ST. LOUIS -- With the Blues in the middle of a race for the finish in the Western Conference playoff hunt, they'll turn to a 20-year-old to provide a stagnant offense some life.
Scoring only five goals in five games, Dmitrij Jaskin, the Blues' 2011 second round puck in the NHL Draft (41st overall), will make his National Hockey League debut today when the Blues (23-16-2) play host to the Vancouver Canucks (24-12-6) at 7 p.m. (FSN, FSN-Plus and Y-98 FM http://blues.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=665869).
Jaskin, who joined the Blues in Nashville a week ago today, has taken part in every practice and every drill thus far. And with the Blues mired in a goal-scoring drought despite going 3-2-0 in five games, coach Ken Hitchcock will insert the 6-foot-2, 196-pound right wing into the lineup and give him his opportunity.
"He looked a little off-balance taking nine days off when he first came here, and then I thought the last two days ... what convinced me to give him a chance and I'm kind of excited to look at him was we did a really hard down-low offensive drill yesterday," Hitchcock said of Jaskin, who he has compared to Marian Hossa. "It was a very difficult drill, and he scored against NHL players and it was a hard drill and he found the back of the net, he put it through the back of the net. I was really impressed. He got whacked around really good yesterday down low and he stood his ground and was determined to put the puck in the net."
Jaskin comes in with some very impressive credentials. He led the Moncton Wildcats and was fifth overall in the QMJHL with 99 points [46 goals, 53 assists] in 51 games.
"Every day is better and better. I feel good," Jaskin said following the morning skate. "It's seven practices, I guess. I feel good and I'm ready.
"Everything's new for me here. Every day is something new. The game is faster and every guy has big skill. I think there will be a lot of new things for me. ... I will try to work for the team and take every puck and make some chances for the guys. Hopefully they help me, too."
Jaskin, an Omsk, Russia native, had the time to exchange a playful jab with fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko, who grabbed a media member's microphone and offered the following: "What do you think about your Russian teammate?" To which Jaskin replied: "I think I need to help him with the English a little bit because he's not really good."
Hitchcock will play Jaskin, who will play right wing, with either Patrik Berglund or Chris Porter as his center and see where it goes. The veteran coach would not disclose who comes out of the lineup in place of Jaskin, but speculation would be Ryan Reaves.
"He's practiced with both guys," Hitchcock said of Jaskin, and referring to Berglund and Porter. "He's conditioning-wise with all the skates he's had, he's ready to go. I think we need to put him in to see where he's at evaluation-wise. He brings an element that is very unique and we'd like to see if he can keep up to the pace this time of year and why not test him now."
Prior to the 2012-13 season with the Wildcats, Jaskin spent two seasons in the Czech Extraleague playing for Slavia Praha, where he posted 12 points in 63 games.
"He played in a good league," Hitchcock said. "He's played against men for two years. He came and played against junior kids and dominated, completely dominated it. But he knows what it's like to play against men. He got knocked around playing in that league. He played with Sobe (Vladimir Sobotka). We got a good report on him of how he played against men. It's very similar to Tarasenko. Tarasenko's a good player in a league where normally he would get pushed out of because he spent two years with men and he's not surprised by what's going on. So he's a confident guy.
"I see a confident guy in Jaskin. Maybe this league's going to imtimidate players in a while, but we'll see. But when you're that good in junior, you're that dominant and you've already played against men ... I think an element that he has in his game hopefully we can get some minutes in and see how he looks and just get him comfortable. With his ability to shoot and score and get into the hard areas to score, I don't think it does anything but help us right now."
Jaskin will look to use his larger frame, which has been the scouting report.
"I look like a big guy, so I need to use my body, give a lot of hits and take a lot of shots," Jaskin said.
- - -
The Blues announced Tuesday that right wing T.J. Oshie underwent successful left ankle surgery and is listed as week to week.
Oshie, who has played in 30 games and posted seven goals and 13 assists, has skated in the past week and even said that he was close to a return to the lineup, will be sidelined indefinitely.
Oshie, who was originally placed on injured-reserve April 2, was hurt blocking a shot in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings March 28. The Blues initially diagnosed the injury as a lower-body bruise.
Just on Monday, Oshie declared himself "close" to returning to the lineup, and Hitchcock called Monday's practice Oshie's "best day."
- - -
The Blues held an optional skate Tuesday morning, so the lineup could be altered with Jaskin's insertion:
David Perron-David Backes-Alexander Steen
Andy McDonald-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz-Chris Porter-Vladimir Tarasenko
Adam Cracknell-Patrik Berglund-Dmitrij Jaskin
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold-Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman-Roman Polak
Brian Elliott will start in goal; Jake Allen is the backup.
Healthy scratches include Kris Russell, Ian Cole and possibly Reaves; Oshie (ankle) remains on injured reserve. Other injuries include Jaroslav Halak (groin), Scott Nichol (lower-body) and Jamie Langenbrunner (IR, hip, out for season.
- - -
The Canucks also skated with very limited numbers Tuesday after winning 5-2 at Nashville Monday. Their probable lineup:
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Alexandre Burrows
Derek Roy-Ryan Kesler-Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond-Andrew Ebbett-Zack Kassian
Steve Pinizzotto-Maxim Lapierre-Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis-Jason Garrison
Alexander Edler-Kevin Kieksa
Andrew Alberts-Keith Ballard
Cory Schneider is the expected starter in goal; Roberto Luongo would be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Cam Barker and Tom Sestito. Injured players include Chris Tanev (lower-body), Manny Malhotra (IR, eye), David Booth (ankle), Chris Higgins (lower-body).