Looking for some experience to bolster a team down two veterans to injuries, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has brought in forwards Troy Brouwer and Jamie McGinn for tryouts.
While the Blues have players at San Antonio ready for a callup, such as Klim Kostin and Nathan Walker and, in a little while when he's game-ready, Jordan Kyrou, Armstrong is looking for more of a veteran presence. The team's lineup on Saturday in Calgary included Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Robert Thomas and Mackenzie MacEachern, all youngsters. Adding one of the San Antonio players would mean almost half of the forward unit had been in the league only a few years.
"The thought process going into that," Armstrong said, "(is) we're down to 12 healthy forwards right now. In our game in Calgary, I think we had eight players on our roster with less than 200 NHL games. We started five guys with less than 100 at the start of the season. It's an experienced league and we want to make sure ... to see if there were any experienced players that can help us. I don't know where they're going to be at. McGinn had skated in Carolina, played a couple games in the American league. Troy Brouwer has been skating with the junior team in Calgary. We'll get those guys a look.
"With our depth in the American Hockey League, we're really excited with how Walker's playing and Kostin and Kyrou, but you look at their experience, it's not there. We don't want to get in a situation where we have 11 or 12 players without experience. There's no guarantees for Jamie or for Troy but we're going to bring them in and take a look at them."
McGinn skated with the team in practice on Monday and Brouwer will join the team on Tuesday. Armstrong said both players would travel with the team to Columbus on Friday to continue getting in work. He said they could have done it last week -- they were thinking about it before Steen got hurt -- but they didn't want to be taking the players through Western Canada.
Under the PTO provisions, the players can be with the team for 10 days. They don't get paid, though the team covers their expenses. The players can stay on after 10 days, but on their own dime, though by that time, teams have generally made up their minds on what they're going to do.
Armstrong said that Brouwer and McGinn aren't competing with each other for a job. Right now, the Blues have two open spots on their roster and they will go into Tuesday's game with Arizona with just 12 forwards on their roster. No callups from San Antonio are planned.
"I think they're competing with themselves, or with everyone, to see where they fit on an NHL roster," Armstrong said. "Right now, we have 12 healthy guys that are here. We'll see where they fit in. It's not competition for one job. It could be zero jobs. We'll see how they play or it could be two."
Blues fans will remember Brouwer, 34, from the 2015-16 season season he spent with the club, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Finals. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 213-pound forward dressed in 75 regular-season games with the Florida Panthers, posting 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) and 47 penalty minutes.
Brouwer has played 13 seasons in the NHL, racking up 362 points (181 goals, 181 assists) and 588 penalty minutes in 838 career regular-season games. He has also appeared in 102 career postseason games and captured the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship with the Chicago Blackhawks.
McGinn, 31, was originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. This season, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward has appeared in two games with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Charlotte Checkers. McGinn has played for six teams in his 11 seasons, tallying 220 points (117 goals, 103 assists) and 267 penalty minutes in 617 career regular-season games.
McGinn has a good buddy on the team: he was with Colorado with Ryan O'Reilly, and was part of the trade that sent O'Reilly to Buffalo. So they played together for four seasons with the Avalanche and one with the Sabres. And they stayed close, with O'Reilly being a groomsman in McGinn's wedding over the summer. O'Reilly did some lobbying on McGinn's behalf, and McGinn's stall in the dressing room is next to O'Reilly's.