With training camp well under way and the start of the St. Louis Blues regular season slowly creeping into focus, the team has begun the process of narrowing its roster.
General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Monday afternoon the Blues had transferred ten players from its roster, signaling the first cuts of fall camp.
Seven were sent to the club’s AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves, including forwards Emerson Clark, Bryce Gervais, Wade Megan and Brett Sterling. Defensemen Dmitrii Sergeev, Charles ‘Scooter’ Vaughan and Gus Young were also among the demotions to Chicago.
Rounding out the cuts, forwards Liam Dundy, Tanner Kaspick and goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick were sent to their respective junior teams. Fitzgerald was taken 59th overall by St. Louis in June’s NHL Entry Draft, and returns to the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL, for whom he logged an .896 save percentage last season while posting a record of 18-34-0.
The Blues selected Kaspick with their subsequent pick this past draft, in the fourth round. The left-handed shooting center heads back to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, where he has scored 13 goals and notched 35 assists over the past two seasons.
These moves are merely the first of several waves of roster trimming that will take place between now and October 12 when the Blues open the season on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks. The opening day roster will feature a maximum of 23 players, so many of remaining 57 players on the training camp roster will experience a similar fate.
For those who have already been sent out, it indicates their chances of cracking the regular season roster in 2016-2017 were virtually zero to begin with. Of the demoted players, only Vaughan and Sergeev saw the ice in either of Sunday’s split-squad preseason games at Scottrade Center.
Sergeev was on the ice for 14:42 and was +2 in the Blues’ 7-3 win over the Blue Jackets. In the nightcap, Vaughan played 15:05 and showed up in the box score with a five-minute major penalty for fighting, as St. Louis shut out Columbus 5-0.
Though it's far too soon to gauge which, if any, little-known hopefuls could surprise and find their way onto the roster, Kenny Agostino could be a name to keep an eye on. The 24-year old New Jersey native stole the show in his game Sunday, scoring twice and recording three assists. He has scored just one goal in 10 career games in the NHL, but if Sunday was any indication of future production, the Blues may give him a longer look as camp moves forward.
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