St Louis Blues Schwartz, Yakupov Leave Little Room for Rattie, Jaskin

With the St Louis Blues acquisition of Nail Yakupov and the impending return of F Jaden Schwartz from injury, where exactly do Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin fit in the lineup?

St Louis Blues have a deep forward group already, now with the early return of forward Jaden Schwartz, it could spell trouble for youngsters Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin’s attempt to crack the lineup on a nightly basis.

As of today, the Blues are looking at injuries to centermen Jori Lehtera and Kyle Brodziak. Pending the severity of their injuries, this will leave openings to fill, and more lineup tinkering for Head Coach Ken Hitchcock.

Feb 28, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; St. Louis Blues forward Ty Rattie (18) watches the play against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The St. Louis Blues defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A squad that has seen early success from veteran players, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, and Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues will likely have to juggle lineups on a consistent basis during the 2015-16 season just to fit everyone in.

With newly acquired Nail Yakupov from the Edmonton Oilers, the Top 6 will likely be filled with the likes of: Robby Fabbri, Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Jori Lehtera, Jaden Schwartz.

This will leave 9 players to fill the void of the Bottom 6. Players like Ryan Reaves, David Perron, Kyle Brodziak, Patrik Berglund, Nail Yakupov, Scottie Upshall, Ty Rattie, Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin have arguably all battled to earn their spot in the lineup. However, the slightest mistake could leave some of these players looking out from the press box instead of being out on the ice.

Here’s the Conundrum

Over the offseason, the Blues lost their captain David Backes to free agency as he signed with the Boston Bruins.

The team also lost veteran forward, Troy Brouwer and goaltender Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames. This left Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong with a group of young players to lead his team in hopes of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

With just under $13 million left in cap space for the 2017-18 season, Armstrong needs to see what he has in his current roster to make the best decision for his club going forward. In order to move two steps forward, he might have to take a half step back first.

The youth of this squad brings a lot of new, generational talent that works and feeds very well off of each other. However, for some of those players mentioned in Bottom 6 roles, this also marks a “show-me year” as they signed one-year contracts.

Players such as Upshall, Yakupov, Rattie, Paajarvi, Jaskin, and Berglund either signed 1-year contract extensions in the offseason, or finish up their existing contract this season. Being limited on ice-time and playing roles will certainly be tough for some of these players to perform, and to reassure their spots in the lineup going forward.

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