Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blues earn first preseason win against Hurricanes

Near-regular lineup helps out in 3-1 victory; Fabbri continues to earn his keep

ST. LOUIS -- The lesson the Blues learned playing with as close to a regular season lineup as they can get was justified with a strong performance Tuesday night.

After a rude awakening against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday in which the Blues fell behind by four goals in the first period before falling 5-4, the Blues came out with a strong effort early, got some timely goals and earned their first preseason victory with a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko (left) and Jori Lehtera (12) celebrate Tarasenko's goal in
the third period during a 3-1 victory Tuesday against Carolina.

Alexander Steen, who was initially credited with two goals, didn't get any but had a hand in two of them. David Backes, Joakim Lindstrom and Vladimir Tarasenko did score goals, and Brian Elliott was strong in goal with a 19-save effort.

The Blues (1-3-1) close the preseason with home-and-home games Thursday and Saturday against the Minnesota Wild and feel they played the kind of game they've been gearing towards for the regular season.

"I thought we got a real good evaluation on a lot of things today," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I thought we played really well the first two periods. We really controlled the tempo of the hockey game and I thought they started to play with a risk in the third and then with us killing penalties, we seemed to really be on our heels for most of the third. I thought for two periods, we did a lot of things you like, a lot of things we can build on. Obviously, the first 25 minutes were what we're looking for in our team anyways.

"Today was the most organized we were, but we've had some tremendous efforts. The effort we had in Columbus was about as good for a first game out of the box."

The first period was played in brisk style with few whistles -- at one point, there was no stoppage in play from the 14:34 mark to the 5:35 mark (8:59). The Blues outshot the Hurricanes 14-6.

Playing a heavy lineup in front of their home crowd again, the one valuable lesson the Blues learned from their previous game here was -- using a Hitchcock term -- not to throw their sticks on the ice and think they can just play.

"Win or lose, that was how we wanted to play," said Elliott, who was especially strong in the third period when the Blues had to kill off three minor penalties and five in all. "It's hard sometimes in preseason to get up for games that don't really mean too much, but the guys came out tonight and really battled, wanted to win that one, to get on that positive path towards this beginning of the season here."

Backes put the Blues ahead 1-0 just 33 seconds into the second when he converted Kevin Shattenkirk's shot from the high slot with a tip in front.

After the Hurricanes (1-3-0) tied it on Ryan Murphy's goal at 5:59 of the second, Steen gave the Blues the lead for good with 1:22 left in the second. He cut into the middle and wound up with a slap shot that beat Ward high blocker side. But as it turned out, Lindstrom also got a tip on the shot.

"I got credit for two and I didn't score any of them," Steen joked.

"Obviously team-wise, I thought we played really solid, especially the second period," Steen added. "We didn't give them much. We held onto the puck and made the play we wanted to make. 'Moose' was stellar for us when we needed him to. It was a good all-around game."

Tarasenko scored the highlight goal of the game, when he converted a tic-tac-toe play after passes from Alex Pietrangelo and Jori Lehtera with 2:15 remaining in the game.

Hitchcock was appreciative of Elliott and the four veteran defenseman that played (Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Shattenkirk and Barret Jackman).

"I thought Elliott was good, and we got really good efforts from the veteran defensemen," Hitchcock said. "I thought the four vets that we played today really played well. Lots of stuff to build on now and we can start moving forward."

Robby Fabbri, the Blues' first round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, made another strong case for himself to make the roster. 

Fabbri, who played with Jori Lehtera and Tarasenko, totaled 13:16 of ice time and was a plus-1. He made a couple strong plays in the offensive zone that nearly resulted in goals. One, he tried to thread a pass to Lehtera in the second period that was broken up by a good defensive play and then threw another puck to the net that hit the right post.

"He's not missing a beat. He's not going to go away," Hitchcock said of Fabbri. "The first two shifts, he probably was a little nervous and then he really settled in and played really well again. He's pushing for a job here right now. He's a legitimate guy that's looking for work right now.

"It might be a surprise to people, but the people in the Ontario Hockey League that coach against him, this is not a surprise. We don't have any background on him, but as I said to people before, I had his coach tell me before we drafted him that he was a special player. He's really competitive, he's got great vision and hockey sense and that was in the middle of June. ... People said he's going to push for work here. We're looking at age. We should just look at the player ... never mind the age. He's a young guy; I get that fact. There's going to be some ups and downs, but right now, he's got tremendous hockey sense and awareness on the ice that's pretty unique."

Hitchcock was actually more impressed with a play Fabbri made without the puck in the third period.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues' first round pick Robby Fabbri (15) looks to break away from Carolina
player Victor Rask Tuesday night. Fabbri had another strong game during
the Blues' 3-1 victory.

"It's not the play so much. It's this moxie on the ice," Hitchcock said of Fabbri. "He made a play in the third period ... he pushed two guys out of the zone and then cleared the puck himself. That's something a 35-year-old does that. That's not an 18-year-old. We're all waiting for the shoe to drop here, but the shoe's not dropping. He's putting it on, he's lacing it even better every day. We ought to just give him the respect that he's just a really good player and not worried about the age right now because he just thinks he's a hockey player and that's the way he's playing." 

No matter what happens at the end of the week, Fabbri has given himself every opportunity to make the final roster.

"I just go in every day with the mindset to make this team," Fabbri said. "It's nothing to talk about. It's something to earn.

