Right now, the future of the 2020-2021 AHL and NHL seasons are uncertain. Every team will have to hope prospects and players in their system step up, when in other years teams could have signed players to fill holes and add depth to their organization. The St. Louis Blues are a team, given their success, that has already proven they can find gems in the minors and hope to continue that trend. So, when it comes to the Blues organization, who might get the call this coming season?
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Klim Kostin, C/LW
6’3″, 212 lbs, 21 years old.
While Kostin has an excellent chance at making the opening night roster, if he doesn’t, he is likely at the top of the Blues list of potential call-ups.
Kostin has shown his ability to play at the highest level and against men twice his age. As a 17-year-old he played for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, the top league in Russia, then after being drafted, as an 18-year-old he played for the San Antonio Rampage, the Blues AHL affiliate at the time. There, he registered 28 points in 67 games played.
He can bring an edge and toughness to the Blues forward group, something they lost when Pat Maroon signed with the Lightning prior to the 2019-2020 season. Also, he already has some experience at the NHL level, as he was briefly recalled last season, and during his call-up, he scored his first NHL goal.
So when you combine all those factors he is the ideal candidate to be the first player recalled in 2021.
Niko Mikkola, D
6’5″, 198 lbs, 24 years old.
Like Kostin, Niko Mikkola has an excellent chance at making the team out of training camp after signing a two-year one-way contract on January 31st. One thing that gives him an advantage over his counterparts is that he has had multiple call-ups to the NHL, including a five-game stint last year when Colton Parayko was placed on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
His second recall came in February after Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac event on the bench. Mikkola remained with the team until GM Doug Armstrong traded for Marco Scandella, to the dismay of many Blues fans who had hoped that Mikkola would earn a permanent spot on the blueline.
He was then recalled a third time to be part of the expanded roster for the playoffs.
He has shown that he is able to fill in for the Blues top defensemen if needed and therefore has earned the trust of the Blues that he can be a reliable call-up in the event of an injury or just if an extra defenseman is needed for a road trip.
Austin Poganski, RW
6’2″, 201 lbs, 24 years old.
Like Kostin, Poganski has also had some experience at the NHL level in the form of a call-up in the 2019-2020 season, playing in one game before being reassigned.
He can compete against the other team’s top line as stick handling and the ability to battle for pucks in the corners are two of his strongest attributes. He’ll provide supplementary scoring along with physical play and his leadership also makes him an ideal call-up.
When he was at the University of North Dakota, he wore a letter in each of his first three years before ultimately being named Captain in his senior year. His combination of offensive and leadership abilities puts him near the top of the list of Blues potential call-ups for 2021.
Mitch Reinke, D
5’11”, 185 lbs, 24 years old.
On March 26th, 2018, Reinke signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Blues as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan Tech University. Five days later, on March 31st, he made his NHL debut against the Arizona Coyotes, playing in thirteen minutes.
Reinke was assigned to San Antonio, where in his first professional season, he was named to the AHL’ s All-Rookie team. It was a bit of a disappointment to many Blues fans who had hoped that he would stay to help bolster struggling Blues blue line.
At 5’11”, 185lbs he is considered an undersized player, particularly for a defenseman, but despite that, he has proven himself worthy of being recalled in different situations. Should a defenseman get injured, Mitch Reinke is a dependable call-up.
With other players in Springfield such as Scott Perunovich, Alexey Toropchenko, and Nathan Walker the Blues have a well-stocked Farm team of players ready to step into roles anytime they are needed.
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