(HockeySTL)-- With the regular season just a couple of days away, the Blues have finalized their opening night roster, announcing the final four cuts of training camp on Tuesday.
Prior to Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. CT deadline, the Blues assigned Robby Fabbri back to his OHL team, the Guelph Storm, and assigned Petteri Lindbohm, Chris Butler and Dmitrij Jaskin to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves.
Following the final roster moves, the Blues will enter Thursday night’s season opener with 22 players, including: 14 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who is recovering from hip surgery, is considered a non-roster player because the injury was sustained before training camp.
“We are going to start it with 22 healthy bodies,” said general manager Doug Armstrong.
The roster limit set by the league is 23 players, but by starting the season with one less body, the Blues save dollars in cap space. The team also feels its October schedule is light enough to warrant a smaller roster.
“Part of the reason we are doing this is in a salary cap era, you want to preserve as much salary cap space as possible,” Armstrong said. “The longer we keep our roster at 23 that money grows as the season goes on. I want to be very prudent with our dollars.
“If we need a player, we can get him up from Chicago very quickly, but I’m trying to preserve the cap space as much as possible.”
And the Blues will have plenty of depth to choose from, if need be. On defense, the Blues could elect to call up Butler or Lindbohm, both of whom are viewed as plausible NHL options. Among their forward depth stockpiled in Chicago are Jaskin, Ty Rattie, and Yannick Veilleux.
“The push is going to come from underneath, not from outside,” said Armstrong. “I think we have a little more depth now where if we need a player right now, we can address it from within.”
At the end of last season, Jaskin was said to be a lock for this year’s roster. However, depth signings in the offseason and the opportunity to send him to Chicago without the risk of waivers, a luxury not present with other options, made Jaskin the obvious choice.
“I really like the depth we have and by doing this, it really allows us to keep that depth,” said Armstrong. “This decision allows us to keep the current players here without exposing them to waivers.”
The player who was the biggest surprise in camp, 2014 first-round pick Robby Fabbri, will not be used by the Blues at the NHL level this year. But Fabbri left his mark on the staff and has a real shot at being in St. Louis next season.
“He was outstanding in training camp, really from Traverse City on,” Armstrong said. “He’s a player, in my experience, playing like it’s the Stanley Cup. It’s his first time in here and as the camp progressed, I thought he would go down a notch or two and he didn’t. He was able to maintain his position with better players.”
Armstrong spoke with Fabbri after deciding the 18-year-old would be better served developing in the OHL this year. He told the forward that his opportunity is coming soon.
“What I told him is: when we drafted you, I expected you to be two years in the juniors and then we get a look at you,” said Armstrong. “You have impressed us enough now that if you go down to the OHL and have a good season, we have to look at you as a potential player on our roster next season.”
“He might push next year to where we have no choice but to put him on the team.”
The Blues’ final roster consists of the following players:
Forwards: David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen, Jori Lehtera, Joakim Lindstrom, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Steve Ott, Chris Porter, Magnus Paajarvi, Maxim Lapierre and Ryan Reaves.
Defensemen: Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Ian Cole, Kevin Shattenkirk, Barret Jackman and Jordan Leopold…..Carl Gunnarsson is not considered a roster player until healthy enough to return.
Goalies: Brian Elliott and Jake Allen.