"I've done my best so far. If I get sent back, it's another year to develop and come back even stronger next year."

(9-30-14) Hurricanes-Blues Preseason Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- The picture the Blues initially painted for 2014 first round pick Robby Fabbri was for him to get great experience at his first NHL training camp and take whatever evaluation given to him back to his junior team in the Ontario Hockey League.

But as the Blues (0-3-1) host the Carolina Hurricanes (1-2-0) at 7 p.m. today (KMOX 1120-AM) in preseason action, Fabbri is still around and among the final 33 players remaining in camp.

And coach Ken Hitchcock made one stern proclamation when asked about the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Mississauga, Ontario native.

"He won't go away. He gets stronger. He won't go away ... I don't know any other way to describe it," Hitchcock said. "You've got to reach a point where you've just got to say, 'OK, age is irrelevant here.' You're thinking, 'OK, he's 18 and this is going to get to him.' No it doesn't. It gets better. OK, he's going to fade. No, it gets better. To me, it's ... he's in the mix. He's put himself in the mix."

The 21st pick, Fabbri was supposed to use this training camp as a learning curve, take it back to the Guelph Storm with him and build on another strong season and come back next year for training camp with a legitimate shot at making the Blues' roster.

But Fabbri, who had 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games with the Storm a season ago, is doing his best to leave a lasting impression on the Blues' coaching staff.

"You obviously want to set your goals high," Fabbri said. "I didn't come in with too many expectations. I just wanted to come in, work as hard as I can, show them what I've got and just earn another day, day by day.

"I don't think anyone wants to come in and say this year's not my year. I came in wanting to make this team. Everyone knows how deep they are and how hard it's going to be. I just try to prove myself every day."

Fabbri, who will skate on a line with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko tonight, isn't looking back, and he isn't looking past the moment. 

"If I get sent back at the end of the week, I can go back knowing that I did everything I could," said Fabbri, who scored in the Blues' 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday. "I'll just come back next year a little bit better.

"What you did yesterday, you have to be ready to do today. Every day is a new day and you have to prove yourself over and over."

Hitchcock admitted he knew little about Fabbri before the draft but got tipped off by a crafty former NHL veteran, who happened to coach Fabbri the past two seasons in Guelph.

"Scott Walker told me about this guy," Hitchcock said of the former member of the Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators, Hurricanes and Washington Capitals. "He told me about (Fabbri) before he got drafted. Nothing registered until we called his name. But he had told me about him when we had Hockey Canada meetings there in June. He told me how good he was and all of the sudden we drafted him, now I'm seeing what Scott saw. 

"This is the National Hockey League. It's a tough league, but you're just waiting on younger players to get pushed aside. Sometimes there's rare cases where they don't get pushed aside. We just feel like, pull him into the mix, see where he comes out, and make a judgment from there. It won't be based on age; it will be based on what he does. We all want to give him a fair chance. Let's put him in a position where he can have success, not put him down and then he's got no chance. He's shown some great play here lately."

"Coming in as a young guy, I have a lot to prove," Fabbri said. "... I go as hard as I can every time I step on the ice. Any chance I get for me to prove myself, I have to give it my all."

- - -

As the old saying goes: it never hurts to have another set of eyes.

So that's the plan for the Blues, who have brought in former Montreal Canadiens great and five-time Stanley Cup champion Bob Gainey, as a coaching consultant for the 2014-15 season.

Gainey, 60, coached the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars as well as the Canadiens and was general manager of the Stars in 1999 when Hitchcock was coach and the Stars won the Stanley Cup. Blues GM Doug Armstrong was Gainey's assistant on the '99 Cup-winning team.

"Selfishly, he's here for both coaching staffs ... us and (the Chicago Wolves)," Hitchcock said of Gainey, who had 501 points (239 goals) in 1,160 regular season games over 15 seasons with the Canadiens. "I think he'll be a little more interactive with the players maybe in Chicago, watching them, observing them and working with the coaches there. With us, he's just going to observe things that are going on our own team. He has such a good relationship with myself and Kirk. It's a natural fit for us, but we were told we were not to hog him. He's going to share both teams and go at his own pace. We'll probably talk once a week on a weekly basis just on review and what he sees from our own team and what he sees from the opposition and where he sees the conference at."

Hitchcock said he and Armstrong approached the idea over the summer, and Gainey agreed as long as he can keep a low profile while looking at the big picture. 

"He's a very unique guy because he's had the experience of being a player at a high level, being a leader at a high level and then both being a coach and a manager," Hitchcock said of Gainey. "The big picture diary that any coach is looking for, like it's kind of the plan ... the weekly plan, that's what I used him for in Dallas. He kept a weekly plan updated. He was such a good fresh set of eyes. He would see roles for guys having an impact on us winning hockey games that were maybe little bit different than we were thinking and gave us pause for thought, which was very very helpful. With the Chicago guys, he's probably going to be a little more hands-on, with some of the players and getting evaluations on how some guys fit further in their careers."

- - -

They played together Saturday and will get another look tonight, but for Kevin Shattenkirk, playing with Jay Bouwmeester is another look for Hitchcock while mixing and matching his defensive combinations as Carl Gunnarsson (hip) continues to rehab from off-season surgery.

"The one thing, I think for me, especially in the game the other night ... the way that 'Bouw' recovers on plays, you kind of find yourself leaning into go help out, but you have to trust he's going to make the recovery and make the play," Shattenkirk said. "That's something where I kind of caught myself in the middle a couple times. The more I play with him, the more I get used to that. We'll see what happens. Who knows how these pairings are going to shuffle out. It's just a completely different beast to play with."

Alex Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester's partner for the last year and a half, will pair up with 2012 sixth round pick Petteri Lindbohm tonight and likely again on Thursday. 

"This is still evaluation stage, unfortunately, because of Gunnarsson not being here," Hitchcock said. "We have to find combinations we think work, so we're going to try and play Lindbohm with Petro and see how it looks today. We know what we can always go back to (Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester). We know that that works, but we're trying to get better there, so this is something that's a challenge to get better so we'll take a hard look after the Thursday game."

Gunnarsson continues to progress, but there's still no timetable for a full-scale return. He is close.

"He's kind of in that final stage," Hitchcock said of Gunnarsson. "Last practice, he went two-thirds of the whole practice and then he didn't participate in the small ice game. So he's at the last stage of getting ready to become a full participant. Once he becomes a full participant at practice, we'll see where he's at for games right now. We're going with him day to day, but it was really nice that he took everything. He took the first 45 minutes before the last drill, which is a good sign."

Also, Alexander Steen, who missed a 5-4 loss Thursday to the Columbus Blue Jackets after Hitchcock said he was "banged up" from the scrimmage the previous day, will make his preseason debut tonight. It is a lineup the Blues will load up.

"I'm more looking forward to how we look with a bigger lineup, with more players that played in the NHL on it," Hitchcock said. "Our attention to detail will be stronger, so I'm looking for more how we look throughout our lineup, not just Steener."

Hitchcock still points to the twosomes and searching for that third link, but he does like Patrik Berglund, David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

"To be honest with you, no," Hitchcock said when asked if he was closer to finding threesomes. "I'm assuming that the Berglund-Backes-Oshie is going to be up and running and then the rest is up in the air. We've got to see how they play."

- - -

The Blues' lineup:

Patrik Berglund-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Alexander Steen-Paul Stastny-Joakim Lindstrom

Robby Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Peter Mueller-Dmitrij Jaskin-Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester-Kevin Shattenkirk

Petteri Lindbohm-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Nate Prosser

Brian Elliott will get the start in goal. Jake Allen will be the backup.

The Blues are playing as close to a regular season lineup for the first time tonight.

"I think the players can count," Hitchcock said. "This is 30 guys for 23 spots; seven aren't going to be here," Hitchcock said. "But I also think the veteran players, they know what time of year it is. This was at a completely different level than we've been. If we would have played a game like we practiced (Monday), would have won by seven goals. It was good to see us get to this level now. If this is the stepping-up point for us, this is a real good sign."

- - -

The Hurricanes' lineup, according to the Raleigh News & Observer:

Jiri Tlusty-Eric Staal-Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner-Riley Nash-Elias Lindholm

Brock McGinn-Victor Rask-Chris Terry

Brad Malone-Brody Sutter-Patrick Brown

Tim Gleason-Justin Faulk

Jay Harrison-Ryan Murphy 

Haydn Fleury-Danny Biega

Cam Ward is the starting goalie. Alton Khudobin will be the backup.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Schwartz: "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else"

Blues winger returns to practice after signing 
two-year contract; report: Blues to bring Gainey aboard

ST. LOUIS -- After signing a two-year, $4.7 million contract Saturday, Jaden Schwartz filled the last piece of the puzzle for a Blues team working towards the Oct. 9 season-opener against the New York Rangers.

But Schwartz, who will get $2 million this season and $2.7 million in 2015-16, would have been a big void to fill had the Blues moved forward without him in the lineup after breaking out with 25 goals and 56 points last season.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz returned to the ice Monday for the first time since signing a
new two-year contract.

That is all a moot point now, and Schwartz, who missed 10 days of training camp, hopes to get caught up after his first practice on Monday.

"It was my first negotiation," Schwartz said. "My agent (Wade Arnott) does most of the work, but I'm involved a little bit. I learned a lot. I understand both sides have a job to do and both sides maybe have different views, but in the end, we came to an agreement and I'm really happy to be here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

"I've been skating a lot. I got a power skating coach back home, Brent Bobyck's his name, so I've been working with him a lot in the mornings and working out and I kind of had the rest of the day, did a little bit of golfing, but I stayed in the loop with what was going on here."

The 22-year-old Schwartz, who completed the final year of his entry-level contract last season, never had any hard feelings during the negotiating process. Neither did the Blues. And as general manager Doug Armstrong put it, there was never a question of whether Schwartz would sign a contract. The question was when. 

"When you're projecting term on any player, it's easier to do when they have a longer resume," Armstrong said. "Jaden had a great year last year. I think if he's a three-time 25-goal scorer, he's going to be paid at a much different rate than we're paying him at now. But we just want to make sure when he gets there, we're ready to pay him that type of compensation. We just want to make sure that's the consistent player we're going to get moving forward. I think these bridge deals are only done to allow both sides to get comfortable where players fit into the league.

"In Jaden's case, it was never any question on the year he had last year. It was never any question on his character (or) on his professionalism. This was basically a contract that got done off the collective bargaining agreement, the way we viewed it and the way he viewed it and his representative. Neither side was wrong in their position, but we both had to take a little while to understand each position before we could get something done." 

Schwartz said the process of staying away was made easier by being able to lean on teammates who have been through similar situations, specifically close friend Alex Pietrangelo.

"He was a big part of it, but there were other guys too," Schwartz said. "I kept in touch with a lot of them. That helped out."

Pietrangelo, who went through a similar situation prior to last season before signing a seven-year, $45.5 million contract, was glad to help.

"He knows a lot of what I went through last year since we've become pretty good friends," Pietrangelo said of Schwartz. "I was kind of able to help him through the process. If I could just become another ear for him, or to have someone to talk to, to get some sort of opinions of things, obviously I was glad to help. He's here now for the next few years and we don't have to worry about it.

"But I think all the guys are excited to have him back. He's an important part of the team on the ice. He obviously contributes to a number of different areas. Everyone's excited to have him back. He's such a great guy to have in the room. To add another important piece to the puzzle from last year, it's always a good feeling. I know he's certainly excited to get back with all the guys. We're obviously excited to have him back."

Ken Hitchcock will waste little time getting Schwartz acclimated with the surroundings and practices. The Blues' coach will insert Schwartz into the Blues' preseason game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild and on Saturday at Minnesota.

"Whether we play him as a left wing or center iceman, we wanted him to look at him at center ice (Monday) and we'll continue to do that through Wednesday," Hitchcock said. "If he can play that position, boy, that really adds another element to out team.

"I don't know how he felt at the end of practice because this was -- from a practice standpoint, this was way, way up there from where we were two days ago. We'll see how he feels, but he looked awfully good, especially the first part."

Both sides discussed both a long- and short-term deal, and in the end came to the conclusion that the bridge contract was the way to go.

"The two-year contract is good for both parties," said Armstrong, who also said the Blues will not have to make any more moves to get in under the salary cap. 

"It gives Jaden the opportunity to establish himself in the NHL," Armstrong added. "In two years, he'll have four years under his belt and we'll be able to talk about something with some greater term and some more certainty. I think it's a really good deal, term and financially for both sides."

Schwartz made a change from No. 9 to No. 17 to honor his sister Mandi, who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. He's where he wants to be and is ready to focus on hockey now that his initial jaunt into the business side is in the rear view mirror.

"It means a lot. It had a big meaning in my life. Obviously my sister had a big impact on me. She wore (No.) 17 her whole life. I used to back in the day and kind of got away from it. When the opportunity came up, it was a no-brainer. I kind of wanted it right away. I was lucky that they let me switch. I'm excited to wear it and it's going to be pretty nice for my family and me.

"We talked about longer, we talked about shorter [contracts]. Both sides agreed a two-year deal would be good for both sides. I'm happy with where I'm at and hopefully I can sign for more years down the road in St. Louis."

Schwartz skated on a line with Steve Ott and Maxim Lapierre, switching between center and wing with Lapierre. Hitchcock said he wants to get a look at Schwartz down the middle, and with the Blues already with enough depth at the position, it can really enhance things.

"We have so much size there right now," Hitchcock said. "We'll see, but we've got options. We've got (Patrik) Berglund, who we put on the wing today, Bergie can move back in the middle; we've got (David) Backes, who maybe could play some wing here. We've got real opportunities. This is another option for us. This is going to really enhance our team.

"The good play of (Jori) Lehtera so far has really allowed us to have more flexibility than we originally thought because you always thought where Lehtera was going to fit, but he looks like he's a legit top nine guy that's going to be a very good player for us. This gives us all kinds of options that we've never had."

Schwartz was all smiles on the ice at practice, and he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else, even with Hitchcock running a full-scale and hard workout.

"It was good. It was fun," Schwartz said. "It was nice seeing everyone at the rink this morning. I just had butterflies coming in to finally get back here and on the ice. There's a lot of lines, so little bit of rest between drills. Overall, I thought it was a good practice and felt pretty good.

"... I've been working hard to stay in the best shape I could. I haven't been here for the whole camp and those guys might have an edge, so I'm going to work as hard as I can the next few days. I'm hoping a few preseason games will help me get the legs back under me. ... It took a lot longer than what I would have liked, and probably this is obviously longer than what Doug would have liked too, but I'm here now and looking forward to catching up and being here with everybody."

* Gainey on board -- TSN reported Monday afternoon that Bob Gainey, former head coach of the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, will be brought on as a coaching consultant with the Blues this season. 

Gainey was also the general manager of the North Stars/Stars when Blues GM Doug Armstrong, who took over at Dallas for Gainey. Gainey will speak with Hitchcock throughout the season, according to the report.

Blues sticking with old reliable

After considering tinkering with his D-pairs following 
Gunnarsson trade, Hitchcock to stick with Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester

ST. LOUIS -- When the Blues traded for Carl Gunnarsson at the 2014 NHL Draft, it gave coach Ken Hitchcock a chance to ponder a tweak or two to his defensive unit.

A staple since the Blues paired them together, Hitchcock seriously considered splitting up his top D-pair of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alex Pietrangelo (middle) and Jay Bouwmeester (19) celebrate a
goal with teammate David Backes last season.

Bringing in a guy like Gunnarsson, who the Blues consider a top-four defenseman and someone who played that role on a Toronto team that did not perform up to par on many nights last season, gave the Blues options. Why not play two guys that averaged nearly 25 minutes per game on two different pairings instead of loading up at the top?

But with Gunnarsson still recovering from off-season hip surgery, Hitchcock scrapped the plan of using Gunnarsson with Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester with Kevin Shattenkirk.

