I'm horribly sorry for the pun in today's title. I am currently running on about four hours of sleep, had to talk about fascism *all day long*, and now I get to sit here until 5 (4 Central) listening to 7 high school boys yell at each other about policy debate. I know that's not a viable excuse for bad pun-age, but it is seriously the best that I can manage right now.
Anywho, for those of you who are not as sleep deprived as some of us, the title is in reference to our youngest defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo. The article in this morning's Post Dispatch raises a question for the Blues, the ownership, and the fans hanging in the balance - do we let half of our 2nd coming of MacInnis and Pronger go back to juniors?The Blues are carrying eight defensemen right now: Brewer, Jackman, Polak, Colaiacovo, Johnson, Weaver, Sydor, and Pietroangelo. Steen is going to have to return here eventually, probably sooner than later, which means that someone on our roster is going to have to be moved. That, and the next game that he is on the ice for is the magic 9th game, after which the team needs to decide to keep him up here, or send him to his OHL team, the Ice Dogs (he is too young per AHL rules to be sent to the Rivermen). Despite being a scratch for the past three games, no one has had a negative thing to say, but would anyone say something bad about a 19 year old first rounder who is trying his hardest to stay in the league?
Let Him Go
You can make a valid argument for sending him back to Juniors, albiet it is focused more on the team and less on him as a player - we already have seven defensemen. Yes, one of them is the constant talk of 100111001 and whatnot, and the other is yelled at for every atrocious play on the ice regardless of if it's fault or not. But they're both serviceable and they have both paid their league dues. There is nowhere for them to go but a trade, but that trade'll get us probably a few forwards, and then we'll be having this discussion about one of our young kids.
If we can't move Brewer or Jackman, that leaves either Weaver or Pietroangelo to be moved. Weaver could be moved to the Rivermen, but has shown enough competency at the NHL level to warrant him staying put. Petro, if sent down, doesn't lose a year of contract eligibility, gets to hone his skills, and develop a little more for next year. That, and if all else fails and we need to call someone up, we could always call up Junland, though that would deprive Peoria of one of their top scorers.
One other thing is that Petro gets no ice time with his butt in the pressbox. How does he get better without practice?
Keep Him Here
Petro might still be learning the ropes and is prone to rookie mistakes, but would we rather see that from a rookie with room for improvement, or a vet who should just flat out know better? Petro has a tremendous skill set that can only improve with ice time if put out there. He has chemistry with Johnson, and quite frankly he's too good for the OHL.
Look at that. How do you justify a defenseman who can net 40 assists with his eyes blindfolded going back to someplace where he's going to stagnate? Very few people in that league have the skills to challenge him to raise his game - he gets that at the NHL level every night. Even when he's on the bench, he can still watch and learn. He's never going to get any better at the OHL level. Unfortunately, with his age, he can't go to the AHL, which is a skill set that could do him some good. His choices are either stagnate or work up to a new level, and Petro seems like he's a quick study.