Friday, October 7, 2022


Alexandrov could be surprise out of training camp to crack opening night 
roster; Kostin among players put on waivers; Rosen in as seventh defenseman

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- For those that have followed and covered the Blues felt like the inevitable was unfolding as training camps winds down.

The Blues will play their eighth and final preseason game Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Enterprise Center, and Nikita Alexandrov, a second round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, could be not only in the lineup Saturday afternoon but also on opening night on Oct. 15.

What has amounted to be the surprise of camp, the forward was on the practice ice Friday as the Blues made roster cuts to reduce their roster down to the 23-man limit in time for opening night.

The 22-year-old hasn't really been talked about, nor has been asked about to the coaching staff, including Craig Berube, during this training camp, but with the roster reduced down to 23 skaters on the ice Friday at Centene Community Ice Center and another handful or so missing due to injury or being cut, Alexandrov was on the ice, playing left wing on the fourth line with Noel Acciari at center and Nathan Walker on the right wing.

"Real good camp. I'm impressed by his details," Berube said of Alexandrov. "Smart guy, in right positions, checks, does the right things, makes good puck plays. Now, he has growing to do but he's had a real good camp."

Alexandrov, who has 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 67 regular-season games with Springfield of the American Hockey League last season, has sold his game to the coaching staff in St. Louis in a big way with plenty of competition to go up against.

"He has offensive abilities for sure," Berube said, "but sometimes a player of his caliber has to start out in a certain area in the game and be a checker or be whatever and go into more of a puck-producer for you. We'll see how it goes. He has ability though. There's no doubt. He's got hands and his vision, he has those tools.

"He caught my eye in Traverse City for sure. I thought he had a good tournament there and was very noticeable, physical player, takes the body. His details jump out to me."

The Blues are still making the decision of whether Alexandrov, at 6-foot-1, 177 pounds, will make the final cut or not, but the trend is surely leaning that way.

* Blues reduce roster by 11 -- The Blues placed three forwards on waivers Friday, including 2017 first-round pick Klim Kostin, for the purpose of assigning them to Springfield. Also going on waivers were Matthew Highmore and Martin Frk.

They also assigned forwards Will Bitten, Mathias Laferriere, and Hugh McGing, defensemen Matthew Kessel, Brady Lyle, Steven Santini and Tyler Tucker, and goalie Joel Hofer to Springfield. In addition, the Blues released forward Tyler Pitlick from his professional tryout.

"They're close," Berube said of some of the final guys cut/put on waivers. "There's not a lot of spots, right, but they're close. We had some good camps from guys that did a good job, but in the end, we've got to make decisions."

* Injury update -- Berube said Jordan Kyrou is fine and the forward practiced in full Friday after missing Thursday's preseason loss at Columbus.

Also, forward Logan Brown, who suffered an upper-body injury last Saturday against the Dallas Stars, wasn't on the ice Friday.

"Kind of took a backwards step after practice the other day, pretty physical practice, so I think that kind of set him back a bit," Berube said. "But I don't think it's long-term, I think he'll be fine."

As for forward Alexey Toropchenko, who continues to soar in his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

Some of the final steps in Toropchenko's recovery is being able to absorb contact, which he has done for multiple days now.

"Really good, strong, very strong," Berube described.

An original time line of mid-December has not whittled down to possibly being available for opening night.

"There's always a chance, right, but again, we don't want to rush him," Berube said. "We're going to make sure that he's 100 percent ready to roll."

* Defensive unit set -- With Marco Scandella (right hip joint) and Scott Perunovich (left shoulder) out long term, Calle Rosen will begin the season as the seventh defenseman, behind Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, Nick Leddy, Robert Bortuzzo and Niko Mikkola.

Projected to be the ninth defenseman coming into training camp, Rosen was quickly thrust up the depth chart with the injuries of Scandella and Perunovich.

"You never want to see guys go down obviously," Rosen said, "but it's a great opportunity for me to get started up here right now. I'm excited to be here right now and I'll just keep on working."  

The 28-year-old Rosen skated in 18 regular-season games with the Blues last season and had two goals and five assists before playing in nine playoff games.

"I'm not going to say a leg up (playing last year) but definitely confidence in myself, played lots in the playoffs and late in the regular season," Rosen said. "I know all the guys, know all the coaches and how everything works. I think that's just a confidence thing for myself and for my team too.

"I felt coming into training camp, my goal was to stick around as long as possible. It's nice to know all the guys and right now I'm happy to be here. You never know what's going to happen. I came in training camp working as hard as I could this summer to be as ready as I could. That's kind of all you can do. I'm trying not looking too much at guys here or there. You don't want to see guys go down, but now it's a chance for me to be here and that's something I'm going to take advantage of."

* Potential lineup Saturday -- The Blues are expected to ice a full, if not near-full regular lineup Saturday before heading to Charleston, South Carolina for a team bonding trip.

Friday's lines/d-pairs included:

Brandon Saad-Ryan O'Reilly-Jordan Kyrou

Pavel Buchnevich-Robert Thomas-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jake Neighbours-Brayden Schenn-Ivan Barbashev

Nikita Alexandrov-Noel Acciari-Nathan Walker

extras: Alexey Toropchenko and Josh Leivo

Nick Leddy-Colton Parayko

Torey Krug-Justin Faulk

Niko Mikkola-Robert Bortuzzo

Calle Rosen is the extra D

Jordan Binnington is projected to start and play the entire game in goal; the backup could be either Thomas Greiss or Colten Ellis, who was still in camp as of Friday.


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