How about going back to old reliable?


"We wanted Gunnarsson to play there with Petro in camp," Hitchcock said. "That was the plan all the way along, but Gunnarsson wasn't cleared to play. ... We just went back with this. This is a pair that we know and trust. 

"(Gunnarsson's) a top-four defenseman, so wherever he plays, he's a top four guy. He's going to play somewhere in that top four. He played the first half of (last) year with (Cody) Franson, which was second pair and then he played first pair, which was 35-40 games, he played first-line pair with (Dion) Phaneuf and they had a big responsibilities because they had to play against the other team's top players every night. So he's been used to those type of minutes."

With Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester, if Hitchcock didn't realize that the two were made for one another on the ice with the Blues, then he should have gotten a good idea while overseas half way across the world in Russia, when Canada didn't mess with chemistry and played the two as unit on the gold medal-winning team at the Sochi Olympics.

That on-ice chemistry was also fueled by a strong off-ice relationship. 

"The hockey side of things comes more once you get into camp," Pietrangelo said. "We kind of transition our mindsets into hockey. Obviously we got to do Olympic stuff with each other. We've become pretty good friends off the ice obviously with the experience at the Olympics. Our families really got to know each other through that. 

"Any time you have chemistry off the ice, it can carry back onto the ice. It's certainly going to help. We have a pretty good relationship. We're pretty open-minded if somebody else wants to give the other guy advice. I think that just goes along with us being pros and respecting the other guy's ability and mindset. 'Bouw's got a great knowledge of the game and he's a lot older than I am. If I can take something from him, and he's got to ask me questions, we're open-minded and we're certainly able to work off each other."

But going back to Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester was only natural for Hitchcock and the Blues. Both are minute-munchers, both play steady defense, both can contribute offense and most importantly, both know the other better than they tend to know themselves at times.

"In the short time, a year-and-a-half or whatever, we've been through a lot," Bouwmeester said. "We're lucky to go to the (Sochi) Olympics and played together there. We've had a lot of experiences in a short time, so that always brings you closer, too. 

"I think we view the game and try to play it similar. That's why it was a pretty easy transition." 

"We think the game the same, but we also think the game a lot differently," Pietrangelo said. "We certainly like to do different things. So many different things can happen during the game. As soon as you think you know a guy's tendencies, something's going to change. Even back into camp, it took a couple drills to get back into the swing of things with 'Bouw.' But we look like we haven't missed a beat and are right back into it."

Which is exactly what the Blues banked on. A lot of teams wouldn't be able to overcome such a challenge, but for the Blues, that security blanket was a nice fall-back option.

"Obviously with 'Gunnar' coming off the injury, we've got to give him some time to get ready," said Pietrangelo, who was eighth in the NHL a season ago with an average of time on ice of 25:21 per game. "But getting back into camp with 'Bouw,' we certainly looked like we didn't miss a beat. We feel pretty confident out there together right now. I know the coaching staff wants to try some things maybe with other guys, which is fine with us. I think putting 'Gunnar' in too, it gives us even more balance in the top six there and even with all seven guys that we're going to carry. Ultimately, I'm sure 'Bouw' would say the same thing, and that is that we love playing with each other. We played every shift together last year, but we're always open for whatever's best for this team."

Bouwmeester, who averaged 24:02 per game last season, said the fit seemed automatic from the moment the Blues traded for him.

"Since I've been here, we've just been together," Bouwmeester said. "Obviously you got used to each other. ... There's time throughout the year when things get mixed up and for whatever reason, guys get hurt, sometimes they're just looking for a different look. It's really not a big deal. I think everyone's played with everyone at some point. If that's what they decide to do, then we just do what we're told.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Whether Alex Pietrangelo (27) or Jay Bouwmeester (19) are in on
the offense, the other is usually not too far behind.

"It's a familiarity, and you just read each other good. We've been fortunate that things have worked out that way. But you adapt. I think the biggest difference is with Roman not being here, we've got more left-handed shots. Petro and Shatty are the only right-handed guys whereas before, we had a lefty and a righty together. We'll see how that all plays out."

Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester, should they keep their role as the top defensive pairing heading into the new season, will continue to strive to be the best the Blues can throw at the opposition. If they do, it bodes well for the guys they will have playing behind them. And it gives the team valued balance.

"You always want to be good defensively as best as you can," Bouwmeester said. "The role that you're going to play, you're going to play against some pretty good players. ... I think (we) can provide some more offense and it's sort of situational when you get the opportunities, you've got to bear down. You just want to play an overall game. It's a long season and if you can just limit yourself to the ups and the downs and stay on an even-keel and be consistent and then peaking towards the end of the year, I think that always feels good."

* NOTES -- The Blues announced on Sunday that they signed defenseman Dmitrii Sergeev to a three-year entry-level contract.

Sergeev, an 18-year-old undrafted free agent, originally joined the Blues for the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, where he earned an invitation to training camp on an amateur tryout basis.

Sergeev, from Chelyabinsk, Russia, appeared in 49 regular season games with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League last season and posted nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 22 penalty minutes. Following his stint at Blues training camp, Sergeev was assigned back to Kitchener, where he has appeared in two games.

