The highlight of the Blues camp thus far came at the hands of Justin Papineau in the preseason opener against Boston. The shifty center scored 5 goals as the Blues beat the Bruins 7-2. Despite the impressive performance, he is far from securing a spot in the NHL. He’s still a long-shot to make the team, but wouldn’t it be nice if he was ready for the NHL and the Blues could put him between Keith Tkachuk and Scott Mellanby and move Pavol Demitra to Doug Weight’s wing?… Eric Boguniecki will be playing in the NHL somewhere this season. Even if the AHL MVP doesn’t make the Blues, he’ll have to clear waivers…. Daniel Tkaczuk started camp strong but quickly returned to his average self, ending any chances he would finally make it to the NHL…. NCAA scoring leader Johnny Pohl held his own in his first NHL camp. While he needs some time to develop in the AHL (and was sent to Worcester because of that), he certainly wasn’t out of place and his alleged lack of speed didn’t hurt him during the scrimmages…. The emergence of the Cajanek/Mayers/Varlamov line in camp has Blues fans a tad bit more optimistic about the lack of depth up front. The trio immediately developed chemistry in the 4-day scrimmage…. Forwards sent to Worcester: Greg Davis, Blake Evans, Jeff Panzer, John Pohl, Daniel Tkaczuk, Igor Valeev, Brad Voth, and tryout Tyler Beechy…. Forwards sent to their respective junior/European team: D.J. King (Lethbridge), Jay McClement (Brampton), Andrei Mikhnov (Sudbury), Tomas Troliga (Spisska Nova)
On the Blue Line
First round pick Christian Backman has finally gotten his first taste of North American hockey. Reviews have been so-so. He proved that he has some offensive flair but at times tries to do to much and his defensive game obviously needs work before he’s going to become an NHL regular…. Despite an average performance in camp, Scheffelmaier survived the first cuts and will be playing in his first NHL game, albeit a preseason game, on Wednesday against Nashville. Expect him to be sent to Worcester when the Blues make their next round of cuts…. While Barret Jackman has played well since the beginning of camp, he has yet to secure a post on opening night against Anaheim…. Tom Koivisto’s one-way contract will help him stay out of Worcester, but he could use a couple months of adjusting to the North American game in the AHL…. Tryout Mike Stuart was very impressive in camp prior to getting sent down to Worcester. Look for the Blues to sign him soon… Defensemen sent to Worcester: Dale Clarke, Lauri Kinos, Brian McMeekin, Arvid Rekis, Chad Starling, Terry Virtue, Mike Stuart
Between the Pipes
Brent Johnson sprained his ankle and never even got to participate in the scrimmages while Fred Brathwaite was injured at the beginning of the 3rd day of camp. The injuries suddenly vaulted Reinhard Divis to the #1 spot on the depth chart and he has met the challenge well. He has played parts of two preseason games allowing only two goals and posting a .926 save percentage. Curtis Sanford and Cody Rudkowsky played the 2nd half in the two games that Divis started and neither have allowed a goal. Phil Osaer was sent to Worcester without playing in a preseason game despite giving the crowd a show on the 2nd day of scrimmages…. None of the Blues’ top three goaltenders will be exempt from the waiver draft early next month, meaning that one of Johnson (not likely), Brathwaite, and Divis will have to go unprotected. This complicates things for Blues management as they will either have to take a chance and hope that the exposed goaltender is not taken or make a trade prior to the draft.