Mike Yeo has some new toys to play with this training camp. He has a couple of shiny rookies in Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, and Doug Armstrong went out and bought a Ryan O’Reilly, Pat Maroon, and Tyler Bozak for Yeo to play with.
- Pat Maroon - Ryan O’Reilly - Vladimir Tarasenko
- Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - David Perron
- Alexander Steen - Tyler Bozak - Sammy Blais
- Robby Fabbri - Robert Thomas - Dmitrij Jaskin
- Zach Sanford - Ivan Barbashev - Jordan Kyrou
- Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
- Jake Walman - Robert Bortuzzo
- Vince Dunn - Colton Parayko
- Jay Bouwmeester - Jordan Schmaltz
That looks like there are two expendable defensemen slots (one to the AHL for the first call-up and one as the 7th man), and three expendable forward positions (note the lack of Chris Thorburn in those pairings - has Pat Maroon and Tyler Bozak’s presence made him redundant? Probably).
It’s easy to read stuff into this. Look at Bouwmeester being paired with Schmaltz! JBo’s on his way out! Or, more than likely, JBo’s being eased back into the mix after a summer spent healing up - he’ll more than likely have a reduced role this season, but he’s not going to be the bonus defenseman in the press box.
The top line of Maroon-O’Reilly-Tarasenko is by far the most interesting. Maroon had great success playing in Edmonton with Connor McDavid, scoring 41 goals and 31 assists in 138 games. Yeo may be seeing what the chemistry is between Maroon and the Blues’ star winger - and obviously, one of the biggest issues with the Blues has been a consistent center for Tarasenko. Now Yeo has two in the forms of Schenn and O’Reilly.
Blais, Jaskin, Sanford and Barbashev have the highest odds to be the bonus forwards. Kyrou is going to get a long look, and so will Thomas.
It’s currently day two of a very long process, and the Blues won’t be playing their first pre-season game until Tuesday, but there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of speculation before the big decisions are made.