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These players need to step up in Tarasenko's absence

The Blues will be without their star for quite a while. Here's who needs to step to help fill the Tarasenko-sized hole in the team's roster.
Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, skates during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Washington Capitals Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — The Blues have shown over the past few years they know how to spread the wealth and not depend on just one player to carry the weight.

That's going to be more important in 2019-2020 now that their superstar sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is lost for at least five months due to a shoulder injury.

It's going to be tough to make up for Tarasenko's goal production (he's scored at least 33 goals in the last five seasons) and big body presence on the ice, but the Blues are going to have to fill it somehow.

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It only adds insult to injury that Tarasenko had been looking great prior to getting hurt against the Kings. Coming into that game, he was riding a five game point streak with three goals.

Here's a couple of ways the Blues could overcome the loss of their star.

More offense from Ryan O'Reilly and Jaden Schwartz

O'Reilly and Schwartz were arguably the Blues' two biggest scoring threats during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. Now, their team needs them to step up again with the absence of Tarasenko.

Brayden Schenn and David Perron have carried the load for the early part of this year, but without Tarasenko some of the other big names are going to have to help carry the load.

O'Reilly had a bit of a break out party in Detroit over the weekend, notching four points including two goals in the win. It would be perfect timing if he could get hot right as Tarasenko goes down.

Jaden Schwartz's lack of offense last season is well documented, as he scored one less goal in 69 regular season games (11) than he did in 26 playoff games (12). We've seen just how electric Schwartz can be when he's right, and the Blues certainly need that Schwartz to show up ASAP. On a line with Schenn, Schwartz has racked up his share of assists, but it would be nice to see him find the back of the net himself more as well.

Robert Thomas breaks out

The early returns look like it might be Robert Thomas who gets the first shot on the first line in Tarasenko's place.

It's no question that the 20-year-old Thomas has some of the most explosive talent on the roster, but we're still waiting for him to have his true coming out party.

There's no rush, since he's still just 20 years old, but with Tarasenko out and Thomas perhaps in line for a spot on the top line with Schenn and Schwartz, now would be the perfect time for him to announce his presence to the rest of the league.

Sanford, Blais or Fabbri makes the most of their opportunity

When everyone was healthy, it was a good bet one of these guys was going to be scratched on a nightly basis.

Now, they're all probably going to get more of a chance (along with Mackenzie MacEachern as well).

Each of these guys has shown potential to make a substantial offensive impact at different points in their careers, and now they'll all get a big chance to prove it again.

Blais has probably impressed the most this year of that lot, and even though he's banged up right now, will have the chance to claim an even bigger role on this team when he returns.


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