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Blues cut roster, send Kostin, 12 others to San Antonio

Highly touted prospect Klim Kostin will start the season in the AHL, but it shouldn't be long till we see him on the big stage.
Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues' Klim Kostin, of Russia, waits for a face-off during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Dallas Stars Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — The Blues whittled down their roster to the 23 limit ahead of Tuesday's 4 p.m. (CT) deadline by assigning 12 players, including Klim Kostin, to San Antonio of the American Hockey League and designating Jordan Kyrou (knee) to the injured non-roster.

The Blues assigned defensemen Andreas Borgman, Niko Mikkola and Mitch Reinke, forwards Tanner Kaspick, Kostin, Jordan Nolan, Ryan Olsen, Austin Poganski, Alexey Toropchenko and Nathan Walker and goalies Ville Husso and Adam Wilcox to the Rampage and non-rostered Kyrou while he still rehabs from off-season kneecap surgery.

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The Blues can still cut one forward by Tuesday's roster submission deadline, which is something general manager Doug Armstrong said is a possibility in order to save some salary cap space, but should they go into the season with the 23 on the current roster, it will consist of 14 forwards (Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais, Tyler Bozak, Robby Fabbri, Mackenzie MacEachern, Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron, Zach Sanford, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Oskar Sundqvist, Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas), seven defensemen (Robert Bortuzzo, Jay Bouwmeester, Vince Dunn, Justin Faulk, Carl Gunnarsson, Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo) as well as two goalies (Jake Allen and Jordan Binnington).

Blues coach Craig Berube was impressed with the play of Kostin, who led the team with six points (three goals, three assists) in five games but none in his final two games, and he liked the play of Borgman, acquired in a summer trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jordan Schmaltz; he also liked the play of Mikkola, Olsen and Poganski.

Blues fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Kostin, one of the Blues' two first-round picks in 2017 (Thomas), but it will have at at least wait for the time being despite Kostin continuing to knock on the door.

"Here's the easiest way to put it for a fan's perspective: in 2011, we drafted Jordan Binnington. In 2019, Jordan Binnington is in the NHL and the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup winner," Blues director of player development Tim Taylor said in June at prospect camp. "I know a goalie takes a little bit longer, but at the same time, we don't want to put Klim Kostin in the NHL, send him down, bring him up, send him down. He's taking steps. He's almost at the highest part of the mountain. He's getting there. He's getting closer. When he comes up, he's going to be a Blue for a long time.

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"... You talk to our San Antonio coaching staff, they thought that his growth and development took a huge step, especially at the end of last year, the second half of last year. His points weren't maybe what we would have expected, but at the end of the day, it wasn't about points. It was about playing North American hockey, playing the right way, playing under a team concept and then his skill level will take over.

"The biggest step isn't coming from the AHL to the NHL. The biggest step is going from junior hockey to the AHL. It's a big step."

The Blues, who won their first Stanley Cup in June after defeating the Boston Bruins in seven games, will begin defense of their championship on Wednesday when they host the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in a matchup of the past two Cup winners.

* Preseason finale canceled -- The Blues were supposed to conclude the preseason with a game Sunday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets, but the game was canceled after the Blues experienced mechanical issues with their chartered plane prior to takeoff.

With Sunday's cancellation, the Blues finished 4-3-0 in the preseason.

"Due to an unforeseen mechanical issue with our chartered aircraft, we (were) unable to travel to Columbus for tonight's game," Armstrong said in a statement. "We apologize to the Blue Jackets and their fans for this inconvenience."