There has been some chatter lately around the different blues boards whether or not the team has any true first line talent when compared with the rest of the NHL. Some people say that only Chris Stewart has that top end talent and skill set as an up and comming Power Forward to land on a first line league wide.
To this statement I would say not so fast. Let us take a peek at a few blues players who have the ability and the skill set to snatch a first line head nod on many if not all teams league wide.
We can all agree ( or at least the majority of us) that Stewart at the present time if most likely the blues number 1 right wing forward on the team. After coming to the blues in a trade in February of 2011 Stewart went on a scoring tear netting 15 goals and 8 assists in only 26 games on a brand new team. He also turned his -10 while in Colorado to a +4 in those same 26 games. With goals like this one and this one it is fairly easy to see the great hands that compliment this beasts 6’2” 228 pound frame. O, and did I mention he is only 23 years old.
Ok, so we have our first line RW in place. Next you might ask, Hey Tony… Who in the world would you consider to be a true first line center talent on this team? The answer plain and simply is none other then number 21 Patrick #TechnoViking Berglund.
It has been known for a very long time and discussed to most blues fans were blue in the face about this kids talent. Folks, I am here to tell you that Berglund has turned on the no smoking sign and is ready to fly to new heights. At 6’4” 218 pounds this Swede natural center-man had an awakening. During his sophomore season with the St. Louis Blues Berglund came back to St. Louis under prepared for the season. As Berglund started working out with the training staff here in St.Louis he quickly realized the partying and lack of seriousness over the summer was showing. Berglund stated in and interview with Stl Blues beat writer Lou Korac on his In The Slot Article that it was up to him to train harder and be better prepared to play up to his potential.
Berglund had a much better third year in the NHL scoring 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points far eclipsing the mired sophomore season where he only had 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points. Berglund is a very talented young man. He has a large frame that with more Scott Mellanby encouragement could really dominate. This goal at the World Championships shows his awesome hands and offensive ability that make him a strong contender for that first line center spot. Here is a taste of Berglund’s talent in a compilation video from 2009 that shows more of his ability to put the biscuit in the basket. There will be those folks who scoff at the idea that Patrik is ready to take on the first line duty. I fully believe in the skill and determination that the Swede from Vesteras has and will continue to produce big numbers for this team for many years to come.
So, We have our RW and our Center. Who has the ability and the skills to step up and be a legit number 1 LW for the blues? My selection for this spot will come with a preface. If and only if David Perron returns healthy and ready to go with no set backs does any of my next offerings make sense.
he 23 year old Perron from Sherbrooke, Quebec fought hard to make it to the NHL. Practicing his puck handling skills in his hotel room daily or being the first and or last one off the ice at practice there is no other player that I have seen that has a deeply rooted desire and passion to play the game of hockey. David eats, breaths, and sleeps hockey.
Watching him work with the puck on his stick is something that I enjoy every time I get the chance to see it. He can make Defenders look so very foolish and flat footed as he did against Marek Streit of the Islanders defender. Another curl and drag past a Hawks defender with a beautiful back hand shot for his second goal of the game shows more of his talent with the twig. In 2009-2010 his first full season as a St. Louis Blue Perron recorded 20 goals and 27 assists for 47 points as a 20 year old had a great season and started to show flashes of the great things he was capable of doing. In October of 2010 David was back and in full swing.
Before Joe Thornton’s vicious blind side hit removed Perron from service for the remainder of the season David had swiped 5 goals and 2 assists for 7 points in just 10 games. Had he been able to keep that pace and been healthy he was on his way to his first 30-40 goal season. The large question mark for David at this point is will he be able to return to the blues before the start of the 2011-2012 season. The blues are still very optimistic siting these comments from Doug Armstrong in a recent interview. My gut feeling with David is that he will be ready by Christmas. I want to see the blues take a very slow and cautious approach with David.
The hockey sense and skill set that he possesses plant him firmly on a top line on most teams around the NHL. With Berglund and Stewart causing havoc with their big bodies and strength and Perron weaving and dashing around the ice like a man possessed a top line of these three 23 year olds will give many teams fits for a long time to come. It is very hard in today’s NHL to defend against size and speed. It will of course still remain to be seen whether this unit can come to fruition and attain the lofty goals I have laid before you. Each time I look back and reflect on the question of whether or not the blues have a legit #1 line I look to these three players with a smile. I am very confident they will help lead this team to great things in the very near future. Will we see a cup parading down market street soon? If the St. Louis Blues can continue to improve their team with depth and solid NHL talent it is not if but when the cup comes to the Lou!