Blues Weekly: Scandella, Preseason Begins, Fourth Line & More

The St. Louis Blues are back in action with preseason games starting all around the NHL. With the league back on its normal schedule, the Blues will have a few weeks to ramp things up before they open the season on Oct. 15 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. With all of this said, there are still questions about the Blues roster and who makes it. Those will be decided over the next few weeks with many players in the running.

Marco Scandella Underwent Hip Surgery

The Blues recently announced that Marco Scandella underwent hip surgery and will be re-evaluated in six months. The injury happened during off-season training in late August. This changes the Blues’ plans in some ways as it clears the path for Scott Perunovich to be in the lineup on opening night. I believe that Perunovich would be in the lineup regardless of Scandella’s status, but this makes it quite clear. Unless something drastic happens within the Blues’ defensive unit this season, I don’t think Scandella will play at all.

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

It’s unfortunate for Scandella, as he was going into this season with the need to prove his worth. He won’t be able to do that and will likely slide even further down the depth chart behind Perunovich, Niko Mikkola, and others. Scandella still has two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value (AAV) of $3.275 million. It would not surprise if he has played his last game as a Blue with this injury and the clear need for the Blues to get rid of this contract.

Blues Beat Coyotes in First Preseason Game

The Blues’ first preseason game was a shootout with the Arizona Coyotes in Wichita, KS. The Blues won it 5-4 despite trailing 4-3 midway through the third period. They played both of their goaltenders with Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer. Binnington saved seven of eight shots, while Hofer saved nine of 12. There were a lot of potential roster players on the ice for the Blues in this game, including two that really stood out in Jake Neighbours and Logan Brown.

Jake Neighbours St. Louis Blues
Jake Neighbours, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Neighbours had two goals and an assist with a close call in the third period that almost led to a hat trick. The Blues also got two goals from Brown, who is fighting hard for a spot in the opening night lineup. It was another casual game for Perunovich, who tallied two assists with relative ease. The next exciting Blues defensive prospect is Matthew Kessel, who scored the other goal in this game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kessel comes up and makes his debut at some point this season, as he had continued to develop at a rapid rate.

Also of note was Tyler Pitlick, who had two assists in this game. He is another veteran that has a chance to make the opening night lineup, but he’s always felt like a longshot with all the competition around him. The battle for roster spots will continue to be fascinating as the Blues try to fill their forward lineup outside of an impressive top eight. There are essentially four spots left to fill with Noel Acciari being a likely option for the fourth-line center spot.

Blues Fourth Line Competition

As mentioned above, Acciari is essentially a lock to be the fourth line center for head coach Craig Berube. They brought him in to play a hard-nosed two-way role, he’s the replacement for Tyler Bozak. Outside of Acciari, there are multiple spots to be filled with a lot of possible options. They brought in the likes of Pitlick, Josh Leivo, Matthew Highmore, Martin Frk, and others with the idea that they could fill in these roles.

Tyler Pitlick Calgary Flames
Tyler Pitlick with the Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Neighbours will also play a role in this competition, as the Blues clearly want him to make an impression during the preseason. He’s off to a great start, and if he continues, he’ll definitely get a spot. Another wild card in this race is Klim Kostin, who will have plenty of opportunity during the preseason to prove himself. I think Kostin will be given a chance to be on the roster, but I’m not sure how consistently he will be in the lineup. Brown has made an impression in both the preseason and regular season, and he’s still young with a lot of potential.

If I had to guess, I would say that the four spots go to Neighbours, Kostin, Brown, and of course, Acciari. The other forwards on the roster could be a combination of Pitlick, Highmore, Nathan Walker, and others, but I believe they will start the season with Neighbours, Kostin, Brown, and Acciari being in the lineup. It’s important to remember that Alexey Toropchenko will play a factor once he recovers from his off-season shoulder surgery. He is sure to get back in the lineup when he is fully cleared which should come in December.

The Week Ahead

  • Monday: at Dallas Stars, 7 PM
  • Tuesday: at Chicago Blackhawks, 7:30 PM
  • Thursday: vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 PM
  • Saturday: vs. Dallas Stars, 7 PM (Independence, MO, Cable Dahmer Arena)

The preseason continues this week for the Blues with four more games. They will have three more next week before six days off into the season opener against the Blue Jackets. They will be playing in Independence, MO against the Stars on Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena, the home of the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks. This will be another week of evaluation of potential roster players and prospects for the Blues.


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