(HockeyStL) -- With the Cardinals in the middle of a playoff chase and the Rams kickstarting its season with a fourth-quarter comeback win this weekend, it’s now the Blues making the loudest noise with the addition of Brett Hull and, maybe more importantly, the subtraction of Alex Pietrangelo from camp.
The addition of Hull to the front office is a positive one. But it’s the buzz about Pietrangelo that will linger with fans as the team opens camp Thursday at noon at the Scottrade Center.
“Alex is going to be a Blue whether it’s now or when in the future, and if it costs us a roster player to keep him a Blue then it’s going to cost us a roster player to keep him a Blue,” general manager Doug Armstrong said. “But he will be a Blue to crystallize that for our fans and for 29 other poachers out there. He’s going to be a Blue, boys.”
Armstrong wanted to address the Pietrangelo situation shortly after the club issued a press release stating the expected absence of the star defenseman from camp Wednesday morning. The reason: he won’t discuss it publicly in fairness to those players in camp.
“For the first time since I’ve been in the St. Louis Blues organization we don’t need any one player as much as I think one player needs the team, meaning we have depth at every position,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to be forced to use that depth starting (Thursday) when I didn’t hope we had to.”
With the starting roster pretty much determined, there is still position battles to be decided including spots for the top-six defensemen. In Pietrangelo’s absence, Kevin Shattenkirk will slide into the top D-line to play next to Jay Bouwmeester.
The final spot in the top six will boil down to Ian Cole and Ryan Whitney, who was invited to camp on a professional tryout.
“Whitney is certainly going to get some consideration, as is Cole,” Armstrong said. “That’s one of those battles you have for pecking order on the roster, pecking order on where you’re going to be on the team.”
Whitney, 30, spent the last three-plus seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and posted 259 career points in 474 games played over his eight-year career, including 13 points and a minus-7 rating in 34 games played last season.
“He’s still a young man in the sense that this isn’t his swan song,” Armstrong said. “This isn’t like Wade Redden in the situation where he was older and looking just to come in as a mentor. He wants to be an impact player moving forward. We, now as of today, can provide an opportunity for that.”
Already the Blues have a feel for what the roster will look like when the season starts on October 3 against the Nashville Predators.
“It would be disingenuous to say that we don’t care, there’s 23 open spots here. That isn’t true,” Armstrong said. “There’s a lot of guys that we’ve told to get a house, 23 of them actually -- twenty-two and one guy that’s already got a house that’s not here.”
With the latter implying Pietrangelo, Armstrong said only two goalies, presumably Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, have been told “to get a house.”
It’s sure to be an interesting training camp for St. Louis with the absence of one of its better defenseman, but it’s an opportunity for some of the younger players, including Joel Edmundson, Jani Hakanpaa, Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin, to impress the coaches following their recent performances at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament last week.