As opening night draws nearer, there are still questions left unanswered. Perhaps the most glaring question is: Who will fill in for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester? Jay Bouwmeester is out for another two weeks with a fractured ankle, which he suffered in a scrimmage during training camp.
Jake Walman, Vince Dunn, and Petteri Lindbohm should all get a chance to show how ready they are to transition into the NHL. “I would think that even veteran players around the league right now would agree that younger players are coming in and they’re more prepared,” head coach Mike Yeo said. “Whether it’s the physical part or the coaching that they’ve had coming up, they seem to really step in and their development process has been sped up bigtime. ‘Barby’ stepped in last year and did a great job. A guy like Dunn played a full year in the American league … it might take somebody else a little longer, but we’re certainly not afraid of it. Those guys coming in and playing at the level they did (last year) gives us confidence that these guys are capable.”
The player with the most NHL experience out of these four is 2012 6th round draft pick Petteri Lindbohm. He has played 40 NHL games, 23 of which came in 2014-15. With the emergence of Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson, Lindbohm has been limited to just 17 games in the past two seasons.
Vince Dunn was a 2nd round draft pick in 2015. Vince Dunn posted 13 goals and 32 assists last year with the Chicago Wolves. What makes this impressive is that this was his first year playing professionally. He was named to the AHL All-Star team, and his 45 points were the most by a rookie in the AHL last year.
Jake Walman was a 3rd round draft pick in 2014 and played three years at Providence College before transitioning into the AHL. He posted 7 goals and 18 assists as a junior last year, and after he joined the Wolves late in the season, he had 4 goals and 2 assists in 15 games.
During training camp, Joel Edmundson was skating with captain Alexander Pietrangelo, and Bouwmeester was skating with third year player Colton Parayko. With the absence of Bouwmeester, Carl Gunnarson is likely to slide up and play with Parayko, as the pair have shown chemistry in the past. As a result of this, the player who slides into the lineup will most likely play with veteran defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. Since Robert Bortuzzo is a right-handed shot, it would make the most sense to insert a left-handed shot next to him. Lindbohm, Dunn, and Walman are all left-handed shots. The Blues also have 2012 first round draft pick Jordan Schmaltz and offseason signing Nate Prosser available, but both are right-handed shots.