To be fair, the situations between Steve Ott's usage right now and Vladimir Sobotka's last season are different. Sobotka was utilized as a spark plug to get lines going, and as a face-off winner to drive possession. So is Ott. Sobotka was placed in inexplicable places like the top six and the powerplay when players are healthy. Ott has been placed in the top six - right now the top line - due to the injury to Paul Stastny and the flu of Jori Lehtera.
But there is something about seeing Ott on the top line that is giving me flashbacks. Perhaps it's the fact that he's being touted as a face-off performer. Ott is taking faceoffs at a 43.5% rate so far this season; last year he was taking them at a 59.7% rate, so he's lagging so far. Still, faceoffs is what he is good at. Faceoffs are what Sobotka excelled at, at a rate higher than Ott's. The idea that both can be used to win faceoffs and drive the scorers they're on a line with toward the net makes sense.
Ott and Sobotka, however, are not scorers. Each scored nine goals last season, but Ott has yet to score one with the Blues in 28 games. He's only managed three assists in that time. An argument could be made that Sobotka was not there to score and neither is Ott, and I would believe that and agree with you.
And then we get a statement like this from Ken Hitchcock (via the Post-Dispatch):
"I think he does bring offense," Hitchcock said. "I just think he hasn’t done it yet. He’s a proven 30-, 40-point guy. He brings that element."
Steve Ott hasn't scored 40 points since 2009, He hasn't cracked 30 since 2012. The past two seasons, he has just nine goals each year, with 24 and 23 points in each as well.
Ott is excellent on the fourth line. He's understandable as a plug-in when guys go down. I fully understand the need to move him around when there's an injury, or to mix up lines during a game to get guys in gear. What concerns me is the potential behind that quote. Factor in David Backes, in that same article, mentioning how good Ott's "work ethic" is and I can't help but be concerned that we're going to start seeing Ott in unique places once everyone's healthy.