Jaskin and the Evolving Bottom Six

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Dmitrij Jaskin filled a useful role and now will take his talents to Capitals’ AHL affiliate.

I’m not surprised to see that Dmitrij Jaskin was claimed by the Washington Capitals. While it’s certainly disappointing to see him go, the Blues have several options on their fourth line as it is. Let’s look at those here.

Last season Jaskin was often penciled in on the Blues third line, as well as the fourth. His production, though, of 17 points is not enough to be a regular third-liner. But last season, to be fair, there weren’t many forwards that produced enough to be properly categorized as third liners. Coach Mike Yeo had the nightly task of assembling the bottom 6 forwards,  a task which became even more challenging with the departure of Paul Stastny. Really, he had a stable full of fourth liners at his disposal.

Much of that cast has moved on. In addition to Jaskin, Thorburn isn’t on the roster (AHL); Brodziak wasn’t resigned; Sobotka and Thompson were traded (along with Berglund). Replacing them is a mix of veteran and youthful skill players. Just look at how last season’s bottom six contrasts with this year’s Opening Night:

2017/2018

Jaskin       Brodziak       Soshnikov
Sobotka    Barbashev   Thorburn

2018 Opening Night

Steen             Bozak          Perron
Barbashev    Thomas      Blais

That is just miles better, all the way around. This is bottom six that should (fingers crossed), actually score more than once a fortnight. That third line alone is a veteran one, each more than capable of lighting the lamp consistently. That trio of Steen, Bozak and Perron had 42 goals between them. That’s legitimate third line production. Do you know how many that particular third line had, from last year? Just 17.

How will the fourth line play? If the preseason is a good indicator, the answer is likely to be quite well. Barbashev is entering his third year (it would be his first full year if he stays with the club without being sent down). Looking at his stats, he has one game more than a full season (83 games played). In those 83 games he has 25 points. And playing with Thomas and Blais is likely to increase his scoring chances.

Of course, it’s likely that the lines will be juggled frequently. Kyrou likely will find himself on the fourth line with Thomas. Maroon could, as well. If the Blues have a need, they could call on Thorburn from San Antonio for added toughness. The season as many twists and turns, and the roster goes through evolution along the way.

To start this promising season, the Blues have infused the bottom six with a lot more skill than they have had in quite a well. And I hope Jaskin gets an opportunity to play for the Capitals, and acquits himself well.

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