ST. LOUIS - Training camp officially wrapped up with the final preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Now that it's over, here are five things we've learned:
1. The Blues are chock full of defensemen
With Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Carl Gunnarsson, Colton Parayko, Robert Bortuzzo, Joel Edmundson, Petteri Lindbohm, Chris Butler - and the emergence of former first-round pick Jordan Schmaltz, the Blues have 10 NHL-caliber blueliners in the system. When the Blues experience injuries on the back end this season, they are well-equipped to handle them. The Blues can also turn to prospects Vince Dunn and Thomas Vannelli, along with veterans Brad Hunt and Morgan Ellis, should the injuries pile high.
2. Carter Hutton has calmed some nerves
After the departure of Brian Elliott, there was some concern around the Blues' goaltending situation. Jake Allen's ability to lead the team was never in doubt, but what if he were to suffer an injury? Could Hutton, whose career-high for games played in a season is 40, handle the load? Based on training camp, the answer is a resounding yes. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native went 2-2-1 with a .931 save-percentage in the preseason. Granted, that's a small sample size against weaker-than-usual rosters, but Hutton did manage a 20-11-4 record in the aforementioned 40-game slate in 2013-14
3. Steen-Stastny-Fabbri has serious potential
Alexander Steen healed quickly, which has allowed the Blues to fit him into a couple of preseason games with linemates Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri. Based on their play, this line looks like it's going to be a nightmare for opposing teams. There's too much quickness and creativity for this line to fizzle. Some will warn against the sophomore slide for Fabbri, but he's too smart for that - his hockey acumen is an asset that should be impervious to opposing team's scouting reports. This has the potential to produce a couple of 20+ goal scorers and a 50-assist centerman.
4. Alex Pietrangelo is ready to lead
Having an honor like the captaincy bestowed upon them may change some players, but not in this case. Alex Pietrangelo is status quo. After capturing the gold medal with Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, Pietrangelo has entered camp with a familiar combination of focus and calmness. As for his performance on the ice, expect much of the same. He will log 7-10 goals and 35-40 assists and play a big role in special teams. Last season, he was one of three defensemen to log over two minutes of power-play time and three minutes of shorthanded time per game.
5. Vladimir Tarasenko will continue to be amongst top scorers
Tarasenko's season-by-season goal production looks like this: 8, 21, 37, 40, and that trajectory isn't likely to dip this season. He tallied two goals in preseason and in typical Tarasenko style, they were in and out of the net before the opposing goaltender knew he released them. With the vision of Jori Lehtera to support him this season, Tarasenko is poised to eclipse 40. Remember, from October to December last season, he scored 22 of his 40 goals for a .58 goals-per-game clip. If he can sustain that, we are talking about at least 47 in 2016-17.