Wednesday, November 14, 2007
NHL-No (gray) Haired League
-The brighter day in the Blues future that we've been promised was put on display in a big way at Scottrade Center last night. Wow! The three stars of the game that I announced last night...ALL ROOKIES! And it was not a concoction...it was legitimate. David Perron, Steve Wagner, and Erik Johnson...were the best three players on the ice. And against the Detroit Red Wings no less.
Perron is making it impossible for the team to send him back to junior hockey after his 10-game audition. Can you imagine the screaming from Blues Nation now if he's sent out? He is showing moves and touch that nobody...including Paul Kariya...is able to match right now. The kid has provided most of the offense that the team has put out there in the last two or three games. Sending him back to the Quebec Major Junior League is not an option...IMHO.
Steve Wagner has been outstanding since training camp started. He's poised..skates well...and makes great decisions with the puck. His long pass (a la Chris Pronger) to Perron sprung David for the game tying breakaway goal last night. He's definitely a strong candidate for any rookie defneseman awards out there. With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lighting it up in Chicago it will be hard to get any straight-out rookie recognition. And this from a guy who wasn't on anybody's radar (other than the Blues management) before the season.
E.J. is starting to get legs under himself too. With the broken foot behind him, he's getting regular ice time. Also playing the point on the power play. He's looking much more comfortable in all situations and dishing out some hits too. (Although physicality doesn't seem to be a major part of his game). Hard to believe he's still a teenager...and less than two years out of high school.
All-in-all the future seems to be arriving at 14th and Clark much sooner than anyone anticipated. With Doug Weight seeming to struggle mightily with the speed of the new NHL, and other veterans... Martin Rucinsky, Ryan Johnson, Dan Hinote, etc....not getting much accomplished either, one might expect other youthful moves by the team before the season is over. I'd be very surprized if we don't see some deals that send out veterans for picks and/or prospects by the trade deadline. We have Roman Polak at Peoria ready to play defense, and nowhere to put him. We have TJ Oshie (NHL ready by all accounts) coming out of college hockey in March/April. And several others on the horizon in junior hockey or in Europe. It seems to me that the sooner you start plugging these guys in...the closer you are to real success at an earlier date. They will need seasoning anyway. You might as well do it in the NHL and promote the heck out of your youthful assets.
It's becoming obvious the NHL is no place for the thirty-something crowd anymore.