilly will enter the upcoming season with one year left on his contract and without signs of an extension coming anytime soon. After extending Thomas and Kyrou, the team will have around $16 million to use in 2023 free agency as it currently stands. They have four significant players that will be unrestricted free agents (UFA), that includes O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.

I’ve always been in favor of extending O’Reilly with the hopes of him retiring as a Blue. He’s been a terrific player over his time in St. Louis as well as a fantastic leader since becoming the captain after the 2019-20 season. His play style will age well as he doesn’t rely on speed or high-end skill to have a major impact. He doesn’t strike me as the type of player to slow down into his thirties. A prime example is Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, who is an elite-two way center that hasn’t slowed down. Players like Bergeron and O’Reilly don’t slow down as they age, which is why extending him is essential. The Blues simply cannot lose another captain to free agency after Pietrangelo and David Backes, Armstrong must get this done.

It’s an exciting time for the Blues and the NHL as the season begins sooner rather than later. The Blues are bound to contend for another Stanley Cup and have some exciting pieces on the team once again. Be on the lookout for more fantastic content from our Blues team at The Hockey Writers as the season creeps closer.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe