Training camps in the NHL can be odd. Sometimes there are players that surprise, that emerge from obscurity and open a bunch of eyes, score a bunch of goals in scrimmages and preseason games. But more often than not, players perform pretty much as expected. Teams go into the season with the same roster they anticipated going into camp.
The Blues, however, do have a camp surprise this year – RW Samuel Blais. In last night’s first preseason game, he scored 2 goals against the Stars and drew 3 penalties, while playing on the top line with Alex Steen and Robby Fabbri. He played like he belonged there.
I didn’t know much about Blais before camp started. I was familiar with the name, but it seems like he was pretty far down the prospect list. But he has 71 goals and 178 points in 149 games played in the QMJHL. Last season, he played with the Wolves and scored 26 goals in 75 games. Those are solid numbers. And he has some size. Hockeydb.com has him listed at 6’1 and 181 pounds.
Part of why Blais has gone somewhat unnoticed so far can be attributed to his draft position. He was taken in the 6th round in 2014. The NHL draft has just 7 rounds, so that’s pretty deep into it. Not many players from that low make it to regular playing time in the league.
With the loss of both David Backes and David Perron the past couple of years, there is a definite opening on the right side. Tarasenko is locked into the top line, but after that it’s a bit thin. Blais is making the most of his opportunity, and the coaching staff is giving him a long look.
I look forward to seeing what he does in the remaining preseason games. Thanks for reading.