* After signing a two-year, $4.7 million contract Saturday, left wing Jaden Schwartz will debut for the Blues on the ice Monday when the Blues return to practice at Scottrade Center after an off-day Sunday.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blues, Schwartz come to terms on two-year contract

2010 first round pick will make $4.7 million 
($2 million in 2014-15, $2.7 million in 2015-16)

ST. LOUIS -- The last piece to the Blues' puzzle moving forward for the 2014-15 season will be on the ice with the remainder of his teammates on Monday.

Jaden Schwartz, the last Blue without a contract, came to terms with the team on a two-year contract worth $4.7 million ($2.35 million average annual value). Schwartz will get $2 million this season and $2.7 million in 2015-16. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz will be back on the ice Monday after ending
his 10-day absence from training camp with new two-year

The 22-year-old Schwartz, who had 25 goals and 56 points in the final year of his entry-level contract, was without a contract as training camp opened and had been absent from camp, where he's missed the first 10 days.

But Schwartz and his agent (Wade Arnott) along with Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made strong progress towards a new contract in the past week, and the bridge term was the way to go.

"The two-year contract is good for both parties," Armstrong said. "It gives Jaden the opportunity to establish himself in the NHL. Obviously he had a great season last year, 25 goals and I think he was second on our team in scoring. He really had an excellent second season. 

"In two years, he'll have four years under his belt and we'll be able to talk about something with some greater term and some more certainty. I think it's a really good deal, term and financially for both sides."

There was never a question of whether Schwartz would sign a contract. The question was when. 

"When you're projecting term on any player, it's easier to do when they have a longer resume," Armstrong said. "Jaden had a great year last year. I think if he's a three-time 25-goal scorer, he's going to be paid at a much different rate than we're paying him at now. But we just want to make sure when he gets there, we're ready to pay him that type of compensation. We just want to make sure that's the consistent player we're going to get moving forward. I think these bridge deals are only done to allow both sides to get comfortable where players fit into the league.

"In Jaden's case, it was never any question on the year he had last year. It was never any question on his character, on his professionalism. This was basically a contract that got done off the collective bargaining agreement, the way we viewed it and the way he viewed it and his representative. Neither side was wrong in their position, but we both had to take a little while to understand each position before we could get something done." 

Schwartz arrived in St. Louis on Saturday night and will be on the ice Monday when camp resumes after an off-day on Sunday. 

Alex Pietrangelo, Schwartz's closest friend on the team, knows a thing or two about what his friend and teammate went through having done through it himself prior to the start of camp last season. In the end, Pietrangelo signed a seven-year contract worth $45.5 million and was glad to offer some help and advice for Schwartz through this process.

"He knows a lot of what I went through last year since we've become pretty good friends," Pietrangelo said. "I was kind of able to help him through the process. My dad spoke to his dad, too, just because they got to know each other. If I could just become another ear for him, or to have someone to talk to, to get some sort of opinions of things, obviously I was glad to help. He's here now for the next few years and we don't have to worry about it.

"Ultimately it comes down to his decision, but if I was able to provide some sort of guidance to calm him down or to give a little insight on where I think things stand, that's only going to benefit him. I was happy to help him out through that."

With Schwartz in the fold, the Blues are roughly $1 million under the cap according to Armstrong and no forthcoming moves need to be made in order to fit under the salary cap.

So from a financial standpoint, the Blues are in good shape. But from a catch-up standpoint on the ice, Schwartz will be playing the role of catch-up with three preseason games left after the Blues played the Dallas Stars Saturday night in Kansas City.

"Training camp's a very important part of the season," Armstrong said. "If it wasn't important, we'd have everyone start Monday. 

"I think (Schwartz is) going to be behind the rest of the group, but the good thing is he's been training and he's young so I think he'll be able to physically catch up with it. I think it's his timing. We have new players on the team that he doesn't know. He's going to have to take a crash course in understanding the way they play and how he can complement what they need and they can complement what he needs. I wish he was obviously here 10 days ago, but that's water under the bridge now and we'll get him here Monday. We have three games left and (coach) Ken (Hitchcock) will find out when he's ready to play and hopefully he'll get in a couple of those games."

The Blues will do all they can to help Schwartz, who will wear No. 17 this season to honor his sister Mandi (who passed away after a two-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia), blend in and get caught up to speed.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz will switch to No. 17 this season to honor his sister Mandi
after agreeing to a two-year contract Saturday.

"He's stayed in shape, but it's never easy when the guys are this close to playing full games," Pietrangelo said. "He's 10 days behind and obviously like any of us, it takes a couple days of training camp to get back to top speed or full speed to be where we're at. Certainly I don't think he's going to be any different. It'll take him a couple days, but once he gets out there and gets to the pace of where we're all at, I think he's going to be fine. He's such an important part of this team. I don't think anyone's too worried about him being able to adjust.

"I think all the guys are excited to have him back. He's an important part of the team on the ice. He obviously contributes to a number of different areas. Everyone's excited to have him back. He's such a great guy to have in the room. To add another important piece to the puzzle from last year, it's always a good feeling. I know he's certainly excited to get back with all the guys. We're obviously excited to have him back."

Pietrangelo, who picked Schwartz up from the airport Saturday night, not only has his friend back in the fold but also a roommate. Schwartz has been staying at Pietrangelo's residence, but the Blues' defenseman jokingly had a stern message:

"I should kick him to the curb now," Pietrangelo said. "The first thing he wanted to know was how to get into my house. He can afford his own place now.

"If I can help him out, that's fine, but he's got 30 days and then I'm locking the door."

(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.

- - -

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."

- - -

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."

