Blues training camp began yesterday, and while coach Craig Berube is adamant that forward Jordan Kyrou will be playing (subscription required) and will have an opportunity to stay in the lineup, it’s still tough to see where he fits in. There’s a log-jam in the top nine, and the fourth line, well, the fourth line is not only set, it’s also not an appropriate place for the 22 year old center.
The bevy of talent on the team might be a problem for Kyrou:
First crack at the opening night #stlblues lineup (once/if Hoffman signs):— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) December 28, 2020
This is, of course, the team without Tarasenko. Tarasenko’s return means that Robert Thomas more than likely gets knocked down a line, which makes for a problem on the fourth line - a line that MacKenzie MacEachern already will be competing for a spot on.
If the Blues do sign Mike Hoffman, which it is more than likely that they do, it’s going to force a younger player down the depth chart, and that player will probably be Kyrou. He hasn’t had the opportunity to demonstrate his value consistently like Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais, or Robert Thomas - and right now, Thomas’s spot on the second line is his to lose.
Kyrou’s situation is an interesting one. Has he gone out of his way to sell himself? Not particularly - but he hasn’t had much exposure at the NHL level to do so either. He tends to average around 10 minutes a night, but on the nine nights last season where he cracked 12 minutes of playing time, he saw himself land on the score sheet exactly twice - once on December 21st against the San Jose Sharks, and once on February 23rd against the Minnesota Wild.
Kyrou is a talented player, but as has long been a tradition with the Blues, the team has a bevy of very qualified third liners. They also have a very qualified bevy of top six forwards. Something has to give, and you don’t want to see Kyrou turn into the guy that gets slotted in as an injury replacement. Much of Kyrou’s future depends on if the Blues sign Hoffman - and if they’re able to re-sign him after this season. Much depends on the health of Tarasenko, and much may depend on what the Kraken go fishing for during the expansion draft.