Saturday, September 27, 2014

(9-27-14) Stars-Blues Preseason Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- It appears that the Blues and Jaden Schwartz are on the verge of announcing a new contract at any time.

The 22-year-old Schwartz, who had 25 goals and 56 points in the final year of his entry-level contract, has been without a contract and has been a no-show at training camp, where he's missed the first 10 days.

But it has been learned that Schwartz and his agent Wade Arnott along with Blues general manager Doug Armstrong have made positive progress towards a new contract in the past week, which is believed to be a short-term bridge contract of one or two years. But no contract terms have been made available yet.

If Schwartz's signing becomes official as early as today, he could be on the ice with the team by Monday, as the Blues will be off Sunday after facing the Dallas Stars in Kansas City today at 7 p.m.

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The Blues have made five more roster cuts, bringing their camp roster down to 37 players after assigning forwards Cody Beach, Pat Cannone, Sebastian Wannstrom and Jeremy Welsh as well as defenseman David Shields to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. 

Welsh, Wannstrom, Shields, Cannone, Brent Regner, Philip McRae and John McCarthy all cleared waivers and became eligible this morning to be assigned to the Wolves. Regner, McRae and McCarthy are playing with the Blues tonight and will likely be assigned either after the game or tomorrow morning.

Also possibly playing his last game is Ty Rattie, the Blues' second round pick in 2011 who led the Wolves with 31 goals last season.

Rattie, 21, is taking it like this will be his last game and hopes to have made a lasting impression from another training camp that he feels went well.

"Yesterday was possibly your last practice or tonight is the last game so you've got to be at your best at all times," Rattie said. "I feel good. I felt really good this morning. Going into the game, I feel the same way. You've got to leave a lasting impression, so if something happens tomorrow and I play good tonight, then I know my last impression's a good one.

"I feel a lot stronger than I have the past couple of years. I've learned to play with the new weight that I've put on. I don't think I've lost any speed or anything like that, which is good. It's always a challenge coming into a team, especially St. Louis with how many good players they have and the depth they have. I've learned a lot and I think I'm a batter player because of it in the last week."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock feels like he has a player that can be trusted at this level. Rattie, who's put on 26 pounds since he was drafted (mostly upper-body weight), has given the veteran coach every reason to believe.

"With young players, you're looking for growth," Hitchcock said. "There is no question of what he does well. He's got an innate ability to be able to find the net. He's got this gift. The puck follows him around the ice in the scoring areas. He knows the quiet spots to go to to find loose pucks to score goals. That's a given. With all young players, you're talking about your value system, and the value system for me is in his growth. The only way you get the puck back in the National Hockey League is you have to check it back. Nobody's going to give it to you. You don't get teams that give you the puck very easily. ... That's going to be the deciding factor when he gets to stay here full time. 

"He's had tremendous growth in the last 12 months, tremendous growth. Now you're looking for consistency in thaty growth where you understand that nobody gives you anything free in this league. You've got to go and get it back. When that level becomes consistent, which we hope it does right away, we think that this is going to give him along career because he has a gift that, man, it's pretty hard to deny that gift. Not many people have the gift that he has. ... There's no doubt he's going to be a good NHL player. There's no doubt at all, but it's kind of like, 'When? When is he going to be in the NHL?' A lot is going to be decided by him because he has an element that every team in the National Hockey League needs badly. Every team needs what he brings to the table."

Whether he's among the final 30-32 that will take it up until the final cuts are made for the 23-man roster, Rattie will look to go out with a bang tonight if it's his last night here.

"You just want to have the best camp possible," Rattie said. "You come in and you see the roster and it's not going to be easy to crack this squad right away. 

"I want to be on their mind, I want to be the first guy they think of if they run into injury problems or something like that."

Hitchcock said Rattie's done that.

"He needed to take the guessing out of his game," Hitchcock said. "The value system in professional hockey is all based on trust. He needed to put himself in a position on the ice where the other guys on his line, the D-pairs that he's playing with, they can all trust him. That's where he's at. Right now, that's really important that he understands that trust system so he's doing his job so somebody can do their job. He's just got to be consistent for it to work."

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Goalie Jake Allen, who played in the first preseason game at Columbus a week ago Sunday, will likely get an entire game tonight after playing two periods against the Blue Jackets.

He's looking to build off of allowing three goals on just 11 shots.

"I've just got to get back in the game feel," Allen said. "The first game out of the way was sort of just to get the feet back. It's going to be fun in Kansas City tonight. Just keep building on each game, keep getting better each game up to October 9th."

Hitchcock said he's been happy with both Allen and Brian Elliott.

"He's had a helluva camp," Hitchcock said of Allen. "Both guys have played really well."

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Hitchcock was asked about Colin Fraser, who signed a one-year, two-way contract and is competing for a role on the fourth line after being in the Los Angeles Kings organization last season. Fraser won a Stanley Cup in 2010 with Chicago and 2012 with the Kings. 

"As advertised," Hitchcock said of Fraser, 29. "Consistent, strong, detailed guy. Got a winner's mentality. He's great on the bench, great in the room. Really good. There's a reason he wins all the time now. Really impressive for me."

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The Blues' lineup tonight against the Stars:

Robby Fabbri-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie

Steve Ott-Patrik Berglund-Ty Rattie

Chris Porter-Dmitrij Jaskin-Maxim Lapierre

John McCarthy-Philip McRae-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Kevin Shattenkirk

Petteri Lindbohm-Ian Cole

Jordan Leopold-Brent Regner

Jake Allen will get the goal tonight and likely play the entire game. Jordan Binnington will be the backup.

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The Stars' projected lineup, as posted by the Dallas Morning News:

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Erik Cole

Curtis McKenzie-Travis Morin-Patrick Eaves 

Dominic Roussel-Radek Faksa-Matej Stransky 

Derek Hulak-Justin Dowling-Branden Troock

Alex Goligoski-Jyrki Jokipakka 

Jamie Oleksiak-Derek Meech 

Patrik Nemeth-Kevin Connauton

Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas are the goalies.

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