Tough roster decision looming for the Blues

Tough roster decision looming for the Blues

Credit: UPI

St. Louis Blues David Backes (42) goes flying over the hip of Phoenix Coyotes David Schlemko in the third period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 14, 2013. St. Louis won the game 3-0. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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by Andrew Allsman, HockeyStL

KMOV.com

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 20 at 4:32 AM

(HockeyStL) -- With the return of Andy McDonald on Tuesday, the Blues are inching closer to full health. The Blues now have a full roster with McDonald’s return, but are still without T.J. Oshie who is out with bruised ribs. Oshie was eligible to be activated from the IR on Wednesday, but he is not ready to return to action quite yet. His return, however, could come as soon as the weekend, creating a tough decision for the Blues.

The Blues currently have 23 players on their roster (three goalies, seven defensemen, and 13 forwards), which is the National Hockey League (NHL) limit. Once Oshie is ready to return, the team will be forced to clear a spot for the forward. The question is: who should the Blues send down?

Who should the Blues move to make room for Oshie\\\'s return? Share your thoughts.

There is no obvious answer to this question. The Blues sent Adam Cracknell to Peoria with McDonald’s return. Cracknell did not have to pass through waivers to make the trip back to Peoria which made the decision an easy one for the Blues. Essentially the team has two options when Oshie returns. They can either send down goalie Jake Allen who has an 8-2 record, or they can risk sending down a forward and losing him to a waiver claim. Neither is a desirable option, but one must be chosen.

A case can be made for sending down Allen simply because he does not have to pass through waivers. Allen came up to the Blues and provided stability in net. His record says it all. Allen has been solid in net, and losing him could impact the Blues heavily. However, the Blues could send down Allen upon Oshie’s return, and then recall him when the rosters expand after the April 3 trade deadline. The problem is that the Blues’ goaltending has been so inconsistent without Allen that the Blues could slide while he is away from the NHL. However, there are negatives to sending down a forward too.

The two prime candidates to be sent down at the forward position are Matt D’Agostini and Chris Porter. Both would have to clear waivers to remain with the Blues, an unlikely scenario. D’Agostini has not consistently been in the Blues’ lineup, due to his lack of productivity. In his first full season with the Blues, D’Agostini put together a solid season in which he accumulated 46 points. Since then, D’Agostini has fallen off the radar, struggling to find a spot in the team’s game day lineup. D’Agostini was mentioned in some trade rumors last season, but nothing concrete formed from it. D’Agostini’s performance this season has been terribly inconsistent. He has only two points in 16 games. Obviously the Blues would get next to nothing in return if they traded him. D’Agostini does become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and it is highly unlikely that the Blues have any interest in re-signing the 26-year old winger, making him the leading candidate to be sent down.

Chris Porter, who also has been mentioned as a candidate to be sent down, would not be easy for the Blues to rid themselves of. Porter, like D’Agostini, would likely be claimed by another team if he were to be chosen for assignment. Judging from head coach Ken Hitchcock’s praise of Porter’s play of late, the Blues would prefer to keep Porter on the NHL roster. Porter does become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he could very likely re-sign elsewhere at the end of the season. But the Blues like Porter’s consistency and what he brings to the table. I’m sure Hitchcock wouldn’t mind having Porter on his roster come playoff time, assuming the Blues make the playoffs. Porter has two points in 10 games played this year, but he is not relied upon to score. The Blues like his physicality and his persistence. Of the two, Porter is of much more use to the Blues this season.

Both options have their positives and negatives. One can only speculate as to what the Blues will choose to do. It won’t be an easy decision, but it is testimony to how strong the Blues’ depth is. The decision could come as soon as the weekend, and hopefully, for the first time in nearly three weeks, the team will be at full health.

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