Summer is in full swing, so most are thinking about swimming in the water rather than skating on it, but the NHL season is actually in the making right now, and the St. Louis Blues are hot with action.
After a season that concluded with two series wins in the Stanley Cup playoffs, coach Hitchcock’s skill managed a roster that had been ripe with injuries throughout the season. Team orthopedic doctors, the sports medicine specialists, and player determination salvaged what could have been a disastrous season. Instead the Blues dispatched the defending-champion Chicago Black Hawks in the first round and the pesky Dallas Stars in the second, to move into the conference finals for the first time since 2001. All in all, the Blues made St. Louis proud.
However, free agent departures of Scottie Upshall, Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak, Troy Brouwer, and captain David Backes raise significant questions for the 2016-2017 campaign. According to The Hockey News, Backes’ time may have been up, given his contract expectations. Blues fans are sorry to see him go.
Not to worry. The young talent on the Blues is brimming, and every team goes through regenerative growth processes. Not only will Hitchcok remain behind the bench but also he will have young players such as Jaden Schwartz, Dmitrij Jaskin, and Robby Fabri to combine with veterans Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund to buzz the net on offense.
On the blue line, Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo are moving into leadership roles, and, while the question about Kevin Shattenkirk remaining with the team hangs over our boys in blue, he still has his spot on the power play and the roster.
Perhaps most thrilling are the two prospects, center Ivan Barbashev and defenseman Jake Walman. Certainly, NHL scouts tout both as top-35 prospects from 2016, but Walman comes from the Providence Friars with an NCAA national championship under his belt. He looks to be one of the next super-special, forward-leaning defensemen, like the Philadelphia Flyer’s newest star Shayne Gotisbehere, who came from Union College after winning the NCAA championship in 2014.
In short, the 2016-2017 season promises to be as exciting as the weather is hot in St Louis this summer. Look for the seasoned veterans to mix with unbridled young talent, and if you need orthopedic care to stay healthy and fulfill your promise, contact us here at Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine.