Will New Faces Help 3rd Line?

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New Blue Nikita Soshnikov will have an opportunity to impact the Blues’ bottom 6 forwards.

Yesterday, the Blues made a trade for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nikita Soshnikov, sending a fourth-round pick in return. Soshnikov has 70 games played in the league, with 14 points. He is 24 years old.

Soshnikov will join Zach Sanford soon as new faces in the Blues locker room. It’s no secret that the the Blues have struggled to get offense from their lower line forwards, specifically the third line. Coach Mike Yeo has tried a myriad of combinations; consistent production has been elusive.

Sanford suffered an injury before the season started, and he’s now conditioning in the AHL. He had five points in 13 games last season, after coming over in the Shattenkirk trade.

With these additions, the coach may try lines that look like:

Schwartz          Schenn          Tarasenko

Berglund          Stastny          Steen

Sanford             Sobotka         Soshnikov

Jaskin                Brodziak       Thompson

According to Hockey’s Future, Soshnikov projects as an energetic winger with skill that lose some puck battles due to his size. He was undrafted, but did score 32 points in 57 games in the KHL during the 2014-15 season.

It’s apparent the Blues need an infusion in the forwards, and while this isn’t the kind of acquisition about which I get really excited, like a Pacioretty deal would, I am intrigued to see if Soshnikov and Sanford can add some skill to the lower lines. I’m glad to see the roster churn, which began when winger Magnus Paajarvi was lost to waivers. Magnus has played in 9 games for the Ottawa Senators, with only one point (a goal) to show for it.

More production from the 3rd and 4th lines will decrease the pressure on the top two to carry the offensive load. Less pressure will, presumably, actually “lighten their skates,” and they’ll produce more.

All facets of the Blues need to step up down the stretch. The push to the playoffs separates the men from the boys.







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