- - -

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."

- - -

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.

- - -

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.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Lindbohm, Fabbri raising eyebrows; Steen OK; 
Gunnarsson has important week forthcoming; roster trimmed to 41

ST. LOUIS -- When he reported for the start of training camp, defenseman Petteri Lindbohm wasn't even supposed to be a blip on the radar.

But as the Blues (0-1-2) head into their fourth preseason contest with a "home" game at Sprint Center in Kansas City today at 7 p.m., Lindbohm will get a third game, playing alongside Ian Cole.

The 21-year-old from Helsinki, Finland was just supposed to use this training camp as a learning curve to take back to Europe and the Jokerit hockey club with him, but the Blues' sixth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft is doing his best to make a tough defensive situation even tougher for coach Ken Hitchcock.

"He has the right attitude," Hitchcock said of Lindbohm, who has played in Dallas on Monday and at home Thursday against Columbus. "Every day is a different day and every day is a better day for him, and that's his attitude. He's right there now. When the dust settles, he's going to be in the mix looking for a spot on the team. That's a horse coming from a long way's back. That's what he's done. It's very impressive.

"For me, it's his sense ... his sense and his awareness. He's got some real hockey sense and he's a real competitive guy. You're talking about a guy coming from left field ... nobody knew anything about him. We saw him play in Traverse City (Mich.) and he looked really good and then he comes here and looks really good. He's certainly put himself in the mix here now, which is pretty impressive for a young guy. He's got great size, he's got a bomb for a shot, really competitive as heck."

Lindbohm, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, ascended up the ladder quickly last season, going from the Jokerit Juniors to the second-tier division in Finland with Kiekko-Vantaa before landing with the big club in Jokerit.

In all, Lindbohm had one goal and three points in 34 games, but the way he's asserted himself into playing with the big boys of the NHL has really caught the eyes of Blues coaches. He began to impress the Blues at the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City.

"People had told me about him, other people from other organizations that saw him play," Hitchcock said of Lindbohm. "They told me about him, but this is my first look at him, to be honest with you."

As Lindbohm sat at his locker stall following Friday's practice, his demeanor exhibited exactly how his mindset has been throughout his time in St. Louis: quiet, mild-mannered and just going about his business. He lets his actions speak loud and clear.

"I like to be here. I think I've played pretty good and I've had a lot of fun," Lindbohm said, speaking with a broken Finnish accent. "You learn every day something new. Coaches tell me every day things to do. Hockey's a little bit different here than it is in Europe. It's been a great experience for me."

The Blues have 10 NHL-experiened defensemen (Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Barret Jackman, Jordan Leopold, Ian Cole, Chris Butler, Nate Prosser and Ryan Whitney) all in camp vying for jobs among the top seven. Combined, they all have played 4,181 regular season games more than Lindbohm, but that's not deterring the young Finn from making his case.

"I just live day by day," Lindbohm said. "We'll see where I play. That's my goal is to play someday in the NHL."

Added Hitchcock: "He moves the puck well, he passes hard, he's got good vision, he doesn't panic under pressure. It's going to get amped up. 

"(Tonight's) game's going to get amped up and then next week's going to be amped up, so we're going to get a better read by the end of next week. To do what he's done, there's a few guys that are impressive. Him, (Robby) Fabbri. We sent down (Yannick) Veilleux today, but Veilleux has had a helluva camp. He looks like a real good prospect for us. (Ivan) Barbashev was terrific. There's a lot of people that we didn't know much about that we know a lot about now."

* Fabbri making a strong case -- 2014 first round pick Robby Fabbri has seen other Blues prospects come and now go, as they've been returned to their junior teams for the start of their respective training camps.

But the 5-10, 170-pound Mississauga, Ontario native will also get another game tonight in Kansas City, playing alongside Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie after skating Monday in Dallas.

Fabbri could very well get cut when the Blues pare down the roster to 30 after tonight's game, but here's another player Hitchcock won't soon forget.

"I talked to Scott Walker, his coach (with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League). I spoke for a symposium for Hockey Canada in early July, and he told me about him, and he said, 'He'll shock you how good he is and how competitive he is, how much he rises to the occasion,'" Hitchcock said of Fabbri. "Then I watch him in Traverse City and he gets better every day and then he comes here and he gets better every day. 

"We all think an 18-year-old or 19-year-old or even a 20-year-old can't play in our National Hockey League, but then all of the sudden, they just keep getting better. Usually young guys go backwards. They go down. They start out here and go down, but neither one of these players who are really young people, neither one of these guys have gone down. They haven't gone backwards. They're pushing for work. Every lineup's got 12-14 pros. Now you get to get a good read on younger players. You've got 8-9 pros playing every night, you don't get a good read. Now you're going to get a good read."

* Jaskin's experiment at center, Lapierre at wing -- The opportunities the Blues created for themselves when they signed Stastny and Jori Lehtera have become endless.

Now that Stastny and Lehtera have filled two crucial voids down the middle, it gives Hitchcock the choice to try out Dmitrij Jaskin (6-2, 196) down the middle after using him there for the first time in the NHL Monday in Dallas as well as give Lapierre, primarily used as a center with the Blues, a shot at wing.

"I really like him there," Hitchcock said of Jaskin. "I just like him at center. He's obviously played a lot of right wing. His hockey sense is tremendous. I think he has the ability to not panic under pressure. I really like his sense.

"We'd like to see Lappy as a winger. We like the speed and we like the tenacity. I think Lappy's a better player when he's in on the forecheck. The way we play and the system we play, a center iceman doesn't get a lot of work on the forecheck. He's always the guy that's the safety net. That's why he's so good on PK, because he can buzz the tower. Now he gets to buzz the tower all the time and I think it's going to make him an effective player if we give him a chance to settle in for a few games."

Jaskin, who won 64 percent of his faceoffs against the Stars (9 of 14) Monday, doesn't mind the change of pace.

"I don't have a problem playing anywhere, left, right or center," said Jaskin, who dabbled a bit at center with the Chicago Wolves last season. "It's a little bit different. You have to watch the game more and figuring out where you have to go left or right. On the wing, it's just straight back and forth almost every time. That is probably the biggest difference. I like that. I like to see the puck more and have the puck more. I feel pretty good. I played two periods at center (Monday). I got a couple chances. It looks like I'm playing there again tomorrow. Just get ready for it and win a couple more faceoffs."

Lapierre, who will play on the right wing with Jaskin at center and Chris Porter on the left tonight, doesn't mind the change either.

"It doesn't matter to me. It's a different game though," said Lapierre, who skated on the wing in Vancouver and Montreal previously. "I can use my speed a little more on the wing, trying to be first on the forecheck a little more instead of leaving my zone last as a center. 

"We've got the type of team where everybody can play anywhere. Sometimes you need to play on the wing against a different team. Sometimes you need to be a center. ... The more players you have that can play both positions, the easier it is to do your lineup."

The Blues have touted themselves as deep team in the past, but being able to move people like this around without creating too much buzz speaks volumes.

"It means we're deeper. It's because of Stastny and Lehtera that allows us some options now," Hitchcock said. "Lehtera, he's just a good player. I don't care what team he's on. He's just a good player and obviously Stastny's a helluva player. But this has allowed us real flexibility we've never had before."

* Mueller keeps trying to prove his value -- Peter Mueller got his first point with the Blues Thursday, making a nifty little through-the-legs pass to the slot to Vladimir Tarasenko for a goal in the third period.

Mueller played better in the 5-4 loss to the Blue Jackets, getting another game and plenty of ice time with Tarasenko and Lehtera on a unit together.

"Once we got our feet moving and making a little bit of chemistry, it felt like we were making plays when it was coming out of nothing," Mueller said. "It's nice that we keep producing the way we are. It seems like we're making chemistry each and every day, which is nice.

"Obviously with these guys and the teammates out here, I've been working hard every day. I'm trying to make it hard, but most importantly, I just want to finish off today strong and look forward to tomorrow."

Mueller, who played in Switzerland last season, is still getting acclimated with the difference in ice zone. Playing a more north-south game is needed here as opposed to the customary east-west game overseas.

"Rink size is obviously the biggest thing and then getting used to the play for the first couple of practices, the first exhibition game, that was obviously an adjustment," Mueller said. "The last couple days, it seems everything's really been coming together for me. Some good chemistry's forming for our line, which is great and hopefully it keeps on building from there."

* Gunnarsson update -- Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson continues to ramp up his time on the ice and participation with the regular skaters while recovering from off-season hip surgery.

Gunnarsson, who has worn a red no-contact jersey for a fourth straight day, has what Hitchcock calls an important week coming up.

"This was the first time he was active in a lot of the stuff, but for me, until that sweater comes off, we're still weeks later after the sweater comes off," Hitchcock said, referring to Gunnarsson's game participation. "I think if you put the numbers together, next week's a big week for him to see where he's at."

* Steen OK -- Blues forward Alexander Steen, who sat out Thursday for precautionary reasons after Hitchcock said of was "banged up" during the team's scrimmage Wednesday.

Steen, who was supposed to play with Stastny and Joakim Lindstrom, was on the ice Friday and participated in a full practice session.

"He felt fine," Hitchcock said of Steen. "If it was a regular season game, we would have put him in."

* Roster trimmed down to 41 -- The Blues trimmed their roster down 12 players Friday after sending forwards Rob Bordson, Terry Broadhurst, Jacob Doty, Benn Ferriero, Zach Pochiro, Ryan Tesink and Veilleux, along with defensemen Mathieu Brodeur, Joel Edmundson and Jani Hakanpaa, and goaltender Niklas Lundstrom to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. They also loaned Barbashev, a 2014 second round pick, to his junior team, the Moncton Wildcats.

The Blues got a good look at all players except for Edmundson (back) and Hakanpaa (thumb). Edmundson never skated here and Hakanpaa only took part in conditioning drills.

"That part's really disappointing for us to not get any reads on them and get them on the ice to work with them," Hitchcock said of Edmundson and Hakanpaa. "That's really disappointing for us."

As for Barbashev, who played in his first preseason game with David Backes and T.J. Oshie, there was a lasting impression made. Even from Jaskin, his closest friend.

"I think it was a really good camp for him, a lot of experience," Jaskin said of Barbashev. "It's all new. 

"Next year when he comes here, he'll know what he can expect and what kind of stuff is going on here. I'm really excited about the season this year for him. He can move up with his points, he can make 100 points this year. We'll see how it goes for him."

Also, the team placed forwards Jeremy Welsh, Sebastian Wannstrom, Philip McRae, John McCarthy and Pat Cannone along with defensemen David Shields and Brett Regner on waivers for the purpose of sending those players to the Wolves.