1. Chris Porter
As the Blues head into training camp, the biggest wild card as it comes to roster composition will be Chris Porter. Porter received the most extensive action of his NHL career last season with the Minnesota Wild (where he was coached by now Blues associate head coach/coach in waiting Mike Yeo), playing in 61 games and scoring four goals with three assists. Now Porter has ventured back to St. Louis, where he spent the first six seasons of his NHL career before departing last summer.
From what Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford earlier this week, Porter sure sounds like a guy who will have a spot on the 2016-17 squad:
"“We know ‘Ports’ really well. He’s a guy that has a real home here. There’s a real trust with Chris’ game and now he’s got familiarity with both coaching staffs, ourselves and also the guys coming in from Minny. So there’s a real comfort level with him.”"
Obviously GM Doug Armstrong will have the final call in determining whether Porter earns a spot on the NHL roster, but the fact that he likes him enough to bring him back to the organization a second time is already a pretty good sign that the front office admires his work. The fact that nearly every coach on the Blues’ staff–Hitchcock and Ray Bennett from St. Louis, and Yeo and Rick Wilson from Minnesota–has coached him before is an extra egg in his basket.
It’s a mystery as to who Porter would unseat on the 23-man roster, especially if Vladimir Sobotka returns. If he were to make the team, he’d presumably knock both Ty Rattie and Magnus Paajarvi off of the NHL roster. On a team that is seeking to embody a more speedy, “tenacious” (as Hitchcock put it) identity, though, Porter seems like a very good fit, and it really wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him remain with the team as the regular season begins.