It’s almost that time! We are now just under two weeks away from opening night for the St. Louis Blues, who open the regular season with a match up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 15th at Enterprise Center.
It’s absolutely crazy to think that we’ve already made it to this point, as training camp across the NHL concludes and preseason games get played. So, with training camp for St. Louis being just about done, let’s go over the three biggest standouts from camp.
Note: These are in no particular order.
Logan Brown, Forward, 24 years old
I think it’s fair to say that this is going to be a “prove it” type of year for Logan Brown, who the Blues acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the summer of 2021. This is the year where the St. Louis native has to show big steps of improvement. Throughout training camp, Brown was getting a lot of reps with everyday players in the lineup, such as Ivan Barbashev and Noel Acciari.
To say Brown has looked good is an extreme understatement. He has used his 6’6 227 lbs. build incredibly well during camp. He was extremely powerful with the puck, consistently winning puck battles on the boards. He also notably had multiple passes during drills that you would expect to see out of other guys, like Robert Thomas or Jordan Kyrou. His shot also looked insanely quick for a player of his build, he most notably took a pass from Martin Frk right in the slot, and used his quick release to go top shelf on Joel Hofer. I was extremely impressed with Logan Brown throughout the entirety of camp, and I can’t wait to see him use his power on the puck and his impressive skill set during the season.
Jordan Binnington, Goalie, 29 years old
We all know the situation in net for St. Louis. Ville Husso is gone, Thomas Greiss is in. It’s Jordan Binnington’s net once again for St. Louis. It’s likely that Binnington will be playing at least 55 games this season, and he needs to come through. He needs to show that he’s the guy, and he definitely showed that during training camp. There’s a completely different kind of emotion from him when watching him at camp. He’s more focused. He looks smarter when he plays the puck (which has somehow gotten even better), and his positioning looks incredible. He made the routine saves with ease, and he made the difficult saves easily as well. His movement in the crease looked incredibly quick. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player, and especially not a goalie, that knows what’s at stake more than Binnington. He knows what happened last year, and he’s coming back with a vengeance. He’s going to be depended on heavily by the Blues’ defense, and based off what I saw, he is 100% ready.
Jake Neighbours, Forward, 20 years old
What an unbelievable run that Jake Neighbours is having right now. During a nine game stint with the Blues last season, he gets his first NHL goal. Then, he goes back to the WHL, where he captains the Edmonton Oil Kings to a WHL championship. Finally, he comes back to St. Louis, and has an absolutely incredible camp.
It’s funny, the one thing I was worried about when the Blues drafted Neighbours in 2020 was his skating. He has drastically improved that skating. He was absolutely flying during every single drill he was in at camp, using extremely quick crossovers to gain even more speed. Every other trait was also extremely good for Neighbours, as his senses, shot, and ESPECIALLY his playmaking ability, have been superb. He is absolutely ready for an everyday spot in the NHL, and I absolutely believe that he can translate his incredible 2021-22 season to a great career in St. Louis.
So, there it is. Those three were the guys that stood out on nearly every drill that they were in, and had an incredibly strong camp overall. I’d expect to see big years out of all three of them, when they all need the big year. Now we can only hope that they translate their play during camp to the regular season.