Saturday night, during the radio broadcast of the game against the Detroit Red Wings, KMOX broadcasters Kelly Chase and Chris Kerber were discussing how each team has five real, hard to replace skill guys, and everyone else are plugs. I will make a disclaimer here - I got into my car and turned on the radio mid-conversation, so I missed what started the discussion, and therefore am, obviously, missing some context.
I did want to posit a question to you, loyal readers: who do you choose as the Blues' five irreplaceable skill guys? Some to take into consideration:
1. Vladimir Tarasenko
I honestly don't have to even explain this.
2. Alexander Steen
Steen is second on the Blues this year with eight goals, and he has nine assists to go along with that. He's a couple years away from his 33 goal, 29 assist season (which is more of a statistical shooting percentage outlier than anything else) but if he's played a full season, he's good for at least 50 points. He's even good for 50 points if he doesn't play a full season, since his 62 point year came with him playing 68 games.
3. Kevin Shattenkirk
We've all seen what happens to the power play when Shattenkirk's missing. His injury last year ruined a Norris-candidate season, but he still finished with 44 points in 56 games. Shattenkirk's the Blues' best offensive defenseman, hands down.
4. Alex Pietrangelo
Who else on the team is going to play 30 minutes a night? Last season he and Jay Bouwmeester struggled, hampered by Bouwmeester's injury and lackluster play upon returning from it, but how many teams can count two defensemen of Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk's caliber on their roster?
5. Paul Stastny
No, he hasn't played a full season with the Blues yet, and when he has played he has been on third line center duty before getting bumped to the top line between Steen and Tarasenko. The jury is still out, but the potential is there. Him as number five will probably be something to evaluate more closely at the end of this season, so...
5. David Backes
David Backes may take questionable penalties, but as a power forward there are few better. So far this season he has just five goals and six assists, but he is a notoriously slow starter. He's a solid face-off guy, and despite the fact that he has only cracked 30 goals once in his career, he's flirted with that total each of the last two seasons and is almost always good for in excess of 50 points.
These are my top five. Share yours